Category Archives: Phalaenopsis

Five Popular Types of Orchid (With Pictures)

Hey guys,

I thought I’d kick off this blog with a post about some of the different types of orchids that you can grow.

With over 20’000 currently recognized species spread over 880 genera, the Orchidacae is one of the largest families of flowering plants (and that doesn’t include hybrids or cultivars), so listing every single one of them would be a mammoth task!

Instead, I’ve chosen five of the most popular types of orchid; Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, Dendrobium, Cattleya and Cymbidium.

Phalaenopsis Orchid

Phalaenopsis Orchid


Phalaenopsis (often called Moth Orchids or shortened to simply Phals) are perhaps the most common orchid available. Many florists and other outlets such as supermarkets and grocery stores will stock moth orchids, so you won’t need to visit a specialist supplier to purchase one (although there is the risk that they may not have been looked after properly).

They are mostly epiphytic (which means they grow on trees or other objects) although a few species are lithophytes (which means they grow on rocks).

A single stem will grow one or two large leaves each year from the top, whilst older leaves (lower down the stem) will drop off.

They are dubbed moth orchids because their flowers closely resemble a moth with it’s wings spread (see picture). Flowers appear from spikes that grow from the stem between the leaves once a year and can last anywhere between a few weeks and a few months. The number of flowers on a single plant can vary.

Phals are one of the easiest orchids to grow and are recommended for beginners.

Paphiopedilum Orchid

Paphiopedilum Orchid


Paphiopedilum (also called Slipper Orchids, Lady Slipper Orchids or simply Paphs) are another very common type of orchid.

They are mostly terrestrial orchids because they live on land, usually in the bark and humus of the forest floor although a few are epiphytes and lithophytes.

They are identifiable by the slipper-shaped, which “pouch” they have on the lower part of their blooms (other rarer genera also have this characteristic and are called similarly slipper orchids, but if you see an orchid with a pouch, 9 times out of 10 it will be a Paph).

Paphs are sequential bloomers, which means each spike will only produce one flower at a time, but as the bloom wilts, another will grow to replace it.

Paphs are fairly easy to care for and another good choice for beginner orchid growers.

Dendrobium Orchid

Dendrobium Orchid


Dendrobiums is one of the largest genus of orchids, being made up of over a thousand species.

They are mostly epiphytic although a few are lythophytic.

Unlike the monopodial growth habit of phals and paphs, dendrobiums grow pseudobulbs on leaf stems, which are basically a form of food and water storage.

They grow rapidly during the summer months but slow down during the winter and it may appear they have become dormant.

Flowers grow in clusters of between 1 and 100 at the end of the stems making them one of the most beautiful orchids to look at,however they can be more difficult to grow and get to bloom than phals and paphs.

Cattleya Orchid

Cattleya Orchid


Cattleya orchids originated from Central and South America and is perhaps the most recognized of all orchids – an image of the Cattleya’s flowers is what would appear in many people’s mind when thinking of orchids.

They are epiphytic and, like dendrobiums, produce pseudobulbs to store food and water.

They have wonderful large, showy flowers but sadly only bloom for a few weeks each year. The flowers usually consist of three narrow sepals and three larger petals (see picture). Each flower stalk will grow from the pseudobulb and the number of flowers can vary, although in the majority of cases they are in single figures.

Cymbidium Orchid

Cymbidium Orchid


Cymbidiums (also known as Boat Orchids) are a genus that produce some of the most beautiful orchid flowers in the World, consisting of a wide range of colors including white, green, yellow, brown, pink, red,orange and various shades in between.

They are sympodial and, like Dendrobiums and Cattleya, make use of pseudobulbs for moisture and nutrient storage. They grow in the wild as terrestrial, lithophytic and epiphytic orchids.

Cymbidiums bloom in the winter or early spring and are a lot more robust when contending with colder temperatures than orchids in other genera. Their beauty combined with their toughness make them an ideal choice for the beginner orchid grower.