Growing Orchids : Anatomy & Terms

I’ve given several copies of Ryan’s Orchids Made Easy book to friends as gifts over the years.  They’ve thanked me time and time again for giving them an easy-to-follow orchid care book written by a truly wonderful expert orchid care grower.  Ryan’s book and Free Orchid Care Tips (sign up now) have shown Vic that “even after 50 years of orchid growing, there is still lots to learn about orchids!”

Personally, I love how systematic and clear the book is–it is well laid out, jam-packed with information and well illustrated.  It’s my treasure trove of information and I refer to it often!

But, it doesn’t stop there.  I even had a color page from his Ebook professionally printed and hung near my work sink as art.  I tried taking a picture of it this morning, but there was too much glare from outside (I’ll have to add it later for you)!  Since, I can’t share the page with you now, I did the next best thing and found a similar image online.

Here are a few diagrams and terms every person growing orchids should understand.

Please note : These images are of a Phalaenopsis Orchid and while your orchid may be a different variety, you can still use these diagrams to learn about the anatomy of your specific plant.

Orchid Diagrams:

Phalaenopsis Orchid, Orchid Care, Orchids

(click on images to enlarge)

Phalaenopsis Orchid, Orchid Care, OrchidsOrchid Care, Orchid Flower

Orchid Terms:

  • Bloom – the actual flowers once they are open.
  • Bud – the flower before it is opened.
  • Column – the tiny, rounded, column-like extension between the two largest petals. This little guy is the central reproductive organ of the orchid flower.
  • Inflorescence – the flowering part of a plant.
  • Keiki – a small plant growing from a node on the flower stem.
  • Leaves – located above the roots.
  • Lip – the part of the flower that is almost completely divided from the rest of the flower, however, it is connected by the column. The lip is specialized to aid in pollination.
  • Medium – the material added to an orchid’s container, which can range from varieties such as soil to bark.
  • Node – a distinct joint or notch on the inflorescence from which a secondary flower stem can emerge from after the primary inflorescence has finished blooming.
  • Roots – located just below the leaves.
  • Sepal – the outer segments on an orchid flower. Similar to petals, sepals are the three smaller segments of the flower that create a triangular shape.
  • Spike/Stem – a flower stalk.
  • Stake – a wooden stick to support the orchid spike.
  • Throat – the inner portion of a tubular orchid lip, often quite colorful.

Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,

Carol :)
The Orchid Care Lady

Carol the Orchid Care Lady

+ Diagrams & Terms courtesy of JustAddIce Orchids

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9 Responses to “Growing Orchids : Anatomy & Terms”

I have to do a project on plants

Ihave a pregnant ochid ,and i don’t know how to move forword can you please exstend some curtacy information on this topic to . Thank YOU

I have an orchid that i gave to my mom when she was sick, she is gone now. But this orchid has grown a root up at the top? I’m not sure what to do, can I make another plant? Should I leave it alone?I want to keep the plant alive:) I posted  it on my timeline:)

Hi Julie,
Check out my post on keikis. Sounds like you’ll want to repot the baby plant!
Good Luck!

what are the air roots purpose and how long will they grow?

Hi Julie!
The air roots help your plant absorb moisture from the air. You’ll want to mist them every few days to keep them plump (not wrinkled and dry).
A typical orchid in the wild will use these air roots to grasp on to a tree trunk or rock. There is no length min or max for them. :-)

I have an orchid that was purchased back in October 2013 and it was in full bloom. Since then the flowers have died and fallen off. Now, it looks like there are little buds that are growing, but they don’t seem to be getting any bigger. They’re still green and very small.  Is there a reason they aren’t growing? Am I being too impatient? :)  They’ve been this way for about 1 mo, maybe longer.

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