Contrary to popular belief, wild orchids are not confined to the wet and steamy tropics but are found from Patagonia to the Arctic Circle. Below you’ll find a slideshow of wild orchids, a video tutorial about orchid flower anatomy and how to sketch them, and some of my favorite tips on growing orchids.

I’ve been lucky to see native orchids throughout the US, from Alaska to Florida, but also in Mexico, the Caribbean, Honduras, Peru, and Borneo. I’ve created this short video for you as just a quick taste of orchid diversity seen on my trip to Borneo. Enjoy!

Sketching Orchids

Download this Orchid Sketching Cheatsheet and draw your own orchid as you watch the following video that I filmed as a Facebook Live for my Nature Sketching Challenge group. I also share my favorite tips for growing orchids starting at minute 41:15 in the video below.

Growing Orchids

Aside from visiting orchids in the wild, I also love to grow them, including Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum and even Vanilla (yes, it’s an orchid)! Though in the dry air of our high desert home in central Oregon, the ones that do best are those from similarly warm, dry climates.

Often, I’m quite successful at getting my orchids to not only survive after bringing them home from the store (Trader Joe’s being my favorite) but also getting them to rebloom. So, folks always ask what my secret is, and I say “Benign Neglect”, meaning not too much sun, water, cold or soil. Also, I always repot them after they’re done blooming in a custom mixture of orchid bark, sphagnum moss, charcoal, and perlite. Frankly, my orchids love it when I’m traveling, because that’s the ultimate in neglect. Each time I arrive back home, I invariably find at least one of my plants has sprouted a blossoming stem.

Learn More about Orchids

  • If you’d like to learn more about orchids and their cultivation, I’d start at the American Orchid Society.
  • If you’re in the US, you may enjoy this website; The North American Orchid Conservation Center.
  • For a comprehensive book on orchids, look no further than The Orchids: Natural History and Classification (1981, 1990), by Robert L. Dressler.

Want to see tropical orchids in the wild?

If the above video has whet your appetite for seeing some of these orchids, you’d love visiting the island of Borneo with Paradise Birding on an upcoming birdwatching /nature adventure tour. It’s definitely a ‘trip of a lifetime’, where you’d also see orangutans, elephants, flying squirrels, wild cats and 1,000’s of plant species. And by the way, Borneo boasts over 3,000 species of orchids, from the cloud forests of Mt. Kinabalu to the lowland rainforests of the Danum Valley.