Orchids are prized for their ornamental value in addition to being rich in symbolic meaning. They also offer all sorts of uses and benefits you might not have been aware of. In this article, we’ll explore everything these tropical treats have to offer supported by leading research studies from around the world.
About Orchid Plants
The orchids that we know and love come from a vast family of approximately 28,000 plants – the Orchidaceae. This group is so large that it contains about 800 different types of orchids. Many of these plants are indigenous to tropical rainforests, but orchids can also grow in temperate areas.
Orchids can be terrestrial plants or epiphytes. The latter means that they latch onto other plants as growth supports. Every orchid is a perennial plant, meaning they regrow year after year. Epiphytic species are more common in tropical regions, while terrestrial orchids usually grow in temperate climates.
Orchids are most famous for their incredible flowers. Many species have symmetrical petals with vibrant colors and intricate patterns. Some of the more beautiful widespread species include moth orchids (the Phalaenopsis genus), Vanda orchids, Jewel Orchids, Lady’s Slipper Orchids, and Monkey Orchids.
The Benefits of Orchid Plants
1) An Ornamental Beauty
There’s a simple reason why orchids are so popular: they look absolutely stunning. Orchids can create a rainbow of color in your home. Orchids range from brilliant blues and deep purples to vibrant oranges and ravishing reds. You can also get orchids with beautiful white or potent pink blooms.
Orchids can provide a boisterous burst of color to any room, particularly kitchens or bathrooms. These humid areas suit most orchids pretty well. Few species make more dramatic ornamental statements than orchids when it comes to decorative plants.
The size of orchid blooms typically depends on the specific species. Vanda orchids, for example, have large, bold flowers. Meanwhile, pansy orchids (Miltonia) can produce compact bunches of petals to create a different statement.
2) Orchids Can Purify the Air
We all know that plants absorb carbon dioxide in the air and then release the oxygen that we breathe. But this process has another benefit – it removes harmful chemicals from the air.
In 1989, NASA produced its now-famous Clean Air Study. This research tested the ability of plants to purify the air inside our homes. Our modern world is full of hidden dangers lurking inside our carpets, paint, and other products. These are VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds.
Many VOCs have been linked to various health conditions, from asthma to certain cancers. Thankfully, NASA’s work showed that plants could filter out these compounds, improving our defenses.
Some of the best performing plants in the original study were dendrobium orchids. This orchid genus contains approximately 1800 species and prefers cooler conditions. NASA’s team found that dendrobium orchids could remove compounds like formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene from the air.
3) Orchids May Help Us Reduce Stress
We’ve all felt stressed at some point. A poll from the American Psychological Association in October 2021 found that 63% of Americans experienced stress when thinking about the immediate future.
However, flowers like orchids could give us a way of coping with stress. Experts at the University of North Florida conducted an experiment in 2018 with three groups of women. Each group was asked to record their stress levels for 12 days via an online survey.
Six days into the experiment, one group received a delivery of flowers, while another group had a scented candle delivered. The third group did not receive a delivery. The survey results showed the women who received some flowers felt their stress levels drop by 5.5 points.
So, treating yourself to a beautiful orchid could be a great form of stress relief. Sounds like a good excuse to us.
4) Orchids Can Produce a Lovely Scent
Not all orchids can produce strong scents. But some species can give off beautiful aromas that brighten your home and mood. Some moth orchids can generate delicate scents, while cattleya orchids are well-known for their citrus-like fragrances.
In 2009, Japanese scientists evaluated how a plant’s scent can affect our mood using lab rats. The researchers found that the smell of citrus or lavender plants can alter blood chemistry in subjects. When this response was triggered, stress levels dropped.
The scientists identified a specific chemical compound in the plants as the catalyst – linalool. When rats were exposed to linalool, the scientists found that 109 stress-response genes were not as active. So, stopping to smell your orchids may actually reduce your stress levels.
5) Orchid Plants Could Aid with Sleep
The scintillating scents produced by orchids could have another beneficial effect – helping us get some shuteye. A 2019 study conducted by Chinese scientists looked at whether plants could help astronauts sleep while in space.
The results of the study showed that when astronauts could see or smell a nearby plant, they exhibited less stress. Their central nervous systems also appeared to be regulated better. Strawberries were noted as the most effective plant due to their scent.
Another study, conducted by a Japanese team using yuzu fruit essential oil, yielded similar results. After smelling the fruit’s fragrance, subjects demonstrated lower heart rates. This could be replicated with the citrus-like fragrance of cattleya orchids.
If that’s not a good excuse to have a stunning orchid in your bedroom, then we don’t know what is.
6) Orchids May Be Brilliant for Feng Shui
In feng shui, flowers and plants can have potent symbolism. According to feng shui practices, orchids can represent beauty, fertility, and purity. Many types of flowers also symbolize joy and new beginnings.
Within the Bagua map, specific colors can also have meaning in feng shui. For example, yellow is associated with marriage and relationships, while green represents prosperity and wealth. Because orchids can be found in a wide range of vibrant colors, they make excellent feng shui plants.
Placing different colored orchids around your home could help you maximize your positive chi. Orchids are also believed to be a symbol of good fortune, making them a good choice for the office.
7) Orchid Plants Might Help Increase Productivity
A spartan, soulless work environment can sap your productivity. But plants like orchids can be a small way of bringing some life back into your work.
A 2014 study of office workplaces in the Netherlands and the UK show evidence of this. Productivity levels were evaluated in two stages. During the first stage, plants were placed in the office. In the second stage, the plants were removed.
The results indicated that productivity among the workers increased by 15% when plants were in the office. The experiment was performed in three locations between the two countries. The findings also indicated that participants were more satisfied at work.
8) Orchids Are Low-Maintenance Plants
The prevailing opinion is that orchids are fussy flowers. However, most species are actually pretty easy to accommodate and should remain largely free of bugs, pests, and diseases. In fact, many orchids can be good plants for less-experienced plant lovers because they’re easy to care for.
Orchids don’t need a lot of water, so they can tolerate a bit of neglect. And because there are so many species, these fabulous flowers are also highly adaptable and will often rebloom. You can find orchids that like varying humidity conditions and temperatures to suit any home.
Dendrobium orchids prefer colder climates, while cattleyas like medium temperatures and Vanda orchids need hotter conditions. You won’t need to prune or repot orchids much either, as they like to be a bit restricted in their potting vessels. Aim to fertilize your orchid plants monthly during the active growing season. With proper care, orchids can live for many years to come.
9) Orchid Plants Thrive in Various Light Levels
A lot of houseplants can be fussy about lighting. This can make it challenging to choose the right plants for your home. However, orchids are pretty diverse in their lighting requirements. Different types prefer different amounts of light, so there will always be an orchid to suit your home.
Moth orchids, a common species in the houseplant market, like bright, indirect light. This amount of light suits most orchid species. However, Vanda orchids prefer some direct sunshine during the day to help fuel their big blooms.
When bringing any orchid into your home, always check their label to see the exact conditions that they need and make sure you’re using an appropriate soil mix.
10) Orchid Plants May Help Alleviate Allergies
When plants like orchids filter the air by removing VOCs, they also perform another service. These harmful compounds are often catalysts or triggers for a wide range of common allergies. Asthma is the most obvious one, which can be triggered by chemicals like formaldehyde.
PGEs (propylene glycol ethers) are another type of compound found in our homes that may cause allergies. Studies have shown that these chemicals can increase the risk of children developing conditions like asthma. Like dust and pollen, other materials can also induce asthma attacks or hayfever.
Thankfully, plants like orchids can combat these irritants by filtering them out of the air – helping us lead healthier and happier lives.
11) Orchids Can Help Raise Humidity
Humidity is also vital for a healthy home. The National Asthma Council for Australia says that humidity levels for most homes should be between 30 and 50%. When orchids absorb water, they release excess moisture through their leaves. This process is called transpiration and can add moisture to the air inside our homes.
Maintaining good levels of humidity helps prevent people from developing conditions like asthma. If we’re exposed to too much dry air, our skin can suffer. A lack of humidity causes conditions and ailments like eczema.
12) Orchids Make Thoughtful Gifts
Orchids can be a beautiful gift – but these gorgeous flowers aren’t just for show. Giving an orchid as a gift can also communicate a meaningful message. This often depends on the color of the orchid.
For example, yellow represents both friendship and new beginnings. So a yellow orchid can be an excellent present for your best friend. Meanwhile, pink orchids are a beautiful symbol of femininity, so they can be a good gift for Mother’s Day.
As low-maintenance plants, orchids make great housewarming presents. Even during the stress of moving in, a new house can feel like a home thanks to an orchid.
Far from being fussy flowers, orchids are an easy way to bring color into your home. These no-fuss plants are easy to care for and can also yield lots of benefits. From purifying the air to reducing stress and helping us sleep, orchids are a spectacularly beautiful way of making our homes more comfortable.
If you’re looking for your next orchid plant for gifting and the home, see our in-depth guide to the best orchid plant delivery services.
For more, see our essential guide to caring for orchids whilst you’re away or on vacation and everything you need to know about orchid plant care after they finish blooming and how to manage orchid plants dropping leaves.