Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection

Orchid Greenhouse Orchid Greenhouse 2 Orchid Greenhouse 3 Orchid Greenhouse 4

The Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection (SGOC) has grown from five plants to over 8,000 specimens since 1974. It is an invaluable resource for educational programs, exhibitions, and scientific research. It is maintained in the Smithsonian Gardens Greenhouse Facility in Suitland, Maryland by staff, interns, and volunteers.

The SGOC received accreditation from the Plant Collections Network in January 2014, making it the first member of the Orchidaceae tropical species curatorial group. The conferral of this award indicates Smithsonian Gardens’ dedication to orchid conservation and high collections management standards. Smithsonian Gardens strives to cultivate an extremely diverse array of orchids from all over the world. Not only are new acquisitions selected carefully based on their display quality, educational value, beauty, rarity and how they complement our present collection, but consideration is also given to how new additions will further the efforts of the Plant Collections Network.

The Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection is currently well represented in New World genera such as Cattleya, Encyclia, Laelia, Brassavola, Epidendrum, Isochilus and Sobralia as well as Maxillaria, Lycaste, Oncidium, Brassia, Miltoniopsis and a wide array of Pleurothallids. Australian and Asian species of Dendrobium and Bulbophyllum are another area of specialty. Other Sarcanthine orchids include a large and varied group of Vanda and Ascocenda hybrids and a significant selection of African Angraecoids, many of which are quite rare in cultivation.

Some of the most popular plants are the collections of Cymbidium and Phalaenopsis hybrids. Their many flowered inflorescences and bright colors make for spectacular displays.

North American Orchid Conservation Center

A look at some of the most beautiful and imperiled orchids of North America, and what a team of ecologists led by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the U.S. Botanic Garden is doing to save them.

Collaborating Partners

Plant Collections NetworkPlant Collections Network

Smithsonian Gardens joined the ranks of the Plant Collections Network in January 2014, the first of many public gardens joining together to coordinate the preservation of Orchidaceae in a network of documented plant collections.

North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC) North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC)

Established in part by the Smithsonian Institution, the North American Orchid Conservation Center is working to assure the survival of native orchids throughout the United States and Canada.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International logoBotanic Gardens Conservation International

Smithsonian Gardens contributes to BGCI’s Plant Search, a worldwide database of living plant, seed and tissue collections.

Encyclopedia of Life logoEncyclopedia of Life

Follow the link to see how Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection is contributing to EOL’s orchid pages. Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection and the Encyclopedia of Life.

United States Botanic Garden logoUnited States Botanic Garden (USBG)

Each year, Smithsonian Gardens and the United States Botanic Garden work together to bring a beautiful orchid exhibit to the mall. The location alternates between the USBG and the National Museum of Natural History.

Orchid Collections Search

Browse The Orchid Collection

Information about the Orchid Collection is now accessible to the public online via the Smithsonian Collections Search Center. Search specimens using a variety of search options such as name, taxonomy, flower color, or range and explore videos about orchid conservation, judging orchid shows, the annual exhibit installation and other related topics.

2017 Orchid Exhibition

orchids: A MOMENT

orchids: A MOMENT

January 14 to May 14, 2017 at the Hishhorn

The Smithsonian Gardens and United States Botanic Garden 2017 Orchid Exhibition, showcases over 100 orchids in a limited-time display amidst the Hirshhorn’s unique architecture. Selected from the collections of both Smithsonian Gardens and the U.S. Botanic Garden, these stunning blooms are presented as colorful time-based installations, constantly changing throughout the exhibition’s four-month run. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the exotic assemblage as a whole as well as each orchid as it stands in that moment, and return again and again to enjoy the display as it evolves. Experience your own moment knowing there will never be another one exactly like it.

Click here to see more details

Orchid Family Day

Visitors of all ages are invited to explore the world of orchids and hands-on at the free “Family Day: From a Moment to Infinity” in the Hirshhorn lobby, Sunday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Smithsonian Gardens, Hirshhorn and United States Botanical Garden will team up for a day of family-friendly activities inspired by orchids: A MOMENT and the Hirshhorn exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.

3D Orchid Tour

3D Orchid

The Embreea orchid revealed

Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection is proud to have participated in and contributed to the Smithsonian’s 3D Digital Charter collection by providing access to some of its rarest and most interesting orchids. The link below leads to a dynamic digital tour of a high definition scan of our prized, award-winning Embreea orchid, and its pollinator, a type of Orchid Bee. This outstanding tour will take you deep inside this amazing orchid and give intimate insight into its complex and fascinating relationship with its insect partner.

View The Tour

More About Orchids


Orchids Around Us

Use the lessons in this package to learn about specific types of orchids, their appearance, habitats, uses, cultural significance and history.

Orchid illustrationOrchid Culture Sheets

Learn about effective orchid culture for some of the most popular genera in cultivation.

Go Orchids

Search Native Orchids

NAOCC’s newest tool to explore native orchids of the United States and Canada.