- Care Guide
- About Orchid Names
- Glossary & Terms
Orchids aren’t the delicate, hard to grow plants some people think they are.
They are the largest group of plants in the world, contrary to the notion of them as exotic imports.
Like other houseplants, orchids can be grown successfully if their basic needs are met. These basic needs don’t call for a greenhouse. Most orchids can be raised as houseplants. If you’re attentive enough to raise other houseplants, orchids should be simple. You can expect to find something you can grow, simply because orchids have adapted to survive in most areas as “wild plants”. This allows you a wide range of conditions that will do for growing various orchids. All you have to do is match a plants needs with what conditions you can provide.
This is THE important factor to get right to successfully raise and bloom orchids. Correct light is important for proper plant growth. You can usually judge how much light an orchid needs by watching the leaves. You want the leaves to be a light grass green. In correct light, some plants will produce a pigment that resemble plum colored freckles or suntan. This shows that the plant has as much light as it can stand and is trying to protect itself from burning. This is an almost ideal situation for good blooming. See the individual culture sections for more detail on light needs.
If the leaves become very yellow, move the plant to more shade. Too intense a light or moving a plant from heavy shade to intense light can cause sun scalding. This is indicated by good sized bleached looking spots that turn black, crispy, and dry, looking charred.
If the leaves become dark emerald green, move the plant to more light. This coloration shows that the plant wants more light to grow well. The plant will live indefinitely under lower than desirable light conditions, but it generally won’t bloom.
Watering is the other important thing to get right. Most orchids are epiphytic. They grow on trees or other plants, and they get moisture from the air. Nutrients are obtained from rain carrying decaying matter over the roots. This means that they never stand in water in nature. The plants should never be allowed to stand in water in your home. Orchids plants must be watered somewhat differently from most plants. How much and how often depends on several things:
- • How dry your conditions are.
- • The size of the pot.
- • The material the plant is potted in.
- • The type of plant.
No hard rule for watering can be stated. Some homes are drier than others. Small pots dry out faster than large pots. Some plants prefer more water than others. Watch the plants, they let you know when they need water.
The roots will tell you if you have good watering habits. They’re white, firm, and fleshy with green tips in healthy plants. Overwatered plants have few good roots, and many soggy, mushy, brown, dead ones. They set their own schedule. Most tolerate being dryer better than staying soggy. When you water, let the water run through the media.
Most in-home temperatures will be acceptable for growing orchids. They are comfortable where you are. Between 55°F and 80°F is best. Temperature extremes should be avoided, but can be survived readily. The plants can live after temperatures in the 30°sF, as long as no frost forms on the plant. 100°F is survivable if there’s air movement. Watch the humidity at extreme temperatures.
In their native environment nearly all plants are exposed to constant breezes. Orchids are no exceptions. Moving air will help them. It will also cut down on disease problems, either in a greenhouse or a living room. Good air movement prevents cold or hot spots, which can make it more difficult for you to grow the plant well. A small fan will quickly pay for itself by giving you better growing conditions.
If you have adequate humidity to raise other houseplants, you have enough to raise orchids. If humidity is a problem for your other plants, then it will be a concern for you in raising orchids. No expensive equipment is necessary to provide more humidity for your orchid. Any tray large enough to hold your plants will do. Fill the tray with gravel or place a rack across the tray. Next, put water in the tray. Be sure the plants aren’t sitting in the water. The evaporating water will help the plants thrive in a dry environment. never place orchids in standing water.
Most orchids are epiphytes, they will not grow in potting soil!! They are air plants. The roots need to dry slightly between waterings. Garden soil won’t allow this. The main function of media are to provide support. Anything that does this and allows air passage will do.
Common media for growing orchids are: Pro-Mix BX, Peat Moss, New Zealand Sphagnum Moss, Fir Bark Chips, Redwood Bark Chips, Osmunda Fiber, Tree Fern Fiber, Coconut Fiber, Sifted Perlite, Granular Charcoal, Expanded Clay, Cork and others.
The size of the media affects its water retention character. Small chips of a medium stay more moist than large chunks of the same medium. These media dry at different rates. The first ones listed stay the most moist, the latter tend to stay drier. If you’re prone to overwater, think about using the drier media. If you prefer to water less, use the moister media. Many people combine media to suit their watering habits and preferences.
No plant will live on air and water alone. Most orchid potting media provide support only, and have little or no food value. When the plants are in bark they need a high nitrogen food (30-10-10 etc.). Plants in most other media need a balanced food (18-18-18 etc.). Use a water soluble fertilizer at the dilutions recommended on the label. Plants in lower light need less fertilizer or the tips of leaves start to shrivel. Flush the pots with plain water occasionally to prevent deadly salt buildup.
Many orchids aren’t heavy feeders, so feeding every couple of weeks is enough. They have an indefinite life span, so fertilizer isn’t critical as it is with an annual. One months missed fertilizer won’t stop blooming or mortally wound a plant that can live a century or more, given good care. Proper light is more important for good blooming than a rigorous fertilizer regimen.
These are the perfect plants for permanent indoor growing. Natural light in a sunny East or South window, a bay window, sun porch, or bright plant room is usually adequate. They like bright indirect light. Harsh South or West windows may be too bright and hot. Simply, place sheers or another plant between them and the light source when the light is too intense for these plants. Watch the leaf color for clues about how your growing area rates with these plants.
Phalaenopsis plants like to stay evenly moist. Plastic pots seem to work better for these plants. They won’t tolerate going extremely dry, as they don’t have pseudobulbs. New Zealand sphagnum works well as a medium for these plants. We also grow phalaenopsis in ‘Pro-Mix BX’ (this media stays damp). An average 6" plastic pot needs watering on about a weekly basis, no more. Watch the roots to make sure they stay firm and white. If you like to wet your plants, you should repot them into a dryer media immediately.
The average home has the preferred temperature for these plants. Days near 80°F. Nights above 55°F. The cooler nights experienced in autumn, plus shorter days starts the bloom spikes in phalaenopsis plants. You can initiate spikes in the house because the window areas are cooler at night and warmer in the day than other areas of the house, so you still get the temperature drop they want.
The bloom spike takes 90-120 days to bloom from the time you see it emerge from the plant. They can bloom over long periods of time on a large plant. The spike can be cut to the base when blooming tapers off and you find the stem unsightly. Many people cut the stem to the 1st or 2nd bract on the stem. This can allow the plant to rebloom from an existing spike, so it’s back in bloom sooner. There’s no harm in encouraging lateral blooming, but they tend to be smaller blooms. We prefer to remove the spike completely, so the plant can focus energy on a strong new spike.
This group of plants are best suited for being placed outside in the warm seasons. They winter over adequately in the house, but need the extra boost of light that they’d get outside. They are no more difficult to deal with than other plants you toss outside for the summer. If you have a place under a tree, covered patio or the eaves of your house that you put houseplants without damage these orchids would do well there. Some people have growing areas with enough light to keep these plants inside permanently. However, without exceptional sunlight or a greenhouse that’s unlikely to get you blooms. When outside, light shade during the middle of the day might be needed. Full morning sun is very good. Full afternoon sun may be too hot. Watch the leaf color for clues about how your growing area rates with these plants. If you have some mature plants of this group that refuse to bloom, try getting them to more light.
This group of plants like to go almost dry between waterings. Clay pots work well for this group of plants. We grow them in the following mixture: 2 parts granular charcoal, 2 parts sifted perlite, 1 part Metro-Mix 200 sterile potting media. This mixture dries at a rate that has us watering an average 6" clay pot once a week and no more. Watch the roots to make sure they stay firm and white
They can be outside as long as the night temperature is above 45°F. We’ve had cattleyas survive 33°F, but growth was slowed. Most in home temperatures are fine for the winter.
These plants generally bloom on the newer growths. Some plants are sporadic blooming and bloom as each new growth comes up and matures. Others are seasonal and bloom on all the growths generated during the year at one time. This depends on the plants parents. Be sure to ask about this factor when buying them.
Orchid roots usually creep over the edge of the pot before the body of the plant makes it to the edge of the pot. This is not a signal to repot. Repotting is only necessary when the body of the plant has grown over the pot or the media breaks down and won’t allow the roots to dry between waterings. Plants usually outgrows the pot before the media starts staying soggy.
It’s best to repot when you see signs of new growth. These steps are general and could vary slightly, depending on the media you use:
- 1. Take the plant out of the pot.
- 2. Gently remove as much of the old media as will come off the roots.
- 3. Remove any bad roots. (Dried or soggy brown roots)
- 4. Put drainage material and media in a pot.
- 5. Place the plant in the pot. The rhizome or crown should be slightly below the pots rim.
- 6. Fill the pot with new media and firm it down. Don’t cover the plants rhizome or crown.
- 7. Stake the plant to steady it, if necessary.
- 8. Water lightly until the plant readjusts.
Enjoy these wonderful plants, without fear. Despite rumors of exacting care needed of these plants, they’re no harder to deal with than other houseplants. Trial and error may be called for to find plants that grow like weeds in your environment, that can be fun as well. We hope you get off to a happy start down the garden path into the world of orchids. If you need help with any orchid related matter, please give us a call. We’re glad to help you get the most pleasure out of your orchids. Mother Nature’s Crown Jewels are wonderful house plants and do best with minimal fuss.
The beauty and diversity of orchids have fascinated people for ages. As long as 5 centuries before Christ, Confucius compared the pleasure of seeing good friends to entering a room full of "lan" or fragrant orchids.
While the Chinese called these flowers "lan", the name they came to be known by in the western world was given (according to legend) by Theophrastus, a student of Plato. He noted the round paired bulbs of one common European orchid and gave it the name orchis from the Greek word for testicle. Later, this name was applied not only to one genus, Orchis, but also to the entire family (even though the majority of orchids do not have this kind of root). Commonly this family is called the orchid family: scientifically, the family is called Orchidaceae.
Medieval European herbalists believed that the shapes of plants indicated their uses to man. Since the bulbs of common European orchids looked like testicles, aphrodisiacal powers were attributed to them. Dried and pulverized tubers were used in love potions. It was believed that potions made from the younger, firmer tubers would encourage the conception of male children, while potions made from the older, softer tubers led to the birth of female children.
Orchids also evoked other images. Jacob Breynius, a 17th century German botanist, described them in an almost poetic way: "If nature ever showed her playfulness in the formation of plants, this is visible in the most striking way among the orchids. They take on the form of little birds, of lizards, of insects. They look like a man, a woman, sometimes like a clown who excites our laughter. They represent the image of a lazy tortoise, a melancholy toad, an agile, ever-chattering monkey. Nature has formed orchid flowers in such a way that, unless they make us laugh, they surely excite our greatest admiration."
Vanilla, the only widely used commercial product of the orchid family, was first discovered by the ancient Aztecs in Mexico. The vanilla plant was introduced to English gardens in 1739, and is credited with the increasing popularity of orchids in horticulture.
In the 19th century, orchids were in such demand that auctions in Liverpool and London attracted much publicity. Prices soared, with buyers often paying 500 pounds for a single plant. Top prices were much higher.
Because little was known of the growth requirements of these bizarre, tropical plants, many extreme practices were tried. English gardeners felt that plants coming from the tropics (the so-called hot and humid countries) needed hot and humid conditions. They placed orchids in stove houses which were combinations of heavily-painted glass, coal fires, and hot brick flues. There was no ventilation, and the bricks were drenched continuously with water to produce a steamy atmosphere. This was the beginning of the hothouse treatment which has so long been associated with orchids.
Under such extreme conditions, orchids quickly succumbed by the thousands. One nobleman remarked that England had become the "grave of tropical orchids". In spite of the speed with which orchids died, they were imported in ever larger quantities. The startling beauty of the flowers on the few plants that survived stimulated the desire to continue to cultivate them.
Competition was keen among aristocratic 19th century orchid culturists. The more successful growers carefully guarded their secrets. One of the first to successfully build up a large collection of exotic orchids was William Cattley of Barnet, England. The popular Cattleya orchid genus was named for and dedicated to him.
European scientists, too, were interested in orchids. Charles Darwin was fascinated by them. His studies into fertilization mechanisms in this family led to a 2-volume classic in 1862, The Various Contrivances by which Orchids are Fertilised by Insects .
With so many people interested in orchids, one may well ask what is so special about these plants. One thing is the incredible diversity. There is simply no such thing as a typical orchid.
The Orchidacae is probably the largest flowering plant family. So far, approximately 30000 wild species have been described. Also many, many man-made hybrids have been created.
Orchids range in size from plants only an inch high with very tiny flowers to vines up to 50 feet long with flowers a foot across.
Orchids are herbaceous (non-woody) perennials that occur as vines, shrubs, and grass-like plants. Some bear a single flower; others have many flowers. They grow in habitats from tropical rain forests to alpine meadows, from bogs to semi-desert areas and from sea level to 14,000 feet in elevation. At least one orchid is semi-aquatic, holding only its blossoms above the water surface. Another species grows and blooms entirely below the ground.
Most tropical and subtropical orchids (the ones most grown by hobbyists) are epiphitic; that is, they grow on the trunks and limbs of trees. They ARE NOT parasitic upon the trees, but use the trees for perches. This allows the orchids to get more light than they would receive on the forest floor.
The largest, showiest, and most bizarre orchids occur in the tropics. Flower colors range from pure white to vivid pinks, lavenders, reds, golden-yellows, oranges, browns, and even blackish-purple. They vary from soft-muted tones to pure brilliant colors, and from solid shades to bizarre multicolored patterns.
Odors vary from orchid to orchid and range from the delicate spicy fragrance of vanilla to offensive smells of decay. Some orchids have no scent at all. Some are scented at some times of the day or night, but not at others.
Orchids native to temperate and arctic regions usually grow in soil or leaf litter. They generally have tuberous or bulbous roots which store moisture and nutrients. From these tubers, which are protected by the soil from freezing temperatures in the winter, new growth sprouts each spring.
It is the orchid flower, despite its great variability, that allows us to identify the plant as an orchid. Even with its apparent complexity, the basic shape of an orchid is simple. Three sepals and three petals constitute an orchid flower. The showiest part of many orchids, the lip, is simply a highly modified petal. The column, which contains the reproductive structures, is often concealed by the lip.
Three sepals, the outer row of petal-like structures, serve to protect the flower when it is in the bud stage. While sepals often remain green in other flowers, in orchids sepals change from green to colors such as white, lavender, yellow, or a combination of colors when the bud is ready to open. In some species the sepals are not as wide as the petals and are easy to distinguish from them. In others, petals and sepals are very similar in size and shape. The topmost sepal sometimes forms a cap or helmet-like structure.
Three petals make up the inner parts of the blossom. Usually the lowest petal is distinctly enlarged, forming the lip. This structure develops strikingly handsome shapes and may be marked by spots of color in streaks, splotches, or very intricate designs.
Some orchids, such as paphiopedilums or lady-slipper orchids, have no lip. Rather, two of their petals have fused and combined to form a pouch which resembles the toe of a lady's slipper.
Inside the petals, and often concealed by them, are the reproductive structures of the flower. In orchids, these structures are fused together into one fleshy column. The column is unique to orchids, and does not occur in any other plant family. Located at the top are the male structures, including anthers which produce the pollen. On many orchids, the pollen grains are grouped together in masses called pollinia. These pollinia or pollen wafers are sticky and adhere to visiting insects.
Directly below the anthers, separated from them by a thin membrane, is a part of the female portion of the flower, the stigma. The stigma consists of a sticky surface upon which the pollen must be deposited to fertilize the flower. In spite of the close proximity of the male and female organs in the blossom, practically all orchids are cross-pollinated. The pollen packet is attached to a particular spot on an insects body and adheres to the stigma of the next blossom it visits.
At the base of the column, below the sepals, is the ovary. In the ovary, the ovules and eventually the seed develop. The ovary also acts as a stem to connect the blossom to the plant.
In most fully-opened orchids, the lip hangs below the other two petals. In the unopened bud, however, it is often above them. These buds twist 180 degrees just before they open. This motion is very important. It facilitates pollination by placing the lip at the bottom of the blossom as a perch for visiting insects to alight on. In some orchids the lip has raised structures for an insect to grasp.
The main function of all the attention getting shapes, colors, and scents of orchids is to attract insects and other animals capable of fertilizing the flowers. Among reported pollinators are not only bees, butterflies, wasps, and a variety of other insects, but also birds, frogs, and snails. Pollinating mechanisms are remarkably intricate, and many orchid species can be successfully pollinated only by a particular species of insect.
Depositing pollen on the stigma triggers a series of profound changes in the orchid blossom. Soon the flower begins to wilt and change in color. Pollination stimulates the production of hormones which induce the immature ovules to ripen. Pollen tubes germinate from the pollen grains and grow towards the ovary. This growth proceeds slowly, and there may be a considerable time lapse between pollination and fertilization of the ovules.
After fertilization, the seed capsule enlarges and develops. Each mature seed is exceedingly small, usually only about a millimeter in diameter, and contains little food material. The small size is more than balanced by the vast number of seeds produced.
Since the tiny seed has so little food reserve, propagation of orchids by seed is a risky matter. A seed that lands on a suitable growing surface may germinate and develop into a tiny structure that resembles a corm, or underground stem. The seedling may remain in this state for as long as 24 months.
Before it can develop any further it must be infected by one of several species of fungus. The fungus penetrates the germinating seedlings, and eventually localizes in the roots. Because these fungi are found in the roots they have been called mycorrhiza from the Greek words for fungus and root. A symbiotic relationship occurs between the orchid seedling and the fungus, each depending on the other for materials that they cannot make themselves.
If everything goes well, the orchid will continue to grow and eventually will bloom. The development from seed to flowering plant can take as long as 7 to 10 years, or as little as 20 months.
Artifical methods of propagation have been developed to make orchid plants a viable nursery crop. By having orchid plants widely available at reasonable prices, this onetime hobby of the very rich or very dedicated is within easy grasp.
The strange jargon used by orchidists, the seemingly unpronounceable orchid names found in books and catalogues and the odd terms which aren't found in the average dictionary, can be a cold shower upon your enthusiasm as an orchid growing novice. (If your interest isn't outright squashed.) Of course, you can bravely flounder through a perplexing fog of half-knowledge, only to find out later that the imperfectly understood terms and guessed at pronunciations will remain a source of uncertainty and embarrassment. It is better to become familiar with some of the word tools at once, so you can more fully understand what you will read andhear later.
The most common questions about orchid names are: "How are they pronounced?", "How are they used?", "How are they derived?". We need to know how these terms are pronounced and what they mean in order to use them effectively. Since there are many thousands of names assigned to orchids, we will just cover some of the basic (most used) nomenlature, citing a few examples.
Within the Plant Kingdom, plants having fundamental similarities are arranged together in groups called families, possibly the largest of which is the Orchid Family. Within each family, plants having a still greater degree of similarity are grouped together into genera (JEN-eh-rah: singular is genus, JEE-nus). Finally, within each genus plants that are practically identical except for minor individual variations are grouped together into species (SPEE-sheez: singular is also species).
Therefore, every orchid plant is an individual, a member of a species, a member of a genus, and a member of a family, the Orchid Family. Now that we know that it is an individual and an orchid, we need only the name of the genus and species to which it belongs to identify it. Every orchid has a scientific name consisting if TWO parts by which it is known [somewhat as a person is known as "John Smith"]. In orchids the genus name is given first, as it is the LARGER group ["Smith(,) john"]. With giving the genus name first, it it clear that the different species "Smith john and Smith mary" are different plants within the same genus. Note that the specific (species) name IS NOT capitalized, but the Genera name is.
Instead of such simple and familiar names, the botanical names of orchids are predominately derived from Greek and Latin and can be tough to pronounce. Even the experts do not agree fully on pronunciation, though there is a trend toward uniformity. Specific names, that is the names of species, are almost always derived from Latin and follow rules of Latin pronunciation. The names of the genera are usually from Latin, or occasionally Greek, and very rarely from some other source.
Since there are OVER 600 different orchid GENERA, it would be a major project to try to memorize all those names (especially if you had no idea as to what they stood for, or even what the plant looked like). Only a fraction of these genera are found in most collections. Since familiarity comes from use, here is a listing of some of the plants most likely to be found in a newer collection.
Until now we have been discussing species only, that is the kinds of plants found in nature. However, if two DIFFERENT species of orchid are mated (crossed is the term used), the offspring are known as hybrid plants. Most orchid hybrids are made by orchid fanciers and are called artificial hybrids, but natural hybrids are occasionally found in the wild.
Orchid hybrids are named in a similar fashion to species, but in the place of the specific name there is a grex or hybrid name. The hybrid name isn't derived from Greek or Latin but rather is some "proper" or "fancy" name which IS capitalized. This name is registered with the ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY, which keeps track of the hybrids made using orchids. There is a listing of ALL the hybrids made to date available [Sanders Guide to Orchid Hybrids]. The offspring of each different combination of parents receives a different name, but all the offspring of the same combination of parents [even though different individuals may be used] have the same name. As an example, if a plant of Laelia millerii (MIL-uhr-eye) is crossed with Laelia tenebrosa (TEN-uh- bro-sah), the offspring is called Laelia Zip. If the SAME Laelia millerii is crossed with Laelia briegerii (bre-GUR-eye), the progeny are known as Laelia Seagull. The hybrid sign [ X ] can be used in the place of "crossed with" and the parentage indicated by a formula contained in parenthesis, such as Laelia Zip (L. millerii X L. tenebrosa). Note that the GENUS name is abbreviated. There are many genera that begin with the letter "L", so an abbreviation must be clearly understood. SANDERS lists all appropriate abbreviations. By custom, an abbreviation refers to the last mentioned genus before the abbreviation.
In orchids NOT ALL hybrids are made by crossing two different species within the same genus. Bigeneric hybrids are made by crossing species from two different GENERA, such as Laelia and Sophronitis. The offspring belong to a HYBRID GENUS and a new name is found, usually by combining part or all of the name of each parents GENUS. Thus, Laelia X Sophronitis = Sophrolaelia [Sl.] (sah-fro-LAY-lee-uh), and Laelia millerii X Sophronitis coccinea (cok-SIN-ee-uh) = Sophrolaelia [Sl.] Jinn. Another example is Laelia X Cattleya, a HYBRID GENUS called Laeliocattleya [Lc.] (lay-lee-oh-CAT-lay-uh).
When the offspring, after two or more generations of hybridization, contain parents from three or more different genera a new name is also given to the HYBRID GENUS. For example (Laeliocattleya X Sophronitis) = Sophrolaeliocattleya [Slc.] (sah-fro-lay-lee-oh-CAT-lay-uh). While in this example the new HYBRID GENUS name is composed of parts of the three parent genera, most HYBRID GENERA that contain parents from three or more different genera have their names formed by adding "ARA" (AH-ruh) to a proper name, usually a person being honored, such as Moirara = (Phalaenopsis X Renanthera X Vanda), named in honor of W. W. Goodale Moir.
Brassavola [B.] (brah-SAH-voh-luh)
Cattleya [C.] (CAT-lay-uh)
Cymbidium [Cym.] (sim-BID-ee-uhm)
Cypripedium [Cyp.] (sip-ruh-PEE-dee-uhm)
Dendrobium [Den.] (den-DRO-bee-uhm)
Epidendrum [Epi.] (ep-uh-DEN-drum)
Laelia [L.] (LAY-lee-uh)
Miltonia [Milt.] (mil-TOE-nee-uh)
Oncidium [Onc.] (on-SID-ee-uhm)
Phalaenopsis [Phal.] (fal-uh-NOP-sis)
Sophronitis [Soph.] (sah-FRO-ny-tis)
Vanda [V.] (VAN-duh)
AERIAL ROOTS - A type of root produced above or away from the growing media.
ANTHER - The part of the stamen that contains the pollen; located at the top of the column.
BACKBULB - An old pseudobulb, often without leaves but still alive and bearing live eyes, behind the actively growing portion of a sympodial orchid.
BASKET - A container for growing orchids, usually made of interlocked strips of wood. They offer maximum drainage and aeration of the growing media.
BIFOLIATE - Having two leaves. When used in reference to cattleyas it includes plants with two or more leaves.
BIGENERIC - A hybrid involving two different genera in the parentage.
CALLUS - A hard thickening or protruberence.
CHLOROPHYLL - The green pigment in plants which is essential to the production of food.
CHROMOSOME - Any of the microscopic rod-shaped bodies bearing genes.
CLONE - An individual plant and all of its vegetative divisions.
COLUMN - The organ of an orchid flower that is made up of both the male (anther) and female (style) reproductive parts.
COMPOST - A term commonly (but incorrectly) applied to any type of potting media for orchids.
CREST - A toothed, fringed, hairy adornment, or callus growth on the lip of some orchid flowers.
CROCK - Small pieces of broken pottery or Styrofoam "peanuts" placed in the bottom of a pot that aid in drainage.
CROSS - The mating of two different orchid clones, whether varieties, species, hybrids.
CROWN - The point where leaves grow from on monopodial orchids. Usually the V shaped area in the center of the plant.
CULTIVAR - An individual plant and all of its vegetative divisions; a horticultural variety.
DORSAL - Refers to the top side of a flower.
EPIPHYTE - A plant which grows perched upon another plant but DOES NOT derive its nourishment from it.
EYE - A live point from which a new growth can emerge.
FIR BARK - A potting media. Chopped or ground bark of the White, Red, or Douglas Fir.
GENE - The units in the chromosomes by which hereditary characteristics are transmitted.
GENUS - [plural GENERA] - A natural grouping of closely related but distinct species.
GROWTH - An individual pseudobulb.
GREX - A flock or group, applied collectively to the progeny of a given cross.
HABIT - The general appearance of a plant (whether it's erect, pendant, climbing, weedy, etc )
HABITAT - The environment in which a plant normally grows.
HAPUU - A potting media. Hawaiian tree fern fiber.
HYBRID - The offspring of the 2 different plants.
INFLORESCENCE - The flower stem with its flowers and buds.
INTERGENERIC - The offspring of the crossing of two plants of different genera.
KEIKI - Hawaiian word for baby, applied to an offset from an orchid plant (Especially Dendrobiums and Phalaenopsis).
LABELLUM - A modified petal, usually quite distinct from the other two petals; the median petal; the lip.
LEAF SPAN - The size of a plant, measured from leaf–tip to center of crown to other leaf–tip. Used on phalaenopsis, paphiopedilums & other monopodial orchids.
LIP - A modified petal, usually quite distinct from the other two petals; the median petal; the labellum.
MONOFOLIATE - Having 1 leaf. Often used in reference to cattleyas.
MONOPODIAL - The form of growth in which there is a single stem that continues to grow from the apex indefinitely.
NOVELTY - A recent introduction, A seedling or a sport, possessing unexpected but desirable qualities.
OSMUNDA - A potting media. Chopped roots of Osmunda fern.
OVARY - The part of the flower which develops into the fruit.
PANICLE - An inflorescence with a main stem and branches.
PEANUTS- Peanut shaped Styrofoam packing material.
PERLITE - A potting media. Expanded volcanic rock.
PETAL - One of the three inner segments which isn't modified to form a lip.
PHOTOSYNTHESIS - The process by which plants convert water and CO2 into sugar using sunlight as an energy source.
PISTIL - The ovule (seed) bearing organ of a flower (including, when complete, the ovary, style, and stigma).
POLLINIUM - [plural POLLINIA] - The coherent mass of pollen grains found in the anther.
POLYPLOID - A term applied to a plant which possesses one or more extra sets of chromosomes beyond the normal number for that plant.
POUCH - Replaces the lip in Paphiopedilum alliance plants, it's actually two petals that have fused.
PSEUDOBULB - A thickened portion of the stem (usually aerial) of many orchids.
RACEME - An unbranched inflorescence of stalked flowers.
RHIZOME - A root bearing, horizontal stem which progressively sends up leafy shoots.
SCAPE - An inflorescence that arises from the base of the pseudobulb.
SEMI-ALBA - A term applied to a white with colored lip.
SEPAL - One of the three outer segments of the flower.
SHEATH - A leaf-like structure that enfolds a stem, pseudobulb, or young inflorescence.
SPECIES - [singular & plural] - A natural grouping of individuals which have constant and distinctive characteristics.
SPIKE - Commonly used to refer to a plant that's producing an inflorescence, i.e. in spike.
An unbranched, upright flower stem bearing a number of short-stalked flowers.
SPRAY - An arching, multi- flowered flower stem which may or may not branch.
STAMEN - The pollen bearing organ of a flower.
STIGMA - The part of the pistil which receives the pollen.
STYLE - The slender part of the pistil, which connects the ovary with the stigma
SUBSTANCE - The thickness and firmness of tissue in flowers.
SYMPODIAL - A form of growth in which each new shoot, arising from the base of the previous growth, is complete in itself and terminates in a potential inflorescence.
TERRESTRIAL - Growing on the ground, either in soil or leaf litter.
TEXTURE - The features of a flowers surface which enhance appearance (sparkly, velvety, etc).
THROAT - The tubular portion of the lip, as in Cattleya
TREE FERN - A potting media. Chopped trunks of tropical ferns (primarily Cyatheaceae family).
VELAMEN - The thick corky layer of cells covering the roots of epiphytic orchids.