The Smithsonian Orchid Collection has grown from five plants to close to 8,000 specimens since 1974. It is an invaluable resource for education, exhibition, and scientific research. The collection is maintained in the Smithsonian Gardens Greenhouse Facility by staff, interns, and volunteers. The collection is used to beautify the interiors of the Smithsonian museums as well as for special exhibitions.
Smithsonian Gardens strives to cultivate an extremely diverse array of orchids from all over the world. With close to 10,000 plants in our collection, new acquisitions are selected carefully each year based on their display quality, educational value, beauty, rarity and how they complement our present collection.
The collection is especially well represented in New World Genera such as Cattleya, Encyclia, Laelia, Brassavola, Epidendrum, Isochilus and Sobralia as well as Maxillaria, Lycaste, Oncidium, Brassia, Miltoniopsis and a wide array of Pleurothallids. Australian and Asian species of Dendrobium and Bulbophyllum / Cirrhopetalum are another area of specialty. A fine collection of specimen-size Phalaenopsis species and hybrids are maintained in uniquely designed baskets which allow the plants to grow in a more naturalistic fashion. Other Sarcanthine orchids include a large and varied group of Vanda and Ascocenda hybrids and a significant selection of African Angraecoids, many of which are quite rare in cultivation.
Arguably, the best plants are the collection of Paphiopedilum species and selected hybrids. Many fine examples of Slipper orchid species have been grown into large specimens since the plants are not divided unless it becomes necessary. Therefore, there are many large specimens of a wide range of genera that are spectacular when they are in bloom.
Connect With Us
Orchid Collections Search
Images of many of the orchids in the SG Orchid Collection are now available online. You can search them by taxonomic terms or by color such as yellow, purple, white, etc. In addition you will be able to watch videos on orchid conservation, orchid judging, orchid exhibition installation and other garden related topics.
3D Orchid Tour
Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection is proud to have participated in and contributed to the Smithsonian’s 3D Digital Charter collection by providing access to some of its rarest and most interesting orchids. The link below leads to a dynamic digital tour of a high definition scan of our prized, award-winning Embreea orchid, and its pollinator, a type of Orchid Bee. This outstanding tour will take you deep inside this amazing orchid and give intimate insight into its complex and fascinating relationship with its insect partner.
Orchids Around Us
Use the lessons in this package to learn about specific types of orchids, their appearance, habitats, uses, and cultural significance and history.
2014 Orchid Exhibition
Experience the incredible elegance of an orchid symphony. The U.S. Botanic Garden will feature exuberant displays of orchids nestled among whimsical topiaries and musical fountains. Illuminated by an orchid chandelier, the Garden Court will sing the praises of beautiful orchids. The Conservatory will feature orchids from all over the world in a multitude of environments. Come see desert orchids, jungle orchids and even orchids used in medicine and cooking against the gorgeous backdrop of the U.S. Botanic Garden collections.
Orchid Symphony is a collaboration between the U.S. Botanic Gardens and Smithsonian Gardens.
Smithsonian Gardens is a collaborating partner with the North American Orchid Conservation Center