When you’re a new orchid owner, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the tremendous volume of orchid-care information available. A Google search for “orchid care” delivers nearly 3 million matches! But if you want to know about Phalaenopsis orchids, do you really want to waste your time wading through sites devoted to Cattleya or Dendrobium orchids? Narrowing your search to “Phalaenopsis orchid care” cuts the number of matches down to 164,000. Still a lot, but certainly more manageable.
In searching for orchid care advice, you need to be aware that there are two different types of orchids:
- Some orchids, like Phalaenopsis orchids are epiphytes that grow on tree branches in the tropics, using thick aerial roots to absorb moisture from the humid air.
- Some orchids are terrestrials that grow in loamy soil and use their hairy roots to obtain nutrients from the soil in a more conventional manner.
Orchids also have two different growing habits:
- Some orchids like Phalaenopsis orchids are monopodial, which means they produce a single stem from which leaves and flowers sprout.
- Some orchids are sympodial and have a thick, tuber-like rhizome from which multiple stems may sprout.
In searching for useful orchid care information, look for websites that focus on the specific variety of orchid you own. The orchid family (Orchidaceae) is large and diverse, containing roughly 25,000 species and thousands of hybrids. Found on every continent except Antarctica, orchids are one of the Earth’s two largest families of flowering plants. (The other is Asteraceae, which includes asters, daisies, sunflowers, dandelions and thousands of other species.) Limiting your search to the specific type of orchid you are interested in and using keywords specific to the information you seek (watering, reblooming, repotting, pests, etc.) will help you find the information you’re looking for more quickly.
Be sure to check out our Orchid Anatomy page to become even more about educated about orchids.