I thought I would post something about fragrant orchids because why not get an orchid that not only is beautiful but smells as well? This list is only comprised of orchids that produce a pleasing scent. Since this all really subjective on the individual…
I figured that I would post the top five best smelling orchids and not put them in any order because they all give off very different smells, but I wanted to give you a variety to choose from. Some are great because they put off a great smell, but don’t produce the most extraordinary looking flowers, and some are both! It depends on what you are searching for to compliment your collection.
1. Odontoglossoms (o-don-toh-GLOSS-um)
Commonly referred to as Ondots, Ondontoglossoms are closely related to Oncidiums. They will produce large groups of impressive flowers in pink, yellow, orange, red, and white. Ondots thrive in medium to bright light with water once every week.
They should be fed with orchid specific fertilizer once a month during the Spring and Winter. Ondots should be in an environment with temperatures ranging from 50 to 70F.
Make sure you select the right Ondontoglossom as some can be more challenging than others.
2. Neofinetia Falcata
Image credited: Flick
Produces a sweet jasmine smell that has been recognized for a long time out in Asia, but is just really starting to hit it’s peak popularity here in the US. People not only love this one because it is one of the best smelling orchids, but their foliage is often thought more beautiful and eye appealing than the flowers that it produces.
3. Rhynchostylis Gigantea
This is a great orchid for anyone’s collection, as well as, a worthy mention for one of the best smelling orchids around. It has an unmistakable spicy smell that can fill up a room. Also, it has the ability to produce many flowers and the great thing about them is you never really know what they’ll look like until they bloom.
They have a large variety of colors and patterns. If you want the most bang for your buck this is the one for you. These babies produce bunches of bulbs off of each spike.
4. Maxillaria Tenuifolia
This orchid is for the island lovers and has the smell of coconut. Like the Neofinetia Falcata, it’s a great looking plant to have around the house just for the foliage! Don’t expect large flowers or even a lot per plant because these orchids typically grow one flower per spike and are fairly small, but the reason people have such a demand for them is because of their intoxicating scent.
5. Brassevola Nedosa – ‘Lady of the Night’
This is definitely one of the best smelling orchids and gets its name because it gives off a gardenia/citrus/lillyish type of smell. The cool thing about this orchid is that it is an easy plant to care for and looks great when you mount it to a piece of bark. You can expect multiple flowerings from this orchid per year and is a great air freshener. The reason that it produces its fragrance at night is that this is when it can attract insects to pollinate it. In the case of Brassevola Nedosa, it’s trying to attract a certain type of moth only active at night.
6. Cattleya (KAT-lee-a)
Often referred to as a corsage orchid, the Cattleya is a great indoor orchid. The blooms are so beautiful and unique they are common cut flowers as well. Their flowers are often than not fragrant and can be seen in a range of colors from yellow to red, pink, white, and orange. Cats thrive in medium to bright light while being watered weekly. They should be fertilized once a month in the Spring and Summer to see the biggest blooms. They will be happiest in moderate temperatures between 60-70F.
Make sure your Cattleya gets plenty of light. This will allow them to bloom quicker and more frequently as their blooms only last a couple of weeks. They will bloom twice a year though if put in the correct light.
7. Encyclia (en-SEE-clee-ah)
Commonly known as the Cockleshell orchid, Encyclia’s are very distinct orchids. They will produce purple clam-shaped flowers with green sepals that resemble tentacles. The blooms will last a month or so, but mature plants will produce a large number of blossoms that will bloom year-round.
Encyclia’s thrive in bright light with water once a week. It is key for the orchid mix to dry out a bit between watering. Enjoy vibrant blooms by fertilizing them once a month and placing in temperatures between 60-80F.
Bright light and higher temperatures will put this orchid in an environment it is happiest. Encyclia spikes will come from the top of the pseudobulbs in the early Spring or Winter and they prefer to be repotted when a new pseudobulb is beginning to grow.
8. Jewell Orchid (Ludisia discolor)
The great thing about the Jewell Orchid is that when it is not in bloom it is still an eye-catching plant. It has beautiful purple foliage with pink stripes. Its blooms are a great addition to the foliage with their small white appearance.
The Jewell Orchid will bloom in late Summer or early Fall. Ludisia discolor thrives in low to medium light while watering only once a week or even once every two weeks. They need to dry out a bit between watering so they are not too saturated. Fertilize once a month and keep in temperatures between 55 to 80F.
Jewell Orchids need a high level of humidity to keep their eye-catching leaves from developing brown and crunchy edges.
9. Phaius (Nun’s Orchid)
The Nun Orchid is a large specimen of a plant that features gorgeous groups of purple, brown, and white blooms. The blooms are in full effect in the Winter and sit atop 3 foot stems with bright green wavy leaves.
The Nun Orchid is happiest in medium to bright light with a weekly watering from the Spring to the Fall. To see regular blooming it should be fertilized every week during the Spring and Summer. It will thrive in temperatures ranging from 60 to 80F.
Unlike most orchids, make sure your Nun Orchid doesn’t dry out and the air it is in doesn’t get too dry. If this happens its foliage will develop crispy brown edges.
10. Oncidium Sharry Baby
Be careful with this one! You might want to pluck it off the stem and eat it. It smells like chocolate and is a very beautiful specimen. If you love chocolate and you love orchids, this is the one for you!
Some people say it also has the scent of a bunch of baking cookies (Chocolate chip, I’m guessing). It also produces a very pretty dark purple and white flower, that’s almost as beautiful as it is appealing to the nose. If I were to rank my #1 pick of all best smelling orchids, this would be it!