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Types of Orchids

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What Types of Roots Does an Orchid Plant Have?


Orchids can grow in soil, on rocks and in trees. The roots of the rock and tree dwellers cling tightly to the surface and are often almost impossible to remove.


Most orchid roots are of the epiphytic type, meaning they grow attached to other surfaces--often trees--and absorb moisture from the air and the bark surface. There are two parts of an orchid root: the outer covering, called the velamen, and the tough inner core or cortex.


The outer velamen absorbs water, nutrients and oxygen while clinging tightly to its chosen surface. The strong inner cortex carries nutrients for the plant.


Orchid roots adapt in order to maximize effectiveness in absorbing nutrients in the air. For example, some orchid roots grow upward, extending their roots to absorb moisture in the air.


Orchid roots are sensitive to change and grow for their specific environment, so changes to the environment have to be made slowly so the plant can grow a new set of roots.

How to Buy a Ghost Orchid

The ghost orchid, also known as Dendrophylax lindenii, is native to Florida, Cuba and many other Caribbean islands, according to First discovered in 1844, this strange orchid has no leaves. Instead it has air roots that latch onto trees. Ghost orchids are very rare; there are only about 1,200 in the wild in Florida's swamps. However, ghost orchids can be bought as seedlings and grown at home.

  • The ghost orchid, also known as Dendrophylax lindenii, is native to Florida, Cuba and many other Caribbean islands, according to
  • However, ghost orchids can be bought as seedlings and grown at home.

Find a local nursery that sells orchids and inquire about ghost orchids. Many orchid dealers do not sell ghost orchids because they are a bit difficult to grow, but your local orchid dealer or orchid society may know a local nursery that carries one. Order a ghost orchid through your local orchid nursery if possible.

Find a nursery online that can ship you a ghost orchid seedling if you cannot find a local one. Try to buy a more mature seedling, if possible, as they have a better success rate than smaller seedlings.

Prepare a terrarium for the ghost orchid. They need a wire or wooden mount, little indirect sunlight and a constant source of humidity in order to survive.


Be sure to buy your ghost orchid from a reputable orchid dealer to ensure your ghost orchid was not stolen from a swamp.

Orchids: How to Cut Back the Stalk

Wait until the flower blossoms wilt and fall off the central orchid stalk and then wait until the stalk turns yellow or brown. The time for this to occur varies based on species.

Hold back the lower foliage of the orchid with one hand and trace the dead central stalk back to where it emerges from the center of the orchid plant.

Measure up approximately 1 inch from the base of the stem and cut the stalk off using pruning shears or a scalpel, making the cut straight across the top. Do not prune lower than 1 inch above the base or you may injure the other foliage or the base of the orchid plant.

Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon in your hand and cover the cut end of the orchid stem with the cinnamon, which acts as a natural fungicide to prevent infection.

How to Transplant a Lady's Slipper

orchid image by Earl Robbins from

Step 1

Transplant only nursery-grown lady’s slippers. It is nearly impossible to dig the entire root system of a lady’s slipper orchid growing on your property, and without it, plants will not survive.

Step 2

Transplant potted lady’s slipper orchids only during their dormant season, in fall or early winter, according to an article on the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau’s website. Begin by carefully removing the plant from its pot and gently shaking the old soil from its roots.

Step 3

Mix an acidic-based potting soil, such as that used for azaleas, with a handful of leaf litter and pine needles for each 1-gallon pot you are using.

Step 4

Place a small amount of your potting soil mixture into the bottom of the pot into which you will move your lady’s slipper plant. Gently place the orchid in the new pot and fill it to within ½ inch of the lip with additional potting mix.

Step 5

Water your plant well and keep it in an area where it will receive filtered sunlight; lady’s slippers do not thrive in either deep shade or full sun.

How to Identify Orchid Plants

How to Identify Orchids

  • Carefully look at a flower or plant you think might be an orchid.
  • Look at the orchid flower to help determine whether it is an orchid and what kind.

Carefully look at a flower or plant you think might be an orchid. If you cannot remove the flower or plant from premises, take a picture of the face of the flower and the foliage. Also take a picture of how the plant is rooted. For example, is it growing on other vegetation, on rocks, on the ground or under leaves.

Identify the orchid by how it is growing. If it is growing on other vegetation it is an Epiphyte. If found growing in the crevice of rocks, then it is probably a Lithophyte. If growing in or on the ground, then the orchid is known as a Terrestrial. There is another type that grows under leaves or underground and it is known as a Saprophyte.

Look at the orchid flower to help determine whether it is an orchid and what kind. The easiest way to identify an orchid is by looking at the flower. Every orchid flower has a lip or labellum that is visible in place of a flower petal. The lip is used as an access point for pollinators.

Look at the leaves and how they are growing. Orchid leaves are usually grassy or lance-like except for the epiphyte leaf that stores water.

Compare your picture of the orchid plant with pictures from references to narrow down the exact type of orchid you are attempting to identify.

Why Are My Orchid Flowers Wilting?

Your orchids could be wilting due to sodium-softened water, a change in the temperature around the orchid, or ethylene in the air.

How to Grow Poor Man's Orchid (Schizanthus Pinnatus)

Paphiopedilum Orchid Plant Information


The Lady Slipper Orchid has a cup like lip and a dorsal sepal. They have a variety of colors. They can be seen growing in the ground, on rocks, and even in trees.


They can have one or more flowers bloom on a stem, but some can have up to six, depending on the species. Flowers measure 2 to 5 inches wide and last around 6 weeks. They need cool nights and low light; they are good for growth in the shade.


The Lady Slipper orchid does best with a feeding of 30-10-20 or 30-10-10 fertilizer (half strength) if in bark mulch beds (preferred).

Temperature Requirements

The Paphiopedilum orchid needs at least 55 degrees F at night minimum if the species has green leaves, 60 to 65 degrees F if it’s a mottled species. Moderate humidity is best. Indoor orchids do not need to be a window plant, and make sure they are cool and dry.


With the lack of a pseudobulb, the Lady Slipper Orchid needs regular watering. Keep the orchid moist but not wet, watering early in the day. Water the plant every 5 to 7 days.

Can Climbing Roots of an Orchid Produce Another Plant?

orchids image by Evgeny Berdjansky from

A sympodial orchid is a type of orchid that produces new shoots from the rhizome, which grows to become another plant. However, not all orchids do this. A monopodial orchid does not have a rhizome but has a single stem that continues to grow and sprout new leaves each year.

How to Preserve an Orchid Corsage

Remove any metal fixtures from the orchid corsage. If you're able to, use only the flowers and the ribbon of the corsage and discard of the other parts.

Place an acrylic sheet in front of you.

Place the orchid corsage in the center of the acrylic sheet. Center it perfectly.

Gently push down on the protruding petals of the orchid blossoms. Make sure not to snap them completely, just halfway so they lay flat against the acrylic.

Line the outer edges of the acrylic sheet with super glue.

Place the second acrylic sheet directly over the other sheet, pinning the corsage between them. Press down firmly to flatten, or "press," the orchid flowers.

Make sure the two acrylic sheets are pressed completely together and are airtight. The orchid corsage will flatten completely.

Allow the pressed corsage to sit undisturbed for a day before attempting to move it.


Display the preserved corsage as a work of art on your mantel or keep it locked away as a treasured keepsake.

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