Orchids are the largest family of flowers in the world. With the ability to grow anywhere, orchids can be found in warm and cool climates. The majority of orchids are found growing on trees, forest floors and around rocks. With more than 25,000 different species worldwide, there are around 250 orchids native to the United States.
Slipper orchids, sometimes called lady slippers, have pouch-shaped lips and a waxy sheen to their petals. The distinct feature of slipper orchids is the area called the sepal, which looks like an inverted heart. Slipper orchids flower from fall to spring, although they have hybrids that can bloom all year. Slipper orchids hailing from Borneo have side petals that hang down a monstrous 3 feet, making this the largest orchid in the world. Lady slippers require humidity between 50 and 60 percent due to their origin on the rain forest floor. Because they grow in the shaded areas of the forest floor, they should not receive much sunlight.
Native to Southeast Asia, dendrobium orchids are one of the largest orchid groups in the world with more than 1200 different species. Petal colors include white, pink, yellow, purple and green. Dendrobiums grow in a variety of climates, from hot climates and wet lowlands to high-altitude mountains. A few species are epiphytes, meaning they hold their leaves all year round. Dendrobiums prefer strong, natural sunlight and during their growing season. They require high humidity and lots of water. Once the growing season has ended, cut back the amount of water to approximately every 10 days.
One of the easiest orchids to care for is the moth orchid. Its name stems from the exotic blooms that resemble a moth in flight. Originating from Southeast Asia, there are more than 60 different moth orchid species. Most moth orchids are epiphytic, meaning they attach themselves to other plants. They are also monopodial, meaning they have a single stem and single growth of blooms. Ideal for new orchid growers, moth orchids require low to medium light. A good indicator of correct light will be bright green leaves.