15 Purple Orchid Varieties For Indoor and Outdoor Gardens

Thinking of adding a few purple orchids to your flower garden but aren't sure which type to add? There are many different shades of purple orchids, so picking the perfect flower can be a bit difficult! In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss looks at the some of the top purple orchid varieties you can grow!

purple orchids

Orchids can be quite finicky in their needs, particularly if grown outside of their native climates. Most can be grown outdoors, year-round, in zones 9-12, but in any climate that experiences temperatures below 30°, they need to be brought indoors in the winter. With this in mind, it can be incredibly satisfying to tend to any type of thriving orchid.

Purple has been known as the color of royalty, nobility, and power. A historically difficult color to dye garments, the color was reserved for only the most distinguished members of society. In flowers, fortunately, the color is far more common. There are numerous varieties of purple orchids ranging in shade from pale lavender to nearly black and every shade in between.

I have enjoyed compiling this list of some of the most striking and beautiful, purple orchids from eight different species and a host of locations around the world. Let’s dig into these regal works of nature’s art!

‘Purple Stained Laelia’

Close-up of Purple Stained Laelia orchids. 4 magnificent large snow-white flowers with a dark purple ruffled lip that has a white spot at the end. Light green oblong foliage surrounds blooming orchids.
This is one of the largest orchid species that produces pale white flowers with deep purple ruffled lips.
Scientific Name: Cattleya Purpurata var. Schusteriana
  • Bloom Time:  Spring and Summer
  • Geographical Location: Brazil
  • Sun Exposure: Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10-12

This Cattleya Laelia hybrid holds a place as one of the largest in stature and flower size of all the orchids. This type of orchid is native to Brazil where it can be commonly found in rainforest areas, close to water.

It is a moderately labor-intensive plant to maintain and likes a fair amount of sunlight and water. Outside of its native zones, it will survive best in a humid, sunny bathroom window where it will have several hours of morning sun.

The ‘Purple Stained Laelia’ gets its name from the dark purple interior of its fluted labellum. Flanked by delicate white petals and sepals, the lip of this orchid stands out for its deep plum shade. It also has a spicy fragrance reminiscent of anise or licorice.

This Laelia is highly sought after by florists and orchid enthusiasts. It is popular for cut flowers and for hybridizing.

‘Splash’

Close-up of three magnificent white and purple Splash orchids. The petals and sepals are white in the center with bright purple spots along the edges, which gave the name to this variety. The lip protrudes from the center of the flower and is the same bright purple color as the blotches on its petals and sepals. A couple of unopened green buds stick out along with bloomed flowers. The background is green and blurred.
This beautiful Dendrobium hybrid prefers to grow in diffused sunlight.
Scientific Name: Dendrobium Enobi Purple ‘Splash’
  • Bloom Time:  Summer and Fall
  • Geographical Location: Southeast Asia and Northern Australia
  • Sun Exposure: Part Sun, Bright Filtered Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9-11

Another white and purple combination, this lovely dendrobium hybrid likes bright, but filtered sunlight and plenty of it. Too little sunlight will result in fewer flowers, so finding a good spot for this one is very important.

‘Splash’ likes a lot of water during its blooming season, which spans from summer through fall. Because it likes a lot of water, proper drainage is a must for this variety.

This purple orchid is considered a mini dendrobium, with stalks of 1.5-inch flowers. The petals and sepals are white in the center and splashed with bright purple around the edges, lending this variety its name.

This variety is considered a phalaenopsis dendrobium because of its similarity to the phalaenopsis blooms. The lip protrudes from the center of the flower and is the same bright purple as the splashes on its petals and sepals.

‘Piccola Surprise’

Close-up of two purple Piccola Surprise orchids. Phalaenopsis flowers are purple in color, have rounded petals and sepals, pale purple with darker stripes and a deep purple lip. Several unopened buds hang on a branch. The background is blurry.
‘Piccola Surprise’ produces beautiful large flowers with a purple tinge and a deep purple lip with darker stripes.
Scientific Name: Phalaenopsis ‘Piccola Surprise’
  • Bloom Time:  Late Spring and Summer
  • Geographical Location: Asia and Australia
  • Sun Exposure: Low light
  • Plant Zone: 10-12

This petite phalaenopsis variety is known for producing a wide array of colors. Most plants produce flowers with some purple, though, so it finds their way to our list as a result of this characteristic.

Like most orchids of its species, ‘Piccola Surprise’ likes low light and slightly moist potting medium. When potting Phalaenopsis, adding some peat moss to the potting medium is recommended.

‘Piccola Surprise’ is an orchid that blooms in shades of pink, orange, yellow, and white in addition to purple. This small plant has rounded petals and sepals commonly in pale purple with darker striping and a deep purple lip. Easy to care for, this orchid does not require a lot of sunlight and will be happiest in indirect light.

‘Mayumi’

Close up of single flower that has five long petals and a central labellum that are all white with deep purple veins and freckles throughout with blurred green foliage and one more flower in the background
Though this flower is mostly white, there are enough deep purple veins and freckles to consider it purple.
Scientific Name: Brassavola Nodosa x Cattleya Bowringiana
  • Bloom Time: Winter
  • Geographical Location: Central America
  • Sun Exposure: Bright Indirect Light
  • Plant Zone: 10-12

This lovely hybrid known as Brassanthe Maikai ‘Mayumi’ is worth mentioning for its unique appearance. A cross between cattleya and brassavola orchids, this hybrid orchid blooms multiple times throughout the year. It can be treated much like a cattleya, preferring a lot of indirect light and good drainage.

The color is white with pale purple veining and deep purple freckles. One to two blooms occur per pseudobulb. Narrow petals and sepals are uniform in size and shape. A very large labellum brings drama to this otherwise inconspicuous bloom.

The lip is large and fans out to almost the full diameter of the flower. White in the center, and purple towards the edges, with darker veining, this orchid releases a soft fragrance in the evening.

‘Moonlit Grape’

Close-up of 5 blooming Moonlit Grape orchid flowers. The flowers on the spathoglottis are small with uniform petals and sepals. The flowers have a nice warm purple color with white stripes on the petals. A small lip protrudes from the center of the flower and resembles a snake's mouth. The leaves are long and grass-like. The background is blurry.
‘Moonlit Grape’ produces clusters of small, fragrant purple flowers with white stripes on the petals.
Scientific Name: Spathoglottis Sorbet ‘Moonlit Grape’
  • Bloom Time:  Summer and Fall
  • Geographical Location: Florida, USA
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Light Shade
  • Plant Zone: 9-10

Spathoglottis is known commonly as the “ground orchid.” Rather than being epiphytic, like most species, this orchid is terrestrial and grows in the ground. It can be grown in a container but it will need a potting medium that holds more water than traditional orchid bark.

‘Moonlit Grape’ has long, grass-like leaves and sprouts long stems topped with clusters of lightly fragrant flowers. The flowers on a spathoglottis are small with uniform petals and sepals.

‘Moonlit Grape’ flowers in a lovely warm purple color with white striping on the petals. A small, uniquely shaped labellum protrudes from the center of the flower and resembles a serpent’s mouth.

‘Purple Reed Orchid’

Close-up of the bright purple flowers of Epidendrum x obrienianum purple collected in a cluster. The petals and sepals are thin, the same, there is also a cruciform lip with a yellow center. The background is brown and blurred.
This type of orchid has bright purple flowers collected in brushes.
Scientific Name: Epidendrum x obrienianum purple
  • Bloom Time: Year Round
  • Geographical Location: North, Central, and South America
  • Sun Exposure: Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10-11

Epidendrum orchids have many nicknames and are commonly regarded as ground orchids. However, they are technically epiphytes. These low-maintenance orchids can be planted in the ground. However, they will grow aerial roots above the ground to absorb water and nutrients from the air. These hardy orchids are a great beginner plant as they are versatile and easy to propagate.

Of over 1,000 varieties of epidendrum, this vibrant purple one is surprisingly memorable. Tall reeds grow with small, modeled leaves in a ladder formation. The blooms are small and clustered, and bright fuchsia purple. Petals and sepals are uniform, and the signature cross-like labellum has earned epidendrums the nickname “Crucifix Orchids.”

‘Black Purple Cymbidium’

Close-up of Black Purple Cymbidium flowers. The robust flowers have a deep burgundy hue, a well-proportioned lip of bright white with deep burgundy accents and a yellow center. Blurred gray background.
This variety has strong burgundy flowers and light green foliage.
Scientific Name: Cymbidium ‘Atropurpureum’
  • Bloom Time: Summer and Fall
  • Geographical Location: Southern Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Full Morning Sun, Afternoon Part Shade
  • Plant Zone: 10-12

This spectacular plant is terrestrial and lithophytic, meaning it grows in the ground or on rocks, rather than in the air. That said, they do quite well in hanging pots. Though they need less air circulation than most orchids because of their terrestrial habit. The plant grows quickly and requires repotting every 1-2 years.

This rather large orchid sends out spikes that bear 7-30 flowers each. The flowers have a rather unappealing, rotten coconut scent, but what they lack in fragrance appeal, they make up in physical beauty. 

The sturdy flowers are a deep burgundy shade, as are the stems and buds. This striking color stands out against bright, light green leaves. Blooms open to reveal a proportionate lip in bright white with deep burgundy accents and a yellow center.

‘Red Star’

Close-up of two Red Star orchid flowers. The flower has elongated and slightly curved petals and sepals, white in the center, turning into dark purple. The lip is proportionally large and apple-shaped. A deeply pigmented ring of white in the center is then edged with a deeper purple. Blurred flowers of Red Star orchid in the background.
This variety of purple dendrobium is easy to care for and prefers a moderate amount of moisture.
Scientific Name: Dendrobium ‘Red Star’
  • Bloom Time:  Winter and Spring
  • Geographical Location: Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9-12

‘Red Star’ is a misleading name, as this is very much a purple dendrobium variety. This unique and fragrant orchid looks wonderful in floral arrangements. Elongated and gently curved, the petals and sepals of this flower are white in the center fading to deep magenta.

The lip is proportionally large and has a bullseye appearance. Deeply pigmented in the center, a ring of white is then bordered by more of the deeper purple.

Dendrobiums are generally easy to care for and make great beginner orchids. They need a moderate amount of moisture, drying out between waterings. To produce their stalks of flowers, they need a fair amount of sunlight. They can bloom twice a year and their flowers are very long-lasting.

‘Lavender Ice’

Close-up of a Cattleya Lavender Ice flower. A large, ice-violet flower with a dark purple lip that has two lobes. The petals are large and round. Against the background of light green foliage and a black blurred background.
Cattleya ‘Lavender Ice’ blooms with spectacular and fragrant flowers of perfect purple color.
Scientific Name: Cattleya ‘Lavender Ice’
  • Bloom Time:  Spring and Fall
  • Geographical Location: Central America
  • Sun Exposure: Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9-12

Cattleya orchids are a very popular flower among orchid collectors as well as florists. They are nicknamed “corsage orchids” and “queen orchids” because of their large, showy, and frequently fragrant flowers.

Blooming up to twice per year, cattleyas usually produce one flower for each new pseudobulb the plant has produced. Spent pseudobulbs should remain attached to the plant as they store nutrients for newer growth.

‘Lavender Ice’ is a classic cattleya and the perfect, purple corsage orchid. Its large, long-lasting, fragrant flowers are an icy-purple color. The flower’s lip is deep magenta, and has two lobes, giving it a unique appearance. The petals are larger and more rounded than the sepals. Both can be spotted with the same color as the labellum in some plants.

‘Black Beauty’

Close up of bunch of small Vandachostylis Colmarie flowers. Each flower has five rounded petals that are a deep violet color. The background is blurred long green leaves of the plant
The petals of the ‘Black Beauty’ are such a deep purple, some consider it to be black.
Scientific Name: Vandachostylis Colmarie
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Geographical Location: Thailand
  • Sun Exposure: Bright Morning Sun and Afternoon Shelter
  • Plant Zone: 10-12

‘Black Beauty’ will thrive in bright light, where it will produce copious amounts of flowers on long weeping stems. They should last several weeks to months. A 50/50 mix of sun and shade, with shelter from the afternoon sun, will make this orchid happiest.

The blooms are quite lovely, and plentiful. Long stems produce 35-50 flowers branching out in all directions. The blooms are a deep violet color, nearly black. The blooms have a characteristic, pleasant fragrance.

‘Bellina Coerulea’

Close-up of a small Phalaenopsis ‘Bellina Coerulea’ flower. The flower has large pointed purple petals with light green edges. The lip is small and uniquely shaped, yellow in the center with a dark purple tip. Blurred orchid leaves in the background.
This fragrant orchid variety produces beautiful purple-green flowers.
Scientific Name: Phalaenopsis ‘Bellina Coerulea’
  • Bloom Time:  Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Geographical Location: Malaysia and Borneo
  • Sun Exposure: Shade
  • Plant Zone: 10-12

‘Bellina Coerulea’ is a vigorous and wonderfully fragranced variety of Phalaenopsis. Native to Malaysia and Borneo, it prefers to be in mostly shaded environments. A bit of morning sun is all it needs to produce these lovely flowers. Bellina is a highly popular variety among collectors of phalaenopsis orchids.

This extremely popular miniature orchid is a sight to behold. It earns its moniker “The Beautiful Phalaenopsis” with its unique coloration and graceful petals. Three large sepals are pointed and brushed with violet.

The two smaller petals are a paler shade of violet, and some flowers are tinged with a bright green. The lip is small and uniquely shaped, yellow in the center with a deep violet tip.

‘Honohono’

Close-up of Dendrobium Anosmum 'Honohono' orchids hanging down in a cascade of flowers against a black net. The flowers are medium in size, dark purple and white with a purple center. Green foliage on strong orchid vines curls between magnificent flowers.
Dendrobium Anosmum ‘Honohono’ produces medium-sized flowers with a deep purple hue.
Scientific Name: Dendrobium Anosmum ‘Honohono’
  • Bloom Time:  Winter and Spring
  • Geographical Location:  Southeast Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Bright Light

This dendrobium variety is among those with a deciduous habit. They lose their leaves in winter. During this time, they need to be kept in a brightly lit spot for photosynthesis to occur.  While they need a fair amount of water while in bloom, this should be reduced considerably when their leaves fall.

Cooler temperatures encourage regrowth and flowering. In spring, the plant will sprout ‘eyes’ from the places where the leaves have fallen, and then will grow rapidly, at which time, they need a lot of light, heat, and water.

‘Honohono’ grows medium-sized flowers from each of the eyes left by their fallen leaves. The flowers range from white to lavender and some darker shades of purple, and they have a wonderful and distinct fragrance. Learning to maintain this orchid can be challenging. It is not the best orchid for a novice.

‘Dragon Kitten’

Close-up of a small Dragon Kitten orchid flower. The flower is small and neat, with green edges, dark purple, almost brown petals and sepals. The labellum is large, bright purple, lobed and ruffled. In the background are other blooming Dragon Kitten flowers and bright green foliage.
‘Dragon Kitten’ prefers to grow in warmth and regular watering during the growing season.
Scientific Name: Zygopabstia Dragon Kitten ‘Purr’
  • Bloom Time:  Varies
  • Geographical Location: South America
  • Sun Exposure: Part Shade
  • Plant Zone: 10-12

This sweet little orchid is great for beginners. It is easy to grow and maintain. Part of the zygopetalum species, ‘Dragon Kitten’ likes to be kept warm and watered frequently in the growing season.

It needs a well-draining potting mix and lots of air circulation as It is a true epiphyte, and the roots will rot if kept soggy. It should be watered infrequently in cooler temperatures.

As its name implies, ‘Dragon Kitten’ is a mix of fierce and adorable. The fragrance is spicy (dragon), but the appearance is small and quite cute (kitten). Its small size and neat, green-edged, purple petals and sepals are sweet in contrast with its spicy fragrance. The labellum is large, bright violet, lobed and ruffled.

‘Melissa Brianne Dark’

Close-up of Melissa Brianne Dark flower. A reddish-purple flower with pink and slightly ruffled edges, a pink-burgundy lip with a delicate pink waterfall pattern. Nearby are two more orchid flowers on a black background.
This is a compact orchid that produces reddish-purple flowers with slightly ruffled petals and sepals.
Scientific Name: Vuylstekeara Melissa Brianne ‘Dark’
  • Bloom Time:  Summer
  • Geographical Location: Central and South America
  • Sun Exposure: Part Shade
  • Plant Zone: 9-12

I was naturally drawn to this orchid because we share a name! ‘Melissa Brianne’ is a member of the oncidium species. This plant has a compact growth habit. It can flower twice a year as well, and it is not difficult to grow.

Oncidium orchids are spray orchids, producing long stems of delicate blooms. The blooms on this plant last up to a month. They typically appear in the summertime.

‘Melissa Brianne Dark’ has deep purple flowers with a reddish hue. The petals and sepals are slender and lightly ruffled. The lip is ruffled and pronounced, with a delicate, pink waterfall pattern. The blooms are small, fragrant, and plentiful. A flower I am proud to share a name with.

‘Delight’

Close-up of Vanda Pachara 'Delight' flower. Bright purple flower, almost blue, with uniform, rounded petals and sepals, small lip. Interesting texture of the flower - dark purple streaks are throughout the flower. Dark green long leaves in the background. The background is a slightly blurred gray wall.
‘Delight’ blooms with bright purple flowers with a small lip in the center.
Scientific Name: Vanda Pachara ‘Delight’
  • Bloom Time:  Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Geographical Location: India, Sri Lanka, and Australia
  • Sun Exposure: Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10-11

‘Delight’ is a popular variety of Vanda orchids that grows quite large. It can be grown without a container or potting medium at all. This epiphyte can truly grow in the air.

This is a great orchid for anyone who is starting out with the species. It is easy to maintain and puts on a beautiful show multiple times during the year. Vandas like a fair amount of sun and heat. They do best in greenhouses when outside of their native zones.

‘Delight’ is truly a delight to observe. This orchid has a strong upright carriage and growth habit. Plentiful, aerial roots hang from well-formed leaves. The flowers are a bright violet, bordering on blue, which is notoriously rare in the plant world.

Sepals and petals are uniform and rounded with a mottled appearance. The lip is small by comparison and it stands out from the center of the flower. An open basket with no potting medium is a great way to grow this orchid.

Final Thoughts

Given a wide array of shades and varying growing conditions, there is a purple orchid for just about any occasion. Once considered a color only for royalty, purple retains its opulence, without the pomp and exclusivity of years long passed.

With a little bit of knowledge and the proper conditions, anyone can become a successful orchid enthusiast. Cultivating these wonderful plants can be an incredibly fulfilling endeavor, paying off in some of the most unique and wonderful flowers you will find.

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