There are up to 30,000 naturally occuring species of orchids, not including cultivated hybrids, and more than 110,000 species of cultivated orchids, with nearly 3,000 added to the list every year. These species are divided into different types based on their blooming habits, such as cold-weather or warm-weather blooming, as well as the shape and type of flower, making it easier for the home grower to select a plant suitable for their home or garden.
Cold weather orchids, Cymbidium are popular in part for their long lasting blooms. They are also within the capability of most home gardeners, and are often used as cut flowers and in bouquets. There are 44 species of Cymbidium. A cold spell is required in order for these orchids to bloom, and many are crossed with warm-blooming varieties so that they will bloom in warmer temperatures. Cymbidium are usually grown outdoors or in temperature controlled areas to ensure that they produce flowers.
Phalaenopsis are also known as Moth orchids. The nickname is due to the blooms' resemblance to groups of flying moths. Phalaenopsis are the type of orchid most often seen in stores that do not specialize in orchids. They are an ideal beginner orchid and can be grown in most homes as long as there is sufficient humidity. Although they usually only bloom one time each year, the blooms last for months. Some varieties can even be induced to bloom year-round if they are given proper care.
Commonly called lady slipper for its delicate shape, Paphiopedilum, are popular orchids that require special care. Although they can be grown successfully by beginners, they are best suited to someone who has experience with orchids. They are warm-growing plants, and like most other orchids require high humidity, between 40 and 80 percent. There are at least 199 types of lady slippers.
Like the lady slipper, Vanda requires special care to thrive, but is commonly grown in home greenhouses. It often outgrows the greenhouse, however, and can be planted outside in the right tropical or semi-tropical climate. Vanda produce large clusters of flowers called racemes. They typically flower in the summer. They can be grown indoors, but require the right amount of heat and humidity or they will not produce blooms.
Nearly as popular as moth orchids, Cattleya are also good for beginners. Many of the varieties of Cattleya have large, showy blooms. The blooms only appear once per year, but can last for months. They are found naturally in a wide range of conditions, but require specific amounts of light and humidity when kept indoors. Cattleya need 50 to 60 percent humidity and temperatures that stay between 75 and 85 degrees during the day.