In the 19th century, the upper tier of society paid handsomely, sometimes thousands of dollars, for the privilege of owning orchids.
While thankfully not quite as expensive today, orchids still come with a rather high price tag.
Here are the top 10 reasons orchids are so expensive.
Why Are Orchids So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
There are more than 30,000 different species of orchids and 150,000 hybrids, but that number is decreasing due to a number of species facing extinction as endangered species.
The term “endangered species” refers to a living thing with low numbers in nature, putting it at risk to become extinct and gone from nature entirely.
The five rarest orchids (and their shockingly low estimated number count) include:
- Fairrie’s Paphiopedilum (fewer than 50)
- Western Underground Orchid (fewer than 50)
- Vietnamese Paphiopedilum (fewer than 50)
- Hawaiian Bog Orchid (28–33)
- Zeuxine Rolfiana (18)
Most orchids become endangered thanks to the destruction of their natural habitat as part of deforestation.
When people tear down plants to develop shopping malls and condominiums, especially in particularly rich ecosystems, the plants that were torn down can’t grow the same thanks to the altered environment.
We can all do our part to ensure that orchids continue to prosper by contributing to conservation efforts both locally and across the globe.
Rare orchids cost significantly more than common types of orchids.
A Rothschild slipper orchid that only grows in Malaysia costs $6,000 for one flower.
The most expensive orchid ever sold was the synthetic Shenzhen Nongke Orchid that went for $290,000.
The flowers only bloomed once a year, but when they did, the flower was magnificent.
Of course, most orchids aren’t quite as rare as the ones mentioned above.
Common orchids that are easy to take care of tend to have larger numbers.
The five most common types of orchids include:
The common varieties of orchids cost the least, with orange cymbidiums, peppermint red cymbidiums, white & pink cymbidiums all costing about $22 a piece.
Some dendrobiums can come at a price as low as $3.
2. Brilliant Colors
Orchids come in a brilliant variety of colors and designs that show us exactly why Mother Nature will always come out on top when it comes to creating beauty.
The most attractive orchids tend to cost more money since there is a higher demand.
You can find natural orchids in just about any color you can think of, except for black.
This means you can find orchids to match anything you want to match.
You can even find blue and green orchids.
However, it’s not necessarily the single color but the combination of multiple colors that really give orchids such appeal.
Most orchids have two or more colors to them, enhancing the entire flower’s appearance.
Some common color combinations include:
- Purple and yellow
- Pink and white
- Red and white
- Yellow and pink
There’s something out of this world about the beautiful designs found in orchids that resembles something alien and absolutely stunning.
The patterns can’t be found naturally anywhere else in the entire world.
You can even find orchids that come in wild designs that have faces and look like different animals.
You have to see them to witness for yourself how intricate and stunning the patterns are to believe it.
Orchids carry special meaning depending on the culture.
In ancient Greece, the orchid represented fertility.
This was especially important at the beginning of modern civilization.
People presented orchids to couples when they got married, and they gifted orchids to young men coming of age to wish them well in regard to their future offspring.
Today, orchids symbolize love, beauty, and wealth.
Naturally, orchids are extraordinarily gorgeous.
Since they are more expensive than other flowers, when someone gifts an orchid to another person, it’s giving them the gift of well wishes for prosperity in the future in both love and finances.
At a funeral, many people use orchids as a symbol of their undying love for their loved one as well as the beauty that their loved one brought into the world.
4. Difficult To Grow
Orchids are not the best choice for a novice gardener since they require special attention.
While different orchids have unique care instructions, they all tend to share a common trait of stubbornness.
Unfortunately, most busy people can’t possibly handle the chore on their own, especially if they travel often or work long hours.
If you decide you want to take on the responsibility of nurturing an orchid to full blossom at the height of its maturity, you want to do your research and ensure you set yourself up for success (and beautiful flowers).
First, you want to find the right pot and planting soil.
The pot must give the plant a lot of space to grow.
Put your seeds into highly permeable soil that allows the plant to breathe and drain the water.
Next, you need to find a good place for the orchid.
In general, orchids grow best when placed by windows in the south or east of your house, whichever gets better lighting.
It can be best to grow orchids inside since you will have more control over how much sunlight they get.
While they need a lot of light, you also don’t want to give them too much light.
It’s also important to note that the plant shouldn’t get too much water.
This means you also need to ensure that the plant doesn’t live in a humid room.
Remember, growing orchids is more about the balance between water, air, and light more than an abundance of any one of these things.
Orchids are one of the most popular flowers in the world.
In fact, it’s a great option for any small gift for a family member or a colleague at the office.
Want to guess your grandma’s or your girlfriend’s favorite flower?
Orchid is a solid first guess.
While the rose is the most popular flower in the world, orchids are consistently placed high on the list of most popular flowers.
Orchids have been popular for centuries, coming up often in historical texts and paintings.
They were also extremely popular in weddings during the 1940s and 1959s.
Orchids still are the most popular flower for Mother’s Day gifts.
Today, you can find orchid collectors all over the world.
These collectors will pay top dollar to acquire the best orchids in the market.
When people want something, retailers can increase the price.
When orchids start to dwindle in popularity, the price will decrease.
6. Location, Location, Location
Orchids do grow almost everywhere except the driest of environments, such as Antarctica and the desert.
You can find both cold climate orchids and orchids that thrive better in warm weather.
However, certain orchids only grow in certain areas, making them difficult to find and also difficult (and expensive) to transport.
Most orchids prefer tropical climates.
Columbia in particular boasts 4,000 species of orchids with 1,543 of those species only growing naturally in Columbia and no other country.
It’s not only about quantity, though.
Many of the orchids are rare, gorgeous, and can last up to 100 years, making them very high-quality flowers.
Many experts attribute the abundance of orchids in Columbia to the warm, dry climate, great soil, and various elevations.
China, India, and the Philippines also have a reputation for having large numbers of natural orchids.
These places are all very far away from the United States.
Not only do people need to transport these beautiful flowers from great distances, but they also need to keep them alive in the process.
Unfortunately, this can include expensive equipment to help keep trucks, planes, and boats temperature controlled.
7. Genetic Modification
God gave us beautiful orchids.
Naturally, we need to take what grows naturally and put our own touch on it.
This can lead to some amazing new colors and patterns that you can’t find in nature.
For example, Dr. Masahiro Mii at Chiba University created a brilliant blue color by incorporating the flavanoid 3’,5’-hydroxylase gene into a common phalaenopsis.
Orchid flowers are complex and have multiple parts to them, including:
- Petal: largest and most vibrant pieces of the orchid,
- Sepal: three slightly smaller petals that form a triangular shape
- Throat: inner, colorful part of the orchid
- Lip: growth connected to the column that assists with pollination
- Column: small, elevated reproductive organ located in between the two largest petals
We have gotten to the point in genetic modification where we can not only manipulate color but also take the most desirable parts of different orchid flowers to create the best flowers.
The researchers at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan led by Dr. Yang discovered that all flowers follow a genetic code they refer to as the Perianth code.
This code helps tap into the complexity of orchids and allows botanists to create new plants.
Naturally, genetic modifications are extremely expensive.
This makes genetically modified orchids significantly more expensive than those grown in the wild.
However, we also get the opportunity to take the knowledge we learned from the genetic modification of orchids and possibly apply it to other things, advancing technology.
8. Health Benefits
There are numerous studies that indicate that presence of flowers and being in nature can elevate a person’s mood.
However, orchids have something even more special to them.
Orchids come with possible health benefits that can contribute to a happy and healthy life thanks to their natural beauty as well as the different vitamins you will find in them.
While medical science may not substantiate all claims, isn’t surrounding yourself with beauty undeniably good for both the mind and body?
1. Optic Health
You need your eyes to properly witness the majesty of your favorite orchids.
Luckily, orchids can actually help with that.
The vitamin C and vitamin E inside of orchids contribute to good eye health.
Some people struggle with proper digestion, especially people with diseases that affect the digestive tract.
To receive the benefits, you can simply eat orchid flowers.
The juice from the flowers can aid in the treatment of many digestive problems, including diarrhea, constipation, and ulcers.
3. Skin Care
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and it requires regular care if you expect it to remain elastic and vibrant.
Luckily, the vitamin A you find from orchids can become part of an effective skincare routine.
You can use the juice from just about any orchid plant on your skin as a moisturizer that will bring out your natural glow and slow down the inevitable aging process.
4. Immune System
Your immune system protects your body against foreign items that enter your body, such as a virus or bacteria.
Vitamin C has been known to help boost the immune system, which is why people encourage others to drink orange juice when sick.
Orchids just happen to have plenty of vitamin C in the flowers.
All you need to do is eat one with your salad!
5. Mental Health
Orchids have undeniable beauty.
Surrounding yourself with beautiful things can actually help provide an environment conducive for positive mental health.
We live in scary times, and the pressure of the times can weigh us down, leading to depression and anxiety.
Instead of paying for expensive therapy and medications, try creating a better place for yourself.
9. Used For Special Events
People like to use orchids for special occasions due to how pretty and rare they are.
One of the most common special events where you can find orchids are weddings.
Most people choose white orchids for weddings, but colorful couples may choose orchids that fit their wedding color scheme, too.
Of course, when people buy flowers for a wedding, you need a lot of them.
Plus, many florists charge more when they know the flowers will be used for a wedding.
Orchids used in wedding arrangements will also have additional flowers, filler, and embellishments, adding to the cost.
Plus, florists put more time and effort into preparing flowers for a wedding or other large event since they know exactly how important the event is to you.
Here are the prices of different types of orchids popular in weddings (per stem):
- Phalaenopsis: $98.00
- Cymbidium: $70.00
- Oncidium: $64.75
- Vanda: $57.75
- Dendrobium: $52.50
If you use a phalaenopsis orchid as part of each table’s centerpiece and have 20 different tables, you can expect to pay $1960.
For comparison, carnations and lilies both cost roughly $2.23. Of course, you’ll need more of them to create an appealing centerpiece.
However, it can be beneficial to get less expensive roses in the arrangement to help ensure the decorations look full while also balancing out the price tag.
Of course, weddings require more flowers outside of the centerpieces.
You will also need bouquets, corsages, and petals for the flower girl.
Some elaborate orchid bridal bouquets can go as high as $965.
Don’t forget that you will also want to use the orchids to help decorate the bridal party’s table at the reception and possibly around the cake.
10. Great Smell
Orchids smell amazing.
They add a gentle fragrance to any room without overpowering it.
Naturally, people recognize a floral smell from the orchids.
What sets orchids apart from other flowers is that you will also detect a hint of spice and exoticism in the scent as well.
You can put the orchids in the rooms with heavy traffic to help cover up everyday smells.
They also go great in bedrooms and other rooms with low humidity.
While many people may want to put an orchid in a bathroom, that might not be the best idea unless it has exceptional ventilation.
While most orchids smell great, not all of them do.
For example, the Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis produces an awful smell when it opens.
However, many people think the flower is ultimately worth the unpleasant odor.
Orchids may come with a hefty price tag, but they are also one of the most beautiful and popular flowers on the market, making them especially coveted for special occasions.
If you need a quick gift, you can’t go wrong by spending a little bit more with an orchid.
Just make sure that you go over the care instructions with the recipient.