There is no doubt that orchids are the most colourful of all houseplants. The range available is scintillating, and you’ll find one to fit whatever colour scheme you favour. With their differing growing needs, there’s an orchid to suit every home. I have long been a fan, and follow the breeding and development of orchids closely. Most recently, fragrant orchids have been getting more attention, and rightly so. Although I’m also partial to a jewel orchid or two, they certainly jazz up a terrarium!
Listen to Michael Perry talk about orchids on the BBC Gardeners' World Podcast
Phalaenopsis 'Asian Coral'
In a totally different class to the Phalaenopsis sold in trays of mixed colours in the local DIY store, ‘Asian Coral’ is sold with a name, and represents a premium variety that’s well worth the investment. The colour is hard to describe; like a blend of maroon and soft raspberry. The plants are tall and statuesque, and are really fun to use for a spot of interior design.
Macodes petola, or the jewel orchid, lives up to its name with electrifying foliage. In the wild, you’ll find it on the shady forest floor, in the home, you’re best advised to house it in a terrarium. The plants prefer a light, airy and moisture retentive soil mix, and the humid environment of the mini greenhouse will be ideal. I have a plant at home, and it survives perfectly well despite my busy lifestyle.
Phalaenopsis 'Violet Queen'
'Violet Queen' is a miniature moth orchid, one of a few that'll fit in a large terrarium, and proves that orchids can be cute too. The violet-purple shade of the flowers is super unique, and is set off perfectly against the waxy, fresh green leaves. I'm tempted to experiment with a naturalistic planting for 'Violet Queen', perhaps wiring to a piece of driftwood, hugged by a bit of sphagnum moss.
Zygopetalum 'Trozy Blue'
For me, this is the perfect ‘cheat orchid’. It looks amazingly exotic and complex to grow, but it’s actually one of the easiest! Zygopetalum offer intriguing, whiskered flowers, with the most awesome colour palette of purple, green and brown. Ironically, this colour scheme is to keep it camouflaged in the jungle, yet in the home, it does quite the opposite. It will only need careful watering, indirect light, and an occasional feeding.
Paphiopedilum 'Paphiopedilum Hybrids'
Another show-off orchid are the Paphiopedilum 'Paphiopedilum Hybrids', also known as slipper orchids. The flowers are curious, and the whole family temptingly collectable, with a decorative pouch designed to capture insects and dust them with pollen. They are fairly easy to grow, just keep the soil evenly moist, give them some humidity, and keep away from direct sunlight.