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Flowers Similar to Orchids

tricyrtis toad lily image by Jan Ebling from Fotolia.com

Orchids are tropical flowers from one of the most diverse plant families on earth. With 750 to 100 genera and 18,000 to 20,000 species, and distributed worldwide, is it any wonder they are such popular flowers and prized by collectors? Orchid flowers are as varied as the family itself, and grow as solitary flowers, in panicles, racemes or spikes. As varied as they are, it is not surprising that there are other plants with orchid-like flowers. You don't have to live in the tropics to have flowers similar to orchids in your landscape.

Roscoea

Roscoea ("Roscoea" sp.) is a member of the ginger family native to the Himalayan mountains of southern China and northern Vietnam. Shoots appear in the late spring, and pale blue, purple or white orchid-like flowers bloom over tall, blade-like leaves in late summer. Plants grow to 15 inches tall and like partial shade and moist soil. Propagation is by division of rhizomes in the spring. Roscoea can withstand temperatures from 16 degrees F to 92 degrees F.

  • Orchids are tropical flowers from one of the most diverse plant families on earth.
  • As varied as they are, it is not surprising that there are other plants with orchid-like flowers.

Angelonia

Angelonia ("Angelonia angustifolia") is an erect perennial plant whose foliage is reported by some to smell like ripe apples. Angelonia bears 1-inch orchid-like blooms on spikes in colors of rose, lilac and blue. Angelonia blooms over a four- to six-week period during the summer in temperate climates.

Toad Lily

Toad lily ("Tricyrtis formosana") is hardy from zones 4 to 9, and is a herbaceous perennial that blooms in August and September. Toad lily grows to 2 feet in height. The orchid-like flowers are white with red-purple spots and yellow throats. These low-maintenance beauties like full to partial shade and medium to wet soil.

  • Angelonia ("Angelonia angustifolia") is an erect perennial plant whose foliage is reported by some to smell like ripe apples.
  • Angelonia bears 1-inch orchid-like blooms on spikes in colors of rose, lilac and blue.

Types Of Orchids That Produce Red & Yellow Flowers

The Encyclia citrina orchid was once part of the Cattleya family of orchids, but was subsequently divided out into its own family since its flower shape was different from other orchids within this huge family categorization. A true epiphyte, these orchids typically have a red and yellow color mixture on the top petal with the two lower petals colored red. Seen in a variety of colors, the moth orchid can generate pure red petals with some minor spotting. These epiphytes cannot store any moisture for future use; they must keep their roots exposed to small amounts of moisture throughout the day. Unlike the face of the moth orchid, this orchid uses a more subtle and flat petal shape to attract insects; the brilliant red spotting against the yellow produces a bright target for the pollinators.

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