Orchid Flowers

Learn about hardy orchids that survive in the garden.

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Bletilla striata  (03) Habit

Bletilla striata (03) Habit

Chinese Ground Orchid Bletilla striata

Chinese Ground Orchid Bletilla striata

Consider adding hardy orchid flowers to your perennial gardens. When most people think of orchids, they think of the epiphytic types that grow in tropical settings and wind up in corsages. But there are native orchids that are hardy in Zones 5 to 9. These hardy orchids flower and grow much like a perennial. As with any blossom, knowing orchid flower meaning enriches growing even the hardy orchids.  

Orchid flowers are easily one of the most recognized blooms with their elegant shape and exotic colors. Hardy orchid flowers native to North America account for over 1,000 species. Over 100 hardy orchids are native to the Mid-Atlantic region, and North Carolina is home to 60 native orchid flowers.  

Hardy orchids are also called terrestrial orchids, which refers to the fact that they grow in soil. In the garden, orchid flowers grow much like perennials. The plants have a dormant time of year, although in southern regions, plants can be evergreen. Most terrestrial orchids produce clumps that increase in size over time, which means that the number of orchid flower stems also increases over time.  

Many of the hardy orchids flower in woodland or forest-edge settings, although some prefer a grassland environment. Only a small number can tolerate direct sun. Hardy orchids are relatively easy to grow once you get the setting and soil correct. Most don’t need intense care or even fertilizer to thrive. Many terrestrial orchids grow in the same conditions that perennials like hosta, astilbe, bleeding heart and Solomon’s seal do.  

When these hardy orchids flower, you can expect to see individual blossoms or spikes of blooms in varying hues. These blossoms have the classic orchid flower form—it’s easy to see the family resemblance. These hardy species share the same orchid flower meanings as the exotic, more traditional houseplants.  

Orchid flower meaning embraces a host of somewhat diverse concepts. Orchid flowers have several meanings intertwined with fertility and love. The tuberous bulbs of one orchid species are said to resemble dog testicles, so in ancient Greece women have their husbands eat these roots to increase their virility. A pregnant woman would feed the tubers to her husband to ensure she gave birth to a boy.  

In Victorian England, orchid flowers were held in high esteem and viewed as a treasure. They were difficult to obtain and came from faraway lands at great price. Thus the orchid flower meaning of luxury was born. The flowers also symbolize perfection and beauty, due to the orchid flower’s symmetry.  

Orchid flower meaning also embraces strength, due to the plant’s ability to grow—and bloom—in a variety of difficult environments. In Chinese culture, orchid flower meaning includes innocence, refinement and many children. Orchid flowers are what should be chosen for a traditional 14th wedding anniversary bouquet. 

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