orchid facts with purple orchids

The orchid is one of the most alluring and captivating flowers we have. Known to symbolize luxury, love, and beauty, it carries with it a certain mystique and undeniable charm that delight anyone who receives one of these plants. It’s no wonder, then, that orchids frequently appear on luxurious gift lists.

But don’t let the “luxury” label scare you off. You definitely get your money’s worth with orchids, as these blooming machines can produce flowers for months with the proper care. And with the variety of show-stopping colors and shapes they come in, orchids make a perfect gift for new homeowners, adding beauty and style to any space.

Learn more orchid facts and secrets behind these stunning blooms.

1. Orchids are old

Orchids are one of the oldest flowering plants known to man. Biologists at Harvard University discovered a fossilized bee carrying orchid pollen dating back at least 15 million years. Scientists have speculated that orchids have been around much longer than that, possibly as much as 100 million years.

2. Orchids have healing powers

In traditional Chinese medicine, the orchid was used to help cure coughs and lung illnesses. The Aztecs were known to drink a mixture of vanilla, orchid flowers, and chocolate to give them strength. The ancient Greeks believed certain species to be aphrodisiacs.

orchid facts with closeup of orchid

3. Orchids are symbolic

In general, orchids represent luxury, beauty, and strength. Keep in mind, though, that when gifting orchids, different types and colors can convey different messages.

4. Orchid hunting in Victorian times was no joke

In Victorian times, people were struck with “Orchidelirium,” as orchid collecting reached its peak. Wealthy fanatics dispatched explorers to exotic locations in search of new orchid colors, shapes, and textures. Victorians were so mystified by the orchid’s irresistible beauty that the flower became a status symbol and was displayed like a treasure in the home.

5. Orchids are deceptive

Orchids have a way of “tricking” the bees that pollinate them. Some species of orchids emit a special scent to attract pollinators, while others go so far as to resemble their female counterparts.

6. Orchids are suitable for eating (sort of)

Look in the pantry of almost every American household, and you’re likely to find a byproduct of one specific variety of orchid. One of the most common food preparation ingredients, vanilla, is actually cultivated from a seed pod of the vanilla orchid. This plant is native to Mexico and Belize, and also grows in other subtropical areas, such as Tahiti and Madagascar.

7. Orchids are used in feng shui décor

orchid facts with orchids in bedroom

The orchid is one of the celebrated four noble plants in Chinese culture. In feng shui, the orchid is used to enhance family and fertility.

The color of the orchid plays a vital role in determining its potency. Pink can help mend or maintain harmonious relationships, and white brings harmony to the household by filling the space with calm, clarity, innocence, and peace.

When placed in the relationship corner of the house — from your front doorway, it’s the far-right corner of your overall floor plan — an orchid, it’s believed, can help singles get hitched by drawing romance luck.

8. Orchid blooms can last for months

An orchid can bloom for two months or more and can continue to bloom year after year when cared for properly. Orchids like warmer daytime temperatures and cooler overnight temperatures to induce them to bloom.

To encourage future blooms, once all the flowers have fallen off, cut the stems back to about an inch above the planting line and continue watering as usual. Place the plant in a north-facing window with no direct sunlight for 45 days, or until a new stem develops. Once the new growth begins, place your orchid in the usual temperature for that species. Care for it like normal, and the flower stalk should soon grow back.

9. Orchids are easy to care for

Even in the winter, orchids are low maintenance. Give them indirect light, don’t water them too much, and keep them away from vents, and they can last for years.

10. Orchids come in almost 30,000 varieties

Phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, is the most popular and easiest type of orchid to grow. Dendrobium orchids are also popular and like bright sunny windows. Cymbidium orchids are the showiest kind, displaying many large, colorful flowers even in the darkest months of winter.

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Here’s a small sampling of popular types and species of orchids.

  • Phalaenopsis
  • Dendrobium
  • Cattleya
  • Vanilla orchid
  • Cymbidium
  • Epidendrum
  • Oncidium
  • Miltonia
  • Vanda
  • Odontoglossum
  • Nun’s orchid

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