Orchids are an amazing, addicting, and very rewarding hobby. They're beautiful, exotic, and oftentimes misunderstood. But once you get into the fascinating world of orchids, it's hard to get out.
With over 24,000 different species, some living over 100 years, it’s hardly surprising that caring for an orchid can be as individual as caring for your own child. Each one is different and has its own preferences and needs. However, when the conditions are right, an orchid will flourish.
Adding a book to your library which details characteristics of your particular orchid and how to look after it, will help you to ensure it blossoms. Apart from being an excellent resource, you may find yourself finding joy in collecting the best orchid books.
Here are our top picks for the best written in this niche.
#1: Understanding Orchids: William Cullina
This informative guide comes in both hardback and Kindle format. It’s worth noting that some of the 300 color photographs are not displayed as nicely in the Kindle edition.
As well as telling you what to look for when buying your first orchid, it has a detailed guide to the 100 most popular orchids. The entries contain information for beginners, experienced orchid growers and experts. Luckily, for those of you just venturing into the world of orchids, there are a good number of suitable entries.
This book tells you which places the plant will thrive best, whether in a window, under artificial lights or in a greenhouse. Clear details are provided on watering, potting and fertilizing, propagating, and pollination.
If you want to identify different types of orchids, then the book covers some classifications, names, and a glossary.
The author is the CEO and President of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. He writes in a lively, engaging manner, which is clear to read.
#2: The Orchid Whisperer: Bruce Rogers
This charming book is written in a language that beginners can understand without needing a degree in horticulture. The author suggests that you buy plants you like and then find somewhere to put them. The more common route followed is deciding what plant is best for which location.
Topics discussed include advice on selecting and buying plants. There is information on temperature and light, repotting, watering and pests. All this is done with the author’s own injected humor making the book easy to read. Many of Rogers’ suggestions follow a “green” ethic, and his optimism in your ability is infectious.
This book could also challenge experienced orchid lovers. There is a chapter dedicated to decorating with orchids. You could unleash your creative side and enhance your home with these diverse plants.
Greg Allikas provides the book with 100 good quality color photographs. Bruce Rogers has a wealth of knowledge to impart. He has been growing and working with orchids since 1970.
#3: Botanica’s Orchids: Encyclopedia
This paperback book is a huge compendium of orchids. It contains detailed descriptions of many orchids, which are well cataloged.
There are over 600 pages, 1200 varieties of orchid and 2,500 color photographs, capturing the beauty of these flowers.
Information includes selecting and planning which orchid might best fit the growing conditions you have. It details feeding and watering them. The comprehensive guide highlights the propagation, color, flowering, and planting.
Also included is information from orchid specialists around the world, to help you cultivate and grow your own plants. The bonus is that the species are listed alphabetically, making it easy to find what you’re looking for.
If there is a downside it would be that this book tends to close if you pop it on a table at an open page, so remember to use a bookmark.
#4: Four Seasons of Orchids: Greg Allikas and Ned Nash
This book differs from many other books: It doesn’t detail individual orchids by species or alphabetically. It looks at orchids by flowering seasons, winter, spring, summer or fall.
The advantage of having a book set out in this way means you can plan to have blooms all year round.
Written by Greg Allikas, a well-known orchid photographer, and Ned Nash, an American Orchid Society judge, there is an abundance of information.
As well as advice on how to cultivate and maintain orchids, there are some superb color photographs. These show this versatile and varied plant in all its glory.
Supplied in a paperback version, this book could be a good gift for a new or seasoned orchid lover. With the abundance of lovely pictures, it would also make a good book for the coffee table.
#5: Complete Guide to Orchids: Ortho Books
This up-to-date book from the Ortho series is a good resource for learning about which orchids are the easiest to grow. It also covers cultivated versions and hybrids. The species it looks at are all available in the USA.
It has clear step-by-step instructions on how to choose, stake, pot and care for these flowering plants. It will help a novice grower gain confidence, and supplies expert advice for the more experienced orchid enthusiasts.
Covering topics such as temperature, humidity, light, diseases, and pests, it could be a go-to book for keeping healthy orchids.
There are 224 information-packed pages in this paperback edition, with many color photographs.
#6: Orchids: An Illustrated Identifier and Guide to Cultivation: Mike Tibbs
If you are new to orchids and need some common sense advice, this could be the book for you. Covering topics such as orchid biology and understanding the basics, it’s a good place to start.
It will give you clear instructions on how to care for your plants. This applies whether you have them in your home, in a greenhouse or under a shade cloth. It could help you become a master at growing from seed, repotting and dividing your flowers.
The book also covers all the major families of orchids and details their characteristics. A good idea when you want to identify what you have. It also encompasses pests and diseases.
The author has written several books on orchids. According to his own website, he has worked for royalty, statesmen, and dignitaries. He has had a love of orchids from an early age and still grows them, as well as giving lectures about them internationally.
#7: The Book of Orchids: Chase, Christenhusz and Mirenda
Containing over 650 pages, this hardcover book details 600 of the worlds many thousands of orchids. It displays them in all their glory, with large photographs showing their botanical details.
It supplies information about the attributes of each unique species, along with some up-to-date science. It will take you around the world, with maps showing where each orchid originates. It also provides all the technical information about each one.
Following an introduction on the history of the plants, which dates back to the time of the dinosaurs, there are some fascinating facts. The lizard orchid is a delicate flower resembling its namesake, a lizard, that smells of goat. Another is the fetid sun god orchid, which gives off a cheese scent, enticing female flies to lay eggs on the flowers.
Written by three respected botanists, the book is sure to please both the newly initiated and the enthusiast.
#8: Miniature Orchids and How to Grow Them: Rebecca Tyson Northern
Orchids can be incredibly large, as seen in this video of a Tiger Orchid, which takes several men to lift and position. On the other hand, they can be as small as a thimble.
Biologist Rebecca Tyson Northern writes this guide. It encompasses the basic needs and other characteristics of hundreds of orchid species. Her experience comes from cultivating these varied plants for over 40 years. She has traveled to Central and South America studying and collecting these flowers.
The author belongs to several orchid societies. She also writes magazine articles about these magnificent blooms.
Packed with useful information, this book is a must for those of you who appreciate the smaller things in life.
#9: Miniature Orchids: Stephen Frowine
This offering is a revised Kindle edition of a book that is currently out of print. It deals with orchids that grow no taller than 12 inches, and some that are a mere inch or two tall.
The author details over 300 of these tiny, but perfect, blossoms. You can expect to learn about the plant's origin, whether it’s hybrid or grows in the wild.
Other details provided include information about the flowers, their habits, and full-grown size. It looks at how much light they need and what temperature they like. You will also find out about the best potting materials.
The book looks at the orchid’s history and gives you some tips to help you grow them successfully. There are also plenty of photographs enabling you to identify the orchids. This means you can select those which will enhance your existing collection.
#10: The Cattleyas and Their Relatives, Vol. 1: Carl L Withner
Cattleyas are a genus of orchid native to Southern America. There are thought to be about 46 species and a further 35 hybrids of this very showy flower. They are sometimes called the “Queen of the Orchids”.
The author has shared a passion for these flowers for over 60 years and he has written six books about them. This first volume in the series allocates a section to each species, along with detailed illustrations or photographs.
Comprising 147 pages, this detailed book provides a short history about how each of these orchids was named or found. It’s suitable for beginners and experts alike.
As a coffee table book, it’s sure to be a talking point among family and friends.
#11: The New Encyclopedia of Orchids: 1500 Species in Cultivation: Isabel la Croix
The Washington Post described this as “The most definitive and well-researched textbook about orchids in more than 40 years”. Lavish, spectacular photographs and expert content make this the ultimate orchard coffee table book.
#12: Moth Orchid Mastery: Raffaele Di Lallo
This is a Kindle eBook that provides easy to understand directions how to get moth orchids to grow and flower time and again. The author is so sure that his methods and advice work, that you can contact him after reading the book and he will answer any questions you have.
This book doesn’t contain any photographs but it does have lots of good information. The topics covered include buying your first orchid, watering, lighting, temperature, and humidity. Further details can be found for fertilizing, repotting, flowering and pests.
It promises a new confidence in your abilities to cultivate these orchids, even if you don’t have green fingers.
The book contains links to the author's website which illustrates some of his concepts in a visual way, giving you a further point of reference. The conversational style in which this book is written is appreciated by readers.
#13: The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Illustrated Dictionary of Orchid Genera: Peggy Alrich
Depending on which source you rely on, there appears to be between 17,000 and 35,000 species of orchids. Whichever way you look at it, they are one of the biggest plant families.
This book has tried to find and give a brief description of all the orchid genera found in books and literature up to the year 2007. They even include those identified from fossils.
Each entry gives an overview of the genus which describes their anatomy, biology, and physiology. The notes detail variations and misspelling of names, as well as the number of species within the genus. There is also a brief summary of the group.
At 512 pages, with plenty of thumbnail size photographs, this could be a good addition to your gardening library. It’s basically a dictionary of orchids.
#14: Growing Orchids Like A Pro: Joan E Hixon
This Kindle book gives you a guide on growing orchids outdoors and indoors, and instructions on how to care for them. In doing so, you could get your plants to bloom for many years.
The author shares her own experiences and tips she has picked up in five years of successfully growing her orchid collection. Her ethos is that orchids are not difficult to care for, but are unique. Each needs to be treated in a way that will allow it to thrive.
The kind of topics covered include choosing the right orchid for you, and secrets from orchid experts. There are details on lighting, watering, humidity and fertilizing.
There are also many tips on things you shouldn’t do, and how to protect your orchid from disease and pests. There are even details of common mistakes people make when caring for these splendid blooms.
Some find this book too simple, while others love the basic instructions, hints and tips. Photographs are absent from the Kindle version.
#15: Orchid: A Cultural History: Jim Endersby
Experience a book about orchids with a difference. It concentrates on the history of the exotic flower, and deals with both fact and fiction. The author is a professor of the history of science at the University of Sussex in the UK. He examines the hold orchids have had over many cultures, dating back several centuries.
This book is not just for orchid enthusiasts, it will appeal to many others interested in the web that orchids have weaved. It looks at the role of an orchid as an aphrodisiac or a symbol of cunning and decadence. There are references to Darwin's theory of evolution and to an association with seduction and romance.
These plants continue to enthrall many. They appear in poetry, films, plays, and novels from modern day thrillers and science fiction, right back to William Shakespeare.
Illustrated from a collection held at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, this book won’t teach you how to cultivate and look after orchids. What it will do is tell you how they were thought to cure venereal disease, or determine the sex of your child. Orchids still grip the imagination of many to this day.
#16: Better Homes and Gardens Orchid Gardening: Ellen Zachos
The iconic Better Homes and Gardens brand brings us this book on orchids. Suitable for any level of orchid grower, it gives simple instructions for keeping these gorgeous plants. It shows how anyone can achieve success every time.
There are checklists, colorful diagrams, and projects, with easy-to-follow details and directions. It makes planning and shopping easy, enabling you to buy and maintain a collection of these unique flowers.
It gives you ideas for plant pairings and design. A glossary of terminology is included, as well as tips on how to select the best orchids for your personal situation and region.
Described are over 200 varieties of this lovely plant, accompanied by over 525 color photographs. The guide is comprehensive and will suit all skill levels, from novices to experts.