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Orchid Care: What Are the Different Parts of Your Orchid Plant?

 

parts-of-orchid-plant

Orchid names and even their various parts can sound too exotic sometimes that they can be confusing. It’s easy for a budding orchid enthusiast to feel a bit lost in translation when buying a new orchid plant or asking an expert about a question related to orchid growing.

Luckily, we’re here to help you with that. Expand your vocabulary and get to know your orchid plants up close.

Bloom

Our favorite and the most beautiful part of the orchid are, of course, the blooms or the actual flowers. Depending on the type of orchid plant, blooms come in a vast array of colors and sizes. Orchid blooms have different parts, too, such as:

  • Sepal – The outermost flower parts. The sepal at the top of the flower is called dorsal sepal while the two at the bottom are called lateral sepals.
  • Petal – The innermost part of the orchid bloom. There are three petals in an orchid flower: two on each side plus the lip or the labellum.
  • Lip – The lip is a standout petal. It’s the most eye-catching part of an orchid bloom, especially in cymbidiums or cattleya orchids. In nature’s process of pollination, the lip usually serves the purpose of the landing strip for pollinating insects, such as bees.
  • Column – It’s the fleshy part in the center of the orchid flower that holds the vital reproductive parts.

Buds

The buds refer to the baby orchid flowers before they open up or bloom.

Keiki

Keiki is a Hawaiian term, which means baby, that is used to refer to the offshoot or the tiny plant that develops from a mature orchid plant’s spike or cane.

Pseudobulb

The thick part of the stem found in cattleya orchids, dendrobium orchids, and other types of sympodial orchid plants. Pseudobulbs are essential because they act as storage houses of food and water to sustain the orchid plant during dry conditions.

There are two types of orchid pseudobulbs:

  • Front bulbs – These pseudobulbs can be seen on the younger part of the plant and are actually the actively growing part where flowers will sprout from.
  • Back bulbs – These are old pseudobulb on the lower part of the plant. When they are green, even with no more leaves, they provide significant nourishment to the orchid plant. They can also be used sometimes to propagate new orchid plants.

Sheath

The tube-shaped base of the leaf surrounding the flower spike. It encloses emerging inflorescence. Cattleya orchid buds actually come out from a sheath.  

Inflorescence

This refers to the flowering part of the plant and is sometimes more commonly known as the spike. Usually, an inflorescence has other parts, such as peduncle, pedicle, and the orchid bloom itself.

There are several types of inflorescence in orchids. This includes:

  • Raceme – A Phalaenopsis orchid blooms of a raceme, which is a type of an inflorescence with short-stalked flowers and can be either upright, arched, or trailing.
  • Scape – A simple inflorescence where one flower grows at the top. An excellent example would be the Paphiopedilum orchids or lady slipper orchids.

Leaves

They may look all the same to you but orchid leaves differ depending on the orchid type. They can be thin and long as seen in oncidium orchids; fleshy as the leaves of a phalaenopsis orchid, or hard and waxy as that of a dendrobium and cattleya orchid.

The leaves are the best indicator if your orchid is getting enough light. Yellowish leaves mean your plant is getting a sunburn, while dark green leaves mean it’s getting too little light. Generally, a healthy orchid plant should have grassy, yellow-green leaves.

Roots

Found at the bottom part of the orchid plant, the roots consist of the wiry filaments that absorb water and nutrients in the air. Actively growing orchids have green or sometimes reddish root tips. The longer the green tips are, the faster your orchid is growing.

Stem/Spike

The long stalky part of the plant where the leaves and the flowers are attached to.

Stake

This refers to the wooden or plastic stick that supports the orchid spike. We use midollino wires or sticks for our orchid arrangements.

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