Orchid Plants: Characteristics, Propagation, Cultivation, Pests & Diseases Control


Orchids are one of the most diverse and massive groupings of angiosperms, with about 25,000 species and over 850 genera. They are mostly grown for their gorgeous blossoms and are well-known for their commercial value, rather than their medical use. The Chinese were the first to give documented proof of the orchid’s medical applications. The term orchid (órkhis) means “testicles” in Greek, and it was Theophrastus who first invented the term because the architecture of the plant resembles testicles.

Orchid plant


1. Orchids are one of nature’s most gorgeous creations, and in floriculture, they symbolize royalty and nobility.

2. They are one of the most developed plant families, with 20,000-30,000 different species.

3. Orchids are among the most valuable decorative plants. Orchids make up a significant portion of the global floriculture trade, both as cut flowers and as potted plants, accounting for roughly 10% of the global fresh cut flower trade.

4. Leaves 1 to numerous, alternating or infrequently opposite, generally distichous, occasionally terete or canaliculate

5. Fruit is a capsule with three or six slots on the side that open laterally. Seeds are abundant, dusty, lack endosperm, and are only infrequently winged.

6. They provide a source of great aesthetic value due to their unusual shape, beautiful colors, and extremely extended shelf life. Orchid cultivation has become a hugely profitable industry around the world as a result of these characteristics.

 7. Orchids make lovely potted plants, basket fillers, and cut flowers. The world’s entire orchid cut flower commerce is dominated by Dendrobium species, with just 15% of Phalaenopsis and Cymbidium species, and Asia is the primary source of orchids.

8. Several Indian species, such as alien species, have commercial potential in the floriculture business and should be properly exploited.

9. It is necessary to develop agro-technology for large-scale production in varied climatic regions of the country. Although the north-eastern and southern states are unsuitable for orchid cultivation, the demand for orchids across the country has expanded dramatically in recent years.


Propagation of Orchids, like most plants, can reproduce themselves in two ways:

 (A) Sexually by seed

(B) Asexually by vegetative propagation.

The most simple and widely utilized approach is vegetative propagation. Division, back bulbs, keikis, aerial cuttings, and tissue culture are five methods for vegetative propagation. Plants are divided into two or more portions, each with at least one new shoot, to propagate through division. This is one of the most basic ways to grow more plants of the same variety or species. Splitting a plant encourages it to develop more high-quality, vigorous branches. At least three back bulbs and one new growth should be present in each division. The optimal time to divide plants is in the early spring, just as new growth begins so that each division has enough time to establish itself before flowering the following season.

 Back bulb propagation is a method of creating a new plant from previously flowered or unflowered back pseudobulbs that are normally leafless. Plants cultivated this way can take 2 to 3 years or longer to achieve flowering size. During the repotting process, older back bulbs are removed and placed in growth conditions to stimulate roots. When removing back bulbs, keep in mind that the parent plant, as well as any divisions, should have at least two excellent back bulbs and growth to preserve the parent plant at the flowering size. Dendrobiums and Phalaenopsis orchids produce offshoots along the stem that appear to be little yet distinct plants. Allow these to mature before removing them from the parent plant with care. The young branch, sometimes known as a “keiki,” can be potted up in the same way that a back bulb is. Aerial cuttings are typical on several Dendrobium species. When exposed to severe growing conditions, some Dendrobiums will create tiny plants instead of flower buds. Because the plant is practically completely grown before being plucked from the parent plant, aerial cuttings are relatively easy to take. For high-end trained farmers, modern technology such as tissue culture propagation may be a viable option, allowing for year-round production, less labor, and effective post-harvest management.

Orchid Flowers


For orchid growth at home or for commercial purposes, choosing the right species, growing media, pots, cultivation techniques, and shade house or polyhouse type is critical. Because of the hot and dry climate, orchid cultivation in the region demands extra attention, expertise, and talent.  Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis variants are the most suitable species for the region. They will, however, necessitate shade with high humidity of 60-80%. Tree bark, charcoal, and rice hull/husk make excellent growing media. Although bark and charcoal are widely utilized, rice hull/husk can help to prevent fungal or mold infection in the growing medium. Rice hulls provide for better drainage and less water retention. Rice hulls are also less expensive and less difficult to come by than coconut husk. Orchids can be grown in perforated six and eight-inch earthen pots. Aeration and hanging of aerial roots for absorption of moisture from the air will be aided by one-inch diameter side holes/perforations. There are two types of shade houses: doom-shaped and flat-roofed. The height of the doomed house should be at least 9 meters, and the width of the house will be determined by the number of seats that will be built to hold the orchid pots. Benches made of iron, bamboo, or wood should be 3 feet from the ground. Flat-roofed shade houses are low maintenance and simple to construct. To achieve appropriate ventilation, a net (75 percent) with a width of 4 meters is employed, consisting of two levels of roofs, one taller (1-2 ft) than the other. The net is spread out using concrete poles with wire strings. To give water and maintain humidity, the houses should be equipped with mist or overhead sprinklers.


Orchids in their natural habitat scavenge nutrients from decomposing leaves, bird or animal droppings, or minerals carried in precipitation. If you’re growing orchids in a shade net or a greenhouse, you’ll need to feed them often and use the appropriate fertilizers to help them grow quicker and blossom sooner. Fertilizers for orchids should include nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), as well as trace metals like iron. Potassium (K) is primarily involved in floral and fruit growth. Nitrogen (N) for healthy vegetative growth and Phosphorous (P) for floral formation. The amount of feeding is determined by the type of plant, the time of year, and the plant’s overall health. NPK 30:10:10 is the best fertilizer for orchid growth, whereas NPK 10:30:30 is the best fertilizer for flowering, with traces of iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, and molybdenum. Once every 7 to 10 days, fertilizer should be sprinkled in the morning. Fertilizer should not be applied when there is a lot of rain. It should also never be used in conjunction with pesticides or fungicides.

Pests & Diseases Control

Pests are the most common concern, causing damage to plant parts and, in certain cases, plant death. Mealybugs, Thrips, Spider mites, Aphids, Cockroaches, and grasshoppers are some of the most common pests. Insecticides can readily be used to manage these insects. Insecticides can be sprayed on the plants once every 7 to 10 days between 4 and 5 p.m. on a sunny day to protect them against these pests. Leaf rot, mildew, botrytis, and a variety of other infections can all affect orchids. Bacterial soft and brown rot is a disease that causes little water-soaked areas on leaves that are sometimes encircled by yellow halos. If left unchecked, the infection will quickly destroy the leaves and roots before spreading to the rhizomes or pseudobulbs. This wet rot has a bad odor and a moist appearance. Another disease is bacterial brown spot, which affects leaves as a tiny, squishy, water-soaked blister. The infected patch becomes larger, coalesces, and eventually appears brown or black, dried out, and sunken. It leaks bacteria-laden fluids, especially when the sickness has progressed to the leaf’s tip. It is particularly common in the summer. Infected tissue can be removed and bactericides sprayed to treat both diseases.

Threats to Orchids

Orchids are the most threatened flowering plant species on the planet. Orchid species are in peril due to a variety of factors such as overexploitation, illegal trading, land encroachment, and climate change. Habitat erosion, degradation, fragmentation, and illegal collection for commerce and consumption are all threatening medicinal orchids. The majority of these species are classified as highly endangered or rare. Some species, such as Liparis olivacea, have already gone extinct in the wild. The demand for medical orchids outnumbers the supply.

Collection and sale of wild orchids from orchid-rich areas, particularly by rural communities, is a common occurrence; uprooting the entire plant causes the extinction of many species, and provides a large number of such orchids to local and international traders is a common occurrence. The destruction of several economically important plants in alpine meadows has continued as a result of various levels of disturbance, such as the removal of Dactylorhiza hatagirea, a highly valued medicinal orchid from its natural population in the Himalayas, which has been classified as critically endangered. The demand for traditional medicine in Western countries is growing as a result of the recent trend of adopting it.

Question: what are the different types of Orchids in India?

ANS: India is home to some of the most diverse orchid ecosystems on the planet. About 2500 species in 167 genera may be found in India. Because of their therapeutic benefits, various orchids in India, such as Eulophia campestris, Orchis latifolia, and Vanda roxburgii, have attracted the interest of scientists. Calanthe, Coelogyne, Cymbidium, Cypipedium, Dendrobium, Ephemerantha, Eria, Galeola, Gastrodia, Gymnadenia, Habenaria, Ludisia, Luisia, Nevilia, and Thunia are some of the most common genera for medicinal orchids. Alkaloids, flavonoids, and other constituents of orchids have therapeutic benefits.

Question: What do you think the most important character in Orchids is?

ANS: The integration of the stamens (all male reproductive parts—anthers and filaments) and the pistil (all-female reproductive parts— stigma, style, and ovary) in the flower is a unique phenomenon that has evolved in orchids. As a result of the reduction in stamen number, orchid groups with just three, two, or one stamen have emerged (s). More than 99 percent of all orchid species contain only one stamen in the flower, which is a common feature of the Orchidaceae family.

Question: How Orchids Are Pollinated?

ANS: Diverse vertebrate and invertebrate groups pollinate Orchidaceae flowers. Orchid pollinators include bees and wasps (order Hymenoptera), as well as insects from the orders Lepidoptera, Diptera, Coleoptera, and others.

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