Saturday, 31 January 2015 19:47

The Ten (or So) Easiest Orchids to Grow

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Twinkle Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis Twinkle)

There are so many excellent moth orchids around, that finding a “bad” one would be a challenge. In recent years, the breeders of moth orchids have reached a high level of perfection with these flowers, which means that the ones you buy at the discount center for $20 to $30 would have been prize winners several years ago.

The Twinkle moth orchid is not the typical large white, pink, or striped variety. It represents a somewhat newer direction for moth orchids — the multifloral type that has many smaller flowers, up to about 2 inches (5 cm) in size, on a very compact plant. The larger moth orchids are gorgeous and elegant but take up quite a bit of room, so if you’re looking for something more compact, check out this multifloral type.

You don’t need to get this specific variety of moth orchid. Just find one that’s listed as a multifloral type (also sometimes referred to as “sweetheart” phalaenopsis).

Lady of the Night (Brassavola nodosa)

This native of Mexico got its common name from its glorious freesia evening scent. It grows best in strong light with warm temperatures and will reward you with single or clusters of white spidery flowers up to 6 inches (15 cm) across, which can appear a few times a year.

Lady of the Night is a very compact-growing orchid, with tubular leaves. It’s usually not more than a foot tall and grows in clumps. It will perform best if it isn’t divided and is allowed to grow into a nice large plant.

Maudiae Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum Maudiae)

Most Asian lady’s slipper orchids, as a group, are among the easiest of orchids to grow, but this type stands out as especially undemanding. The flowers are exotic and either have dramatic burgundy markings or are elegantly colored in green and white (see the color section of photographs for an example).

Even when this plant is not in flower, its foliage is stunning with its marbled pattern against a dark green base. These orchids do well in modest light and normal room temperatures. They only grow about 8 to 10 inches (20.3 to 25.4 cm) tall, so they fit easily on any windowsill or under lights. To see these plants really shine, let them get larger and develop multiple growths, which won’t take long because they’re so robust.

Cockleshell Orchid (Epidendrum cochleatum)

This is one of the most resilient of orchids it seems to keep blooming despite less-than-ideal conditions. One of the orchids naturally found in Florida, this Cockleshell orchid has fascinating flowers that appear to look upside-down. The “cockleshell” part of the flower is striped with purple veins against a light green background, and the rest of the flower consists of segments that are narrow, green, and somewhat spidery looking. After this orchid is established, it will bloom multiple times in a row, so it can have flowers for six months or longer. It grows well under lights or on a bright windowsill.

Sharry Baby Oncidium (Oncidium ‘Sharry Baby’)

This is thought to be the single most popular orchid in the world! And it’s not difficult to see why. It has a great deal to offer any orchid lover.

Sharry Baby blooms dependably — usually around Christmastime — and when it does, you’re treated to a flurry of many )2-inch (1.5-cm) flowers that are yellow overlaid with burgundy covering a spike of up to 30 inches (75 cm). What a show!

And the piece de resistance is that the flowers have the delicious fragrance of chocolate and vanilla!

Because this orchid can get tall, place it near a sunny window that has some headroom. Many different color forms of this wildly popular orchid are available.

Bird-Beak Orchid (Oncidium ornithorhynchum)

Everyone has room for this Mexican beauty. Its dainty 1-inch (2.5-cm) lavender-pink flowers with bright yellow centers and white lips are borne in profusion (up to 100 on a mature plant), on thin pendulous sprays.

Because this plant only grows 6 to 8 inches tall (15 to 20 cm), it can fit on any windowsill or under lights. It will sometimes bloom more than once a year — usually in the spring, occasionally in the fall — and has a scent that reminds me of a fresh morning’s air.

Mari’s Song (Laeliocattleya ‘Mari’s Song)

This variety belongs to a category of plants called minicatts (miniature cattleyas). They all take up much less space than the standard sized cattleya and many of them bloom more than once a year. This particular variety of minicatt is popular because it’s easy to grow, compact, has gaily tricolored, 4/2-inch (11-cm) flowers, and is very fragrant.

Fan-Shape Orchid (Cochleanthes amazonica)

I love this orchid. It has handsome glossy green foliage. Mine frequently blooms twice or more a year with 2-inch (5-cm) snow-white flowers that are veined in dark purple and smell like sweet candy. Other cochleanthes, like Cochleanthes discolor, and hybrids Cochleanthes ‘Moliere’ and Cochleanthes ‘Amazing’ are also good choices. All of them have similar cultural requirements as moth orchids and are just as undemanding.

Pansy Orchid (Miltoniopsis santanei)

Pansy orchids have a reputation for being a bit finicky. Although this may be true for some of the ones from cooler climates, I have found this species to be a wonderful exception. It’s from a warmer climate so adapts very well to home culture. It has a relatively small stature, usually growing only 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) tall and sports flat, 2-inch (5-cm), white, pansy-shaped flowers with a flare of bright yellow on the top of the lip. It has a delightful rose fragrance.

To keep this orchid happy, grow it in moderate light and keep its potting material damp.


The Ten (or So) Easiest Orchids to Grows on what-when-how, In Depth Tutorials and Information

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By Steven A. Frowine

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Other works by Steven A. Frowine


Miniature Orchids (


Fragrant Orchids: A Guide To Selecting, Growing, And Enjoying (


Orchids for Dummies  (


Moth Orchids - The Complete Guide to Phalaenopsis (


Growing Tropical Slipper Orchids Under Lights  (.pdf file free to download)(


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