Miniature Orchids

There are lots of miniature orchids that stay small, such as many Ascocentrums, Bulbophyllums, Masdevallias, and countless other orchid types. They might be small, but they are no less beautiful. In fact, many of my favorite orchids are miniatures. They don't fall into any single taxonomic group; most orchid genera have species in a wide range of sizes. Size of plants and flowers is something easily adjusted by natural selection to fit changing habitats and pollinators, and it's also relatively straightforward for orchid breeders to create larger flowers through hybridization, linebreeding, etc. In some cases, you can find a plant that looks a lot like a smaller version of another plant you like; for example, Ascocentrums look a lot like miniature Vandas, but often with brighter colors!

Some people arbitrarily classify any orchid shorter than 6 inches as "miniature". But even within that category there is a wide range of sizes. For example, I've been trying to find an Areldia dressleri for a number of years; it's only a couple millimeters high, but the flowers are often bigger than the entire growth that produced them! (Sadly, I can't find these orchids for sale anywhere.)

Little orchids don't require any different care than larger orchids. Because they tend to be in smaller pots or mounted on slabs, they often dry out more quickly and need to be watered more often as a consequence. But the advantage is that you can fit a lot more orchids into the same amount of space! Many orchidists that specialize in pleurothallids or other types of tiny orchids have collections of hundreds of plants that can all fit on a tabletop (or, commonly, into an orchidarium.)

Miniature orchids tend to be less expensive, too: they take up less space for orchid breeders, so costs of producing them are less.

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