The Anatomy of an Orchid

The Anatomy of an Orchid


The lower part of an Orchid is made up of the stem and root system. This is where water and vital nutrients become introduce d to the Orchid and then travel up the stem to various areas of the Orchid in which the energy is required. Pseudobulbs found within the root system of some but not all Orchids are extremely effective at absorbing and storing water. They need to be as well because in a lot of natural environment where Orchids grow, such as rainforests, the rain comes hard and fast so Orchids much store as much water as quickly as they can.

The stem of the Orchid supports the life giving leaves of the plant. Miniature Orchids have relatively fragile stems whereas other varieties of Orchid are known to have strong and sturdy stems.

You can tell if the leaves of your Orchid are healthy just by looking at them. Healthy leaves are bright green, wrinkleless and firm. If the leaves of your Orchid are of a dark green colour this means that your Orchid is compensating for a lack of light.

The spike of your Orchid supports the buds and then in turn the beautiful blooms of the plant. On the spikes of some Orchids you will see a single bloom or a cluster of flowers, such as on Cattleya Orchids. Whilst some varieties, such as Phalaenopsis Orchids, bloom along the length of the spike.

The flower is the most delicate and beautiful part of any Orchid and varies in appearance, colour, size and shape vastly between Orchid families and species. Despite this diversity all Orchid flowers have the same major parts.

Left over from the bud of the Orchid there are generally 3, some have 2, sepals on a flowering Orchid. There is a dorsal sepal said to be the top of the Orchid and 2 lateral sepals at the bottom of the flower.

There are always 3 petals on an Orchid, the lowest petal is referred to as the lip or labellum. This lip on the flower of your Orchid is what is used by insects to help them whilst they pollinate the flower of the Orchid. The lip of your Orchid is therefore where you will see the most amazing and wonderful colours, as it will attract insects that can pollinate your Orchid. Lady Slipper Orchids in particular have a much more rounded lip than other species of Orchid, which is also called a cup.

It is amazing that while Orchids are all made with the same essential parts and abilities there are still so many wondrous species for you to grow. This for me is why Orchids are so addictive, as you can always find a new variety that takes your fancy and can be added to your collection.


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