top of page

Spotlight on Orchids

Updated: May 1

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but there’s one plant family that you can see in bloom all year here: orchids. These members of the larger species group orchidaceae come in all varieties of colors, shapes, and sizes. Let’s dig into a few of our favorite types.

Oncidium orchids

Delicately thin-stemmed and part of a large family (boasting over 300 varieties) these colorful plants commonly known as “popcorn” or “dancing ladies” grow chock full of small blooms. Oncidiums are native to Central and South America and grow in a variety of colors, notably yellow, orange, pink and purple. They prefer partial sun and well-drained soil, flowering mainly in the fall. Oncidium orchids can handle more sunlight than some other types of orchids (looking at you, phalaenopsis) and therefore make great window planters. 

A handful of oncidium orchids


Also sometimes called Boat orchids (Cymba is latin for boat), these thick-stemmed orchids originated in Asia and have many varieties that grow throughout the world. The cooler  months are when cymbidiums bloom (fall through spring), and they can be grown as terrestrial orchids (in the ground), epiphytic orchids (in/on trees) or even lithophytic orchids (on rocks). Their flowers are often so large that the stems need extra support to hold them up! 

Cymbidium orchid stem


Another orchid family that has an abundance of species, dendrobium orchids are a favorite for lei here in the islands. The roots of these perennials tend to creep over the trees and rocks that they are planted near, which is how they got their name - dendron is the Greek word for tree. They can survive under a wide range of conditions but thrive in indirect sunlight and mildly warm temperatures (65-75 degrees Fahrenheit).  

Dendrobium plant with white blooms


In Hawaii many of us know this, but it may surprise some to know that the vanilla extract that flavors your favorite baked goods is derived from an orchid plant. Vanilla grows as a vine and is one of the more labor-intensive plants to harvest - getting them to flower and then pollinating them during their brief blooming period is just the first challenge: if the pollination takes  then there is a nine month maturing phase before a lengthy curing process. This orchid likes filtered shade and high humidity, and is often grown in a greenhouse or under shadehouses. There are several vanilla growers on Hawaii island.     

Vanilla orchid (photo taken from Hawaiian Vanilla Company website)

Hawaii growers

The Big Island has been called “The Orchid Isle” and is still home to many commercial orchid growers, although the 2018 Kilauea eruption greatly affected orchid production on the east side of the island. Below we’ve spotlighted a few local nurseries who do great work.   

ACK orchids This family-owned business based in the Hilo area. They specialize in dendrobium orchids. 


The Orchid People A cymbidium orchid nursery in Waimea run by Jennifer Snyder and Bob Harris. Check out some of their lovely orchids on their website


Green Point Nursery Located in Keaau and specializing in anthuriums, tropical flowers and foliages, Green Point grows 8 different types of orchids. Besides serving Hawaii, they also ship to The contiguous US, Canada, and Japan.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page