Anatomy of a Flower: Orchid

In season year-round

Here’s why this hothouse bloom is the coolest flower at your wedding.

Is there a sexier bloom to explore than the anatomy of an orchid? Before painter Georgia O’Keeffe painted her series of sensual renditions in the 1940s, the Ancient Greeks coined the term “orchid” that translates into the, er, anatomically correct shape of their roots.

The orchidaceae family, though deemed precious because they may bloom just once a year, is also ubiquitous. They grow in every type of environment on earth (except glaciers) but thrive best in Asia and in South and Central America. There are more than 25,000 species, making it one of the largest families of flowering blooms.  (That’s more than twice the number of bird species on earth and four times the number of mammals.) Is it any wonder then that Charles Darwin examined orchids in his 1862 book Fertilisation of Orchids to help him develop his theories of evolution?

DIY brides seeking chic, sophisticated wedding flowers with clean lines should consider orchids. Their shape is modern and sculptural, consisting of simple, sturdy, waxy petals on a bare stem. They come in vibrant hues, from sunshine yellow to lipstick red to even steel black. They’re also exceptionally hardy blooms (ideal for boutonnieres, for example) that can stay looking fresh for hours.

The cost of having orchids in your wedding can range from as little as $1.50 a bloom to a whopping $23 a bloom, according to the bulk online flower source, that specializes in wedding supplies. The price range varies widely based on the variety of orchid you choose as well as the season, your location and your source.

There are about a dozen kinds of orchids that are more popular for weddings:

  • Phalaenopsis are deemed the classic orchid shape and thus not deemed the most unique for a wedding.
  • Lady Slippers tend to be the most expensive with their sensual pouches and moccasin shape.
  • Dendrobium and cymbidium look very similar with their lipped centers to the average person’s eye. So, if you’re on a budget go for the dendrobium, recommends floral designer Grymes Cannon.
  • Mokara are distinctive for their starfish-shaped blooms. Phalaenopsis stand out with their large rounded petals. Vanda is prized because of its range of showstopper colors.

Finally, orchids blend nicely with a variety of other flowers for arrangements in centerpieces or floral bouquets. They mix well accenting clusters of garden roses, jasmine, hyacinths, sweet peas, brazilia, gloriosa lilies, parrot tulips, gardenias and peonies.


In season: Spring and summer are best but with more than 25,000 species, they’re available year-round.

Price: $-$$$  The price ranges widely depending on which varietal you choose, the season and where you purchase the flowers. For example:

  • White Dendrobium blooms will cost anywhere from $0.20 to $0.65 each.
  • Yellow Mokara blooms will cost anywhere from $0.43 to $0.50 each.
  • Green Cymbidium blooms will cost anywhere from $2.70 to $3.15 each.
  • Purple Phalaenopsis blooms will cost anywhere from $5.40 to $5.70 each.
  • Blue Vanda blooms will cost anywhere from $1.70 to $10.65 each.
  • Lavender Cattleya blooms will cost around $16.00 each.
  • Green Lady Slipper blooms will cost around $23.00 each.


  • Cattleya: lavenders, whites with darker colored lips like yellow
  • Cymbidium: white, lime green or yellow petals with various hued lips from hot pink, yellow, to burgundy spotted or brown, petals of blue, steel-black, bronze, sherbet orange, honeysuckle pink, bubble-gum pink, burgundy, orange pin-stripes and apricot.
  • Dendrobium: tie-dye blues, burgundy black, jade green, golden yellow, apricot, violet, true white, blush, sakura pink, orange speckled and purple
  • Lady Slippers: lime green, burgundy and tricolor
  • Mokara: yellows, gold-orange, ruby red, pink strawberry, mauve, speckled violet, and dark blue-purple
  • Phalaenopsis: lavender, blush, purple or white
  • Vanda: hot pink, coral orange, royal blue, pink, speckled watermelon or pink, violet, cherry pink, fuchsia, black magic, orange, red and white

--Erinn Bucklan

Tags: Orchid , Flowers
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