Orchid Culture Sheets

Drawing of a PhalaenopsisPhalaenopsis


Phalaenopsis, the moth orchid, is perhaps the best orchid for growing in the home, and is also a favorite with greenhouse growers. Well-grown plants can flower often, sometimes with a few flowers throughout the year, though the main season is late winter into spring. Average home temperatures and conditions are usually sufficient.

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Drawing of a CymbidiumCymbidium


These orchids are prized for their long-lasting sprays of flowers, used especially as cut flowers or for corsages in the spring. There are two main types of cymbidiums — standards and miniatures. Where summer nights are warm (above 70° F), only miniatures can be recommended, because many are more tolerant of heat and able to flower in warmer weather.

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Drawing of a PaphiopedilumPaphiopedilum


Paphiopedilums, the lady’s-slipper orchids, originate in the jungles of the Far East including Indonesia. They are semiterrestrial, growing in humus and other material on the forest floor, on cliffs in pockets of humus and occasionally in trees. They are easy to grow in the home, under lights or in the greenhouse.

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Drawing of a LycasteLycaste


Lycastes are deciduous in various degrees, from the strongly deciduous, yellow-flowered species like Lycaste aromatica that flowers from leafless pseudobulbs to the evergreen types like Lycaste skinneri with pseudobulbs that retain their leaves at flowering. This genus produces large, long-lasting, showy, triangular flowers that are waxy. The plants are distinctive for their roundish pseudobulbs and broad, plicate (pleated) leaves. Culture for the hybrid genus Angulocaste (Lycaste Anguloa) follows the culture for the Lycaste parent.

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Drawing of a OncidiumOncidium


This is an extraordinarily large and diverse New World genus with an equally diverse number of habitats. Oncidiums may originate anywhere from sea level in the tropics to the high elevations of the Andes. This obviously makes cultural generalizations difficult. More specific instructions may be available from the grower. Some genera included are Aspasia, Brassia, warm-growing miltonias (often called the Brazilian type) and many of their hybrids.

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Dendrobium is a diverse genus of orchids with different cultural needs. Many go through a growth phase and then a rest phase during the course of one year, and must be given water and temperature to match these periods of growth and rest. Flowers can last one day to many weeks, depending on the type.

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Orchid Collections Search

Browse The Orchid Collection

Information about the Orchid Collection is now accessible to the public online via the Smithsonian Collections Search Center. Search specimens using a variety of search options such as name, taxonomy, flower color, or range and explore videos about orchid conservation, judging orchid shows, the annual exhibit installation and other related topics.