Are you thinking of buying an orchid? Some of them are very cheap, but some can be amazingly pricey. A few of these plants are rare and a major challenge to cultivate, which drives up the price.
A standard orchid that you might see in a store or garden center will often cost around $10-$15, and rarely more than this. One of the rarer varieties could cost you as much as $100, depending on the size and type of plant. Some rare orchids that are not available commercially may cost thousands.
Factors That Affect Cost
The biggest factor that affects the cost is usually the type of orchid that you want to buy. The rarest varieties are far more expensive than a common kind. However, plenty of other factors add to the price tag too.
Firstly, the challenge of caring for the orchid makes a big difference. An orchid that is difficult to grow will cost more than an easier one because so much more labor goes into growing it, and so few plants survive (comparatively speaking).
A challenging variety will also require more expertise, which bumps the price up considerably. It may need more specialist equipment, more resources, more careful handling, and more time – and those things all come at a cost.
Another important thing is the health and size of the plant. Purchasing an orchid that is in full bloom will cost more than purchasing an orchid that is just rooted or at an early stage of its growth. The plant is more likely to survive when it is well established.
Bear in mind as you read the list that although this is an estimate of how much you are likely to pay for these orchids, prices will vary a lot depending upon your location. If a certain type of orchid is common in your area, you are much more likely to be able to get a cheap specimen than if that orchid is unusual.
Having a nursery that sells many orchids increases your chances of being able to get one for a reasonable price. If you have to order an orchid in, you will immediately be looking at higher costs.
1 – Phalaenopsis
If you just pick up an orchid in a store, a Phalaenopsis is probably what you will end up with. Its common name is “moth orchid,” and it is one of the easiest varieties to grow and care for. This means that it is much cheaper to buy, and you may get one for as little as $10-$15. At most, you should pay around $50 for one.
This will depend on your location and how readily available these plants are, as well as how large the specimen is, but in general, moth orchids are the least expensive of the family. They are also the most likely to survive if you are inexperienced in orchid care because they are less fussy than some family members.
Phalaenopsis orchids can be bought in various colors, but they are usually quite pale. Their blooms may be pure white, or they may have mottled, patterned petals. They usually flower in the late winter, making them a wonderful way to brighten up your home during the cold, dark months.
To get a Phalaenopsis to flower, you may have to subject it to temperatures of around 60 degrees F, or it may not realize that it is fall or winter. It will not flower if this occurs, so make sure you can provide cool conditions at least for a while if you want blossoms every year.
Phalaenopsis orchids are much-loved for their elegance and exotic beauty, and they are certainly a wonderful flower to grow in your home. With the additional bonus of being reasonably easy to look after, it’s unsurprising that these plants are the commonest variety available in stores.
It is worth being aware that Phalaenopsis orchids are sometimes dyed. Because their petals are pale, adding colored dye to the water will affect the color of the flowers. Extraordinary color variations can be achieved in this way, and you may find bright pink, blue, teal, and purple varieties.
There is nothing wrong with purchasing a dyed orchid, but you should be aware that this is not its true color and you will need to add dye yourself if you want it to keep producing colored blooms. You may pay more for a dyed orchid because it looks so striking.
2 – Miltonia
This variety is made up of around twelve different species, so you are likely to find price variations between them, but in general, they are the next most expensive orchid. If you buy a four inch pot, you will probably pay between $10-$35.
In some areas, costs are much higher, as these orchids are less readily available. If you have to order one in especially, a nursery or garden center may charge you as much as $110 for your plant. If you find one in a store, it is likely to cost less than this.
Miltonia orchids are popular and produce a particularly attractive scent that is said to be something like the scent of a rose. You are probably familiar with these orchids, which have star-shaped blossoms in striking colors.
These plants come from Paraguay, Peru, Brazil, and Argentina, and they are one of the varieties that is reasonably tolerant of cold, meaning they are great to grow if you live in a northern part of the world.
They are sometimes known as pansy orchids, and they like medium, indirect light. If they don’t get enough light, they will struggle to flower.
The amount of water that is needed depends on the stage of growth your orchid has reached. A dormant Miltonia needs very little water, whereas one that is in full bloom may need watering every week.
Miltonia orchids can be bought in a wide range of colors, including reds, whites, pinks, purples, and yellows. They tend to have delicate mottling on the flowers, making them extremely striking plants, although some have just one or two bold splashes of color.
3 – Cycnodes Wine Delight
If you are a fan of red orchids, be aware that you can get a Cycnodes Wine Delight for around $33 for a four inch pot. This plant – as the name suggests – produces flowers that are a deep, rich red in color. They may vary in hue slightly, but they are usually the color of wine, and the petals are uniform, rather than displaying mottling.
With a lighter spathe in the center and glossy foliage, the Cycnodes Wine Delight variety is a very beautiful orchid that attracts many dedicated growers. It is a hybrid species, so you may have to find plants that have been bred from it, but these should be available.
You will likely find that you need to order it online, rather than in a store because it is a fairly unusual option. However, it has some advantages, such as its deliciously rich, cherry-like scent. It is also very easy to care for, which adds to its appeal, especially for growers who are just beginning.
It is best to look for this orchid at the beginning of its growing season (spring to early summer) because as the plants grow and get larger, it becomes harder to ship them successfully. Many stockists only carry them when the plants are young, rather than trying to ship mature, expensive plants.
If you want one of these, try to wait until the beginning of the growing season, and then look online to see if you can source one. There is no doubt that these orchids are striking, but you are fairly unlikely to see one in a store or garden center, as they are quite unusual.
4 – Brassavola
Brassavola orchids are another beautiful species, which has amazing flowers that are shaped like hearts. These tend to be pure white and they are grown on delicate, flowing stems. The flower has a spray of green tendrils behind it, which look as though they are displaying the orchid.
There are other varieties, such as the Brassavola Jairak Canary, which has bright yellow flowers. Depending on the availability in your local area, you might pay around $40 for a four inch pot.
These plants like to be kept between 60 and 65 degrees F, and they like humidity levels to be between forty and seventy percent. They prefer to be kept well-watered during their growth cycles, with a reduction in watering when they turn dormant.
You should provide your Brassavola orchid with plenty of indirect light and fertilize it every two weeks during its growth period.
Brassavola orchids tend to be popular because they are frequent and generous bloomers. Where some orchids only produce one or two large, vibrant blooms, a Brassavola orchid produces multiple flushes of them.
It can also flower more than once a year, and unlike many orchids, it will flower at any time. It does tend to have larger and heavier flowers during the winter, which is when many orchids flower, but you can enjoy its blossoms during any season.
They do not tend to be as dramatic or large as the flowers of a Phalaenopsis orchid or a Cattleya orchid (which we will cover shortly), but they are more numerous.
A Brassavola is not the kind of plant most people think of when they think of orchids, but they are extremely attractive and showy specimens, and a perfect choice if you want froths of creamy white beauty in your home.
It is also known as “lady of the night,” and there are many beautiful hybrids under this name, including Brassavola cucullata, which has long, slim leaves and is sometimes called a “daddy long legs orchid.” You can also purchase Brassavola grandiflora, which has larger flowers, and a Brassavola cordata, which has smaller ones.
5 – Cattleya
Cattleya orchids do tend to be a bit more expensive, and you could pay up to $100 for one, depending on the plant’s size and your location. Some retail for as little as $25, however, so they are still an affordable option if you choose carefully. This is based on a plant in a six inch pot.
On the whole, this is another reasonably sturdy orchid that will tolerate mediocre care. It can bloom for over a month when in flower, giving you plenty of time to enjoy its blossoms. It will survive temperature fluctuations and is less fussy about being kept warm than the more delicate orchid varieties.
Like all orchids, it does prefer to be in a humid environment, preferably with humidity levels between forty and seventy percent. You can use a humidity tray to keep your plant damp, or you can mist the surface of the orchid bark every day or so.
You can also use a humidifier if you have one, and if you own lots of orchids, that may be a more attractive option. For just one or two plants, light misting with a hand sprayer will suffice.
Because Cattleya is easy to care for, they are another famous orchid, and they don’t disappoint in terms of color and display. Their flowers are big, showy, and bright.
They are usually pale lavender, white, or white and bright pink, but there are also yellow and red varieties and breathtaking orange ones. The color variations also make these orchids popular, and they have a heavy, beautiful scent to match the stunning colors.
A mature Cattleya orchid can reach about two feet tall. It takes up to seven years to grow one of these plants from seed, which is why they can command higher prices than the Phalaenopsis orchid. Phalaenopsis orchids generally take three years or longer.
6 – Oncidium
If you prefer orchids that have patterned blooms and showy colors, an Oncidium may be perfect for you. This plant grows striking, beautiful flowers that look rather like butterflies taking flight. They are also known as “dancing orchid dolls” or “dancing ladies,” because of the attractive patterning.
Some have plainer flowers, but they are all brightly colored and striking. The flower petals are often elongated and thinner than in the Phalaenopsis orchid.
The cost will vary, depending on the variety and your location, but you may be able to purchase a four inch pot for around $40-$50. The more striking varieties are likely to cost more, and even smaller options may be expensive.
Oncidium orchids like to be warm during the day and cooler at night. They prefer temperatures between 80 and 85 degrees F, dropping down to about 60 or 65 degrees F after dark. They can tolerate high temperatures for short periods, but anything above 100 degrees F will probably kill them.
This orchid likes plenty of filtered, bright light. Do not place it directly on a windowsill without a screen, but do make sure it isn’t in the dark. It will not flower if it doesn’t get enough light, and its foliage will become thick and heavy.
7 – Masdevallia
A Masdevallia orchid will probably cost you around $50 for a small pot a couple of inches across. Some varieties sell for a bit less, and some for around $100 or more, so this is often the “next step” in the price bracket, depending on your location.
Masdevallia orchids are not fond of too much light. They like to be grown facing the east or north, and they will become pale and yellow if the light is too strong for them. On the other hand, too little light leads to dark foliage and no flowers, so it’s important to position your plant carefully.
These plants flower in the summer, which is slightly unusual for an orchid. They also have unusually shaped blossoms, which are triangular rather than rounded. They lead to a spike at the top of the flower, and then two elongated spikes at the bottom.
They are certainly a striking flower to look at, and great if you want a bit of a change from the standard orchids. However, they are often considered a more challenging species.
This is reflected in the slightly increased price and the rarity of the plants. They need temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees F in the day and as low as 55 to 60 degrees F at night. This makes them suitable for growing in cooler climates, but you will need to be careful they don’t get too hot in a heated home.
They also like plenty of humidity, so many people choose to grow them in bathrooms, or alongside electric humidifiers. If you are not yet very experienced with growing orchids, it is best to choose an easier variety first.
The Masdevallia will not tolerate improper care, so get a bit of practice before you try to grow one of these plants.
8 – Dendrophylax Lindenii
Also known as the “ghost orchid,” the Dendrophylax lindenii is a breathtaking specimen that comes from Cuba and Florida. It is protected in many parts of the world, and it is among the rarest of orchids.
Because it is so hard to get it to grow in a home, the plants tend to be sold as seedlings, and they are only for the most experienced growers. The price will depend heavily on how many roots the seedling has, and how high the demand is at the time. Stocks sell out very quickly.
In general, if you want to purchase a plant, you will have to purchase a seedling or a small plant. This will likely cost you over $100, plus shipping, assuming you can find a seller.
Ghost orchids are not easy to care for, and most specimens taken from the wild die within a year. If you are an experienced orchid grower, you may wish to consider owning one of these tender flowers.
However, you should be very cautious about your purchase, because the ghost orchid commands steep prices on the black market, and this fuels illegal trade in a highly endangered plant. It is best to purchase seeds or a seedling so that you know you are not contributing to these issues.
9 – Paphiopedilum Rothschildianum
This is one of the most expensive flowers in the world and could cost you around $5000 to buy on the black market. It was driven almost to extinction by orchid smuggling in the 1980s and 1990s, and has only been saved by reintroducing cultivated seedlings into the wild.
It takes a very long time to grow, which contributes to its cost. A seedling may not mature enough to flower for many years – sometimes as many as fifteen. This drives the price up because it is also difficult to care for.
In the wild, these plants are only found in a national park in Malaysia, and they are sometimes known as the Gold of Kinabalu or Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid. They have unusual, horizontal petals and they are much sought-after.
10 – Shenzhen Nongke Orchid
If you looked up the most expensive flower ever bought, you would find the Shenzhen Nongke orchid. It is a manmade cultivar that does not exist in the wild, and it took eight years to be developed.
When it was sold, it fetched around $200,000 at auction. It was created by the Shenzhen Nongke Group, an agricultural research corporation.
As you will have noted, orchids range massively in cost. They can be as little as $10 from your local store, or cost hundreds of thousands at auctions. This variation reflects the challenges of growing the different species, the availability, and the trading restrictions imposed upon them.
If you are thinking of getting into growing orchids, choose easy and cheap varieties to start with. Even the most basic orchids can be challenging, so don’t launch into an expensive, difficult variety straight away.