The Orchid Care Glossary

Orchid Care Glossary
There are many specialized terms all orchid growers need to know. This lingo is not difficult to memorize and it will help you understand information and professional advice better. Orchids are among the most popular houseplants so it's not surprising that more and more owners wish to learn more about them. Familiarizing yourself with professional lingo is a step into the right direction.

Popular Terms

Here is a list of the most popular terms all orchid growers need to know:

1. Inflorescence

This is the flowering part of a plant.

2. Node

Node is a distinct joint or notch on the inflorescence from which a secondary flower stem can emerge from. It happens after the primary inflorescence has finished blooming.

3. Keiki

Keiki is a small plant growing from a node on the flower stem.

Flower Parts

The most important parts of an orchid's flower:

4. Column

It is a small, rounded and column-like extension between the two largest petals on a flower. This is actually the central reproductive organ of the orchid.

5. Lip

Lip is the part of the flower almost completely divided from the rest of the flower. It is connected by the column. Orchids have very unique lips, and it's one of the things that make their flowers so beautiful. The lip is actually a very specialized organ and its role is to aid in pollination.

6. Throat

This is the inner portion of a tubular orchid lip. In many cases throat is very colorful.

7. Sepals

The outer segments of an orchid flower. They are similar to petals but they make three smaller segments of the flower. Sepals create a triangular shape.


Spike is a flower stalk.


General gardening terms often used for orchid care:

8. Medium

This is not orchid-specific. Medium is the material added to a container. It can range from soil to bark. There are many mediums available for your plants (in this case, orchids).

9. Yellowing

This is a common gardening term. It is used when a leaf is yellowing. This usually indicates some issues, such as overwatering or an inadequate amount of light. If you notice yellowing on orchid leaves it's important to inspect your plant or consult a professional about what to do to make it healthy again.

Photo credit: Pauline Rosenberg

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