Few flowering plant families are as diverse and geographically widespread as the orchid family, or Orchidaceae. Twenty-five thousand orchid species have been identified around the world. Some are dainty with monochromatic petals; others have big bulbous bodies and loud patterns like bright spots or stripes. Still others have the look, smell, and feel of a female bee (check out Ophrys to see for yourself) or resemble a monkey’s face (see Dracula aphrodes and Dracula marsupialis). For the best of the best in the wonderful world of orchids, visit these seven botanical gardens and admire their vast collections.
1. National Orchid Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens — Singapore
The first ever UNESCO World Heritage site in Singapore, these beautiful botanic gardens are celebrating their 160th anniversary this year. Head straight for the National Orchid Garden at the Tyersall Gallop Entrance to see over 1,000 orchid species and twice as many hybrids. More than 60,000 flowers decorate the garden in total, one for every color imaginable and then some. Admission is $5 for adults, $1 for students and seniors, and free for children under 12.
2. Fuqua Orchid Center, Atlanta Botanical Garden — Atlanta, Georgia
Orchid lovers get three times the displays at Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Fuqua Orchid Center. Visit the Orchid Atrium for a mix of orchids and other tropical plants, or drop by the Tropical High Elevation House for orchids native to the Andes, Venezuela, and Borneo. There’s also the Orchid Display House, which showcases tropical species like the Asian slipper orchid. Seasonal events including the upcoming Orchid Daze show (on from February 9 to April 7 this year) also pass through the Fuqua Orchid Center.
3. Ernest Thorpe Orchid House, Durban Botanic Gardens — Durban, South Africa
This house of flora in Durban, South Africa, opened its doors midway through the 1800s. There wasn’t an orchid in sight for nearly a century, but by 1962, there was a dedicated orchid house among the gardens, named for the curator who started the orchid collection. Today, thousands of orchids representing 75 distinct genera are grown onsite and showcased alongside bromeliads and other flowers when they’re in bloom.
4. Soroa Orchid Garden — Cuba
The best time to visit the Soroa Orchid Garden is spring when most of the orchids are in bloom. Much of the flora displayed here grows natively, and the orquidário is committed to the conservation of Cuban orchids. Hundreds of different species in all sizes, shapes, and scents cover the beautifully landscaped garden. Guided tours are recommended as not everything is well marked, but the staff is knowledgeable.
5. Orchid Garden, Perdana Botanical Gardens — Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Orchids and hibiscus are the highlights of Perdana Botanical Garden in Kuala Lumpur. Hibiscus is tough competition for the star-attraction title seeing as it’s the national flower of Malaysia, but the elegant orchids here really do steal the show. Peruse 800 orchid species dressed in oranges, pinks, purples, and other sunset hues arranged neatly around a rock garden and pergola for the creepers and climbing varieties. Admission is free.
6. Gothenburg Botanical Garden — Gothenburg, Sweden
This botanical garden stores the biggest collection of tropical orchids in Sweden. You’ll see 1,500 different orchids on your tour of the site’s greenhouses, alongside fascinating carnivorous plants and the rare Easter Island Tree. Among the species present are the yellow lady’s slipper orchid and the showy lady’s slipper orchid with its pink body and white petals.
7. Monteverde Orchid Garden — Monteverde, Costa Rica
Orchids come in many forms, some of which are truly wild. Though it has a smaller collection than some of the others on this list at around 460 species, you can count on this orchid garden to display some of the craziest-looking flowers you’ve ever seen, from white-and-pink-speckled blooms to large, tiger-striped plants. Plus, the site houses some truly tiny orchids, the smallest measuring just two centimeters wide. Visit any time of year as the garden sees “an average of 120 orchids in bloom per day,” according to the website.