How to Identify Orchid Plants


There are approximate 30,000 types of orchids. In fact, they are the largest flowering family. They come in a wide array of colors and sizes. While identifying each and every variety by sight may take some time and effort, you can get a general idea of each orchid’s classification by learning the basic identifiers. Identifying their classes will allow you to provide them the proper light and water conditions in order to promote their growth.

Moderately Easy


things you’ll need:
  • Magnifying glass

How to Identify Orchid Plants

  1. Examine the orchid’s current planting medium. There are two main types of orchids: terrestrial and epiphyte. Terrestrial orchids are grown in the ground and epiphyte is grown on trees. Once one of these two types of orchids is identified you can move on to narrow down which orchid type you may have. If the orchid is currently in heavy potting medium such as peat moss and perlite then is a terrestrial orchid. Epiphytes require a coarse potting medium such as tree bark to thrive.
  2. Look closely at the plant’s leaves. You may need a magnifying glass for smaller or germinating plants. If the leaves are grass-like it is usually a terrestrial orchid. Epiphyte orchids have flat paddle-shaped leaves that store water because the plants grow in mediums like bark that do not hold water.
  3. Examine the orchid’s flowers. Orchids come in a wide array of colors and shapes; however, the orchid plant can be identified by its flower type. Orchid flowers usually have a "lip" or a petal called a labellum that is lower than all other petals growing on the flower. You can also identify that a flower is indeed an orchid by touching the flower. If the flowers feel waxy and thick, then it may be an orchid.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider visiting a local nursery to pick out specific orchid varieties.

  • Use plant tabs to label and identify your orchids once you identify their types.

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