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Orchids: The Two Main Types and How They Differ


10:00 AM - January 15, 2013 by Adam Short

Though there are over thousands of different orchid species and hybrids all over the world, surprisingly, only two main orchids types exist. The two main types are the terrestrial orchids and the epiphytes orchids. The former type grows on the ground, while the latter grows on rocks, trees and poles.

Terrestrial Orchids

Some of the most well-known and popular orchids are the terrestrial orchid species. Like many other kinds of plants, these orchids have roots that grow below the surface of the soil. There are also terrestrial orchids that are semi-terrestrial, which means that they have roots that are both underground and aerial.

A well-known terrestrial orchid is the Cymbidium orchid. Cymbidium orchids have over 40 species and thousands of hybrids. They are also known to be one of the first species to have been cultivated.

Although they are a terrestrial orchid, they can actually grow on the ground as well as on rocks and trees. They thrive growing in decayed leaves and the loose humus of rotted wood.

Cymbidium orchids have been grown all over the world, though their natural habitat is in Southeast Asia all the way to Japan. They are really popular due to the ease with which they can be grown, which makes them a perfect choice for home gardeners. With the proper amount of care, they will certainly grow beautiful and fragrant flowers yearly.

Epiphyte Orchids

Among the many different epiphytes orchids in the world, the best known one would be the Dendrobiums. They are also known for being easy to care for, but they do need a more specialized care than cymbidium orchids. They also do not bloom as easily or as regularly.

Over a thousand species of dendrobiums are currently in existence. They are mostly seen growing in the tropical climates of Southeast Asia, Northern India, Polynesia and Australia.

Dendrobiums flourish in warm and humid conditions. A moist environment makes them thrive.

The Phalaenopsis is another popular epiphyte orchid. They are also easy to grow and have flowers that bloom for a long time. They are a popular wedding flower as different colors of these orchids exist, which includes yellows, pinks and even stripes.

Even though epiphyte orchids grow on trees, they do not get their nourishment from the trees. They mainly get their nutrients from their fleshy roots that cling onto the bark and branches of the trees. Between the roots and branches, organic matter accumulates and this is where the plants get their nutrients.

The roots sustain the orchids through both dry and wet times, as they have a stringy, tough core covered by a spongy, almost white covering that is known to absorb water quite easily. Every time it rains, this covering soaks up water and turns light green once it is completely saturated. The roots retain the water until the plants need it, then they will gradually release moisture to the tissue of the plants.

Since they grow on rocks and trees, epiphyte orchids flourish in open places that have good air circulation and filtered light.

No matter which of these two orchids types you choose to grow, just some simple instructions in caring for orchids will give you with beautiful, fragrant orchids that will surely add beauty to your home.

photo credit: Orchid on a tree photopin (license)

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