Besides their beauty, orchids are well known for their diversity too. This diversity mostly refers to the flowers, but another division that we can do is to list types of orchids by leaves.
Although this division is very modest when compared to flowers, (or… just simply modest as there will be only 6 varieties described here) they still deserve an article of their own.
Why Is Important To Learn About Types Of Orchids By Leaves
It is important to learn about types of orchids by leaves because it’s one of the many ways to differentiate them. Orchids are one of the most diverse plant families, with over 25,000 species and more than 100,000 hybrids, and if we want to learn about them systematically, it is necessary to divide them into groups, gathered around some common feature. Some of those features can be the types of orchid leaves.
Yes, yes, I know… Their flowers are that eye-catching element, that grabs our attention and hearts. But, to be honest, the most part of the year we spent with their leaves, without flowers. Some species even bloom just for a day or two, so all other time we are “stuck” with the leaves. And some species, like jewel orchids, are truly famous because of their leaves.
Learning about orchid leaves can help us a lot in providing proper care for our flower pet, as by the type of leaves, we can find out what our orchids like. On the leaves, we can see the first signs of problems when they come, so gathering knowledge on orchids leaves is essential.
What Are The Types Of Orchids By Leaves?
Orchid leaves come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and textures, and they can provide important clues about a plant’s care requirements and potential pests or diseases. As promised above, we will explore the various types of orchids by leaves and offer tips for their care.
|Type of leaves||How it looks||Examples of Orchids|
|Plicate-leaved orchids||Leaves are folded like a fan, with parallel ridges running along the length of the leaf.||Cattleya and Laelia|
|Terete-leaved orchids||Cylindrical or pencil-shaped leaves that are usually long and thin||Vanda and Ascocenda|
|Semi-terete orchids||Combination of plicate and terete, with ridges that are not as pronounced as in plicate-leaved orchids.||Dendrobium and Bulbophyllum|
|Strap-leaved orchids||Leaves that are long, flat, and strap-like, with no fold or twist.||Epidendrum and Phalaenopsis|
|Oblong-leaved orchids||Leaves that are elongated and oval-shaped with a pointed tip.||Miltonia and Odontoglossum|
|Circular-leaved orchids||Have leaves that are perfectly round, with a slight indentation in the center.||Maxillaria and Masdevallia|
1. Plicate-leaved orchids
Plicate-leaved orchids are a type of orchid that are characterized by their pleated or folded leaves. There are many different species of plicate-leaved orchids, including the popular Phalaenopsis orchid.
Phalaenopsis orchids, also known as moth orchids, are a popular species of orchid that are native to tropical Asia, specifically the Philippines and some parts of Southeast Asia. They are commonly grown as houseplants and prized for their large, showy blooms and ease of care.
Phalaenopsis orchids typically have long, arching stems with thick, waxy leaves and a cluster of flowers at the end of each stem. The flowers can be white, pink, purple, or a combination of these colors, and often have a delicate, sweet fragrance.
When caring for Phalaenopsis orchids, it is important to provide them with bright, indirect light, a well-draining potting mix, and regular watering. They prefer to be kept consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Fertilizer can be applied once a month during the growing season to promote healthy growth and flowering.
Other common representatives of this type of orchid include Paphiopedilum, Cattleya, and Dendrobium. Each of these species has its own unique characteristics and care requirements.
2. Terete-leaved orchids
Terete-leaved orchids are a type of orchids that are characterized by their cylindrical or pencil-shaped leaves. These orchids are known for their unique and slender appearance, which can vary widely depending on the species.
There are many different species of terete-leaved orchids, including the popular Vanda orchid.
Vanda orchids are a type of orchid that is native to tropical Asia, specifically India, Southeast Asia, and parts of the Philippines. They are highly prized for their vibrant and showy flowers, which can come in a range of colors including blue, purple, pink, and yellow.
Vanda orchids typically have long, thin stems with thick, leathery leaves that can grow up to two feet long. The flowers grow in clusters along the stem and can last for several weeks to several months. Vanda orchids are epiphytes, meaning they grow on trees in their natural habitat and absorb moisture and nutrients from the air and rain.
Overall, Vanda orchids are a stunning addition to any indoor or outdoor garden but may require a bit more specialized care than some other types of orchids. With the right conditions, however, they can produce a showstopping display of vibrant, long-lasting blooms.
Other common representatives of the Terete-leaved type of orchid include Ascocentrum, Aerides, and Angraecum. It is important to research the specific needs of your orchid to ensure that it thrives.
3. Semi-terete orchids
Semi-terete orchids are a type of orchid that have leaves that are a cross between terete and plicate-leaved orchids. These orchids have semi-cylindrical leaves that are slightly flattened or grooved on one or both sides.
For proper care, in general, provide them with a well-draining potting mix, plenty of light, and regular watering. Still, you need to learn about the specific needs of your exact orchid, to make them thrive.
There are many different species of semi-terete orchids, including the popular Oncidium orchid. Other common representatives of this type of orchid include Catasetum, Miltonia, and Zygothamnus.
4. Strap-leaved orchids
Strap-leaved orchids are a type of orchid that are characterized by their long, narrow leaves that resemble straps or ribbons. These orchids are known for their graceful and elegant appearance.
When thinking of strap-leaved orchids, the first one that comes to my mind is Cymbidium orchid.
These types of orchids are native to tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, including China, India, and Southeast Asia. They are popular ornamental plants and are widely cultivated around the world.
Cymbidium orchids can vary in size depending on the species and variety. Some varieties are compact and only grow to be a few inches tall, while others can grow to be several feet tall with stems that are several feet long. The leaves can also vary in length, with some species having leaves that are only a few inches long, while others have leaves that are several feet long.
The flowers of Cymbidium orchids are typically large and showy and can come in a wide range of colors (white, yellow, pink, purple, and green) The flowers are often arranged in clusters at the top of the stem and can last for several weeks to several months.
Other common representatives of strap-leaved orchids include Epidendrum, Laelia, and Masdevallia.
5. Oblong-leaved orchids
Oblong-leaved orchids are a type of orchid that have leaves that are elongated and narrow, with pointed ends. The leaves can range in size depending on the species of orchid and can be smooth or have a slightly wrinkled texture.
6. Round-leaved orchids
Round-leaved orchids, such as Maxillaria and Masdevallia, are a type of orchid that are characterized by their rounded leaves with a slight indentation in the center.
Maxillaria and Masdevallia are the main representatives of circular-leaved orchids. Maxillaria orchids have showy flowers that come in a variety of colors, while Masdevallia orchids have a unique “whisker-like” structure on their flowers.
Other common representatives of this type of orchid include Dracula, Lycaste, and Stelis. Each of these species has its own unique characteristics and care requirements, so it is important to research the specific needs of your orchid to ensure that it thrives.
Other Features of Orchids Leaves
In the above part of the article, we described types of orchid leaves by their shape. Now we might focus on some other features like thickness and surface structure.
1. Thick and Suculent
Some types of orchid leaves we will explore are those that are thick and succulent, such as those found in the genus Paphiopedilum, also known as Lady’s Slipper orchids.
These leaves are adapted to store water and nutrients, which allows them to thrive in low-humidity environments. They are prone to root rot if overwatered, so it is important to let the soil dry out completely between waterings. Paphiopedilum orchids prefer bright, indirect light and should be fertilized every two weeks during the growing season.
2. Thin And Grass-Like
Another type of orchid leaves are those that are thin and grass-like, such as those found in the genus Cymbidium. These leaves are adapted to grow in cooler environments and can handle temperatures as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cymbidium orchids prefer bright, indirect light and should be watered once a week during the growing season. They are susceptible to pests such as spider mites and mealybugs, so it is important to inspect the plant regularly and treat any infestations immediately.
3. Long, Narrow Leaves
Orchids with long, narrow leaves are found in the genus Vanda. These leaves are adapted to grow in humid environments and can handle direct sunlight. Vanda orchids prefer to be watered frequently and should be fertilized every two weeks during the growing season.
4. Thin And Waxy Orchid Leaves
Epiphytic orchids, such as those found in the genus Oncidium, are adapted to grow on other plants or surfaces. Their leaves are often thin and waxy, and they allow the plant to absorb moisture and nutrients from the air.
Oncidium orchids prefer bright, indirect light and should be watered once a week during the growing season, but as for all other types, overwatering is forbidden.
My personal favorite type of orchid is the Phalaenopsis orchid, which has broad, flat leaves that are adapted to store water and nutrients, so no more watering than once a week, or even These leaves can handle indirect sunlight and should be watered once a week or even less than that.
Understanding the various types of orchid leaves can help you provide the best care for your plants and prevent pests and diseases. Whether you prefer thick and succulent leaves, thin and grass-like leaves, long and narrow leaves, or broad and flat leaves, there is an orchid for every preference.
By following the care instructions for each type of orchid, you can enjoy overcome challenges, and enjoy the beauty and diversity of these amazing plants, for a long time.