Orchid Care






 Buying Orchids Online Part I

Shop for orchids nationwide from online orchid plant suppliers! With online orchid sales growing, and hundreds of vendors to choose from, the world's your limit! Find out how to find reputable orchid growers and make sure you get the best orchids for your money. 
orchid seedlings

Slipper Orchid seedlings in 2.5"  pots are several years from flowering. Buying young plants is a cheap way to build an orchid collection


What is the difference between seedlings and mericlones?   
You may sometimes see orchids referred to as a 'seedling' or 'seedling  cross' irrespective of size.  What this means that the plant being sold is the progeny of a cross made using two different parents, or simply one parent(selfing).  Often there will be some variation between different seedlings (just as there are among siblings with the same parents). This can be exciting as you will be the first to see the flower, if you buy an unbloomed seedling! Good vendors will often describe the range of possible outcomes or show photos of some of the plants they have bloomed out. Some crosses yield consistently high quality crosses while others are experimental so be sure to ask. Your other option is to buy mericlones. These are tissue cultured plants of specific plants, that are identical to the plant mericloned. Usually only high quality orchids are tissues-cultured or mericloned because they have superior flowers and/or grow and bloom well. Potinara Hoku Gem 'Superspots' is an example of  a mericloned cattleya. All clones of Potinara Hoku Gem (cross), that have the cultivar name 'Super Spots', no matter where you buy them  will be identical to this one.  Mericlones are a great way to build a quality collection of superior orchids.


The simple answer is that the selection of orchids available increases tenfold! Your local garden center or orchid grower (if you're lucky to have one driving distance) may only carry a limited selection of orchids. When you buy orchids online, the sky's the limit. You'll have access to growers across the country. You'll also be able to find plants in bud and have them shipped when you need immediate gratification. The main disadvantage, of course, is that you're unable to see and choose the plants for yourself. However, if you read our tips below, you'll be well equipped to start buying beautiful orchids online.


1. How big are the plants?
There are three main criteria for plant size. These are A) how close the plant is to blooming, B) the pot size and C) the actual plant size. Vendors may use one or more of these systems:

A. Plant Size- the main categories are seedling (S), near blooming size (NBS), blooming size (BS) and previously bloomed (PB). As a general rule BS plants are within a year or so from blooming, NBS plants are 12-18 months from blooming, and seedlings are 2-3 years from blooming. The closer plants are to BS, the bigger they are and the more they cost. Some vendors may have different criteria for each of these sizes so be sure to check. Also, these are general guides and much depends on your green thumb.

B. Pot Size- this can be helpful once you know more about different types of orchids. For example, many mottled -leaf paphs will bloom in a 2.5 to 3" pot so in this case, plant size may be more useful. For slippers this is usually given as the length of the two longest leaves so even an 8" seedling could be quite small.

A compact cattleya will usually be BS in a 4" pot whereas a standard cattleya may only be NBS in the same pot size. If only pot size is indicated, ask the vendor how far the plants are from blooming. Not that some orchids are grown 'mounted'. This means they are on pieces of cork bark or wood, growing epiphytically as the do in nature. Mounted orchids are generally not suitable for windowsill culture.

C. Plant size/leaf span-you often see this with more expensive slipper orchids where the leaf span (length of two longest leaves) is provided rather than pot size. If the plant is a division of another plant, the description may tell you the number of growths/fan or number of bulbs depending on the orchids.

 Cattleya orchid
  Lc Newberry Pixie 'Cherokee' is a compact cattleya
 orchid that can grow on a sunny windowsill.

Go to Part II of this article




 More orchids on our 
 houseplants blog

Quick Links:
-What to do when flowers fade
-Why won't my orchid bloom?
-How to buy orchids like a pro

-Can I grow orchids in low light?
-How do I water my orchids?

-Where can I buy orchids online?

Visit Our Other Sites:

-How to Grow Moth Orchids
-How to Grow Slipper Orchids