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Orchids of Costa Rica – The Most Complete Guide

Costa Rica is a Central American country that stands out for its flora, and it has a variety of orchid species, approximately more than 1000 species that can be found throughout the territory. Most of the orchids species of Costa Rica are protected, and some plants are threatened due to illegal trade in Costa Rica.

If you need information about Costa Rican Orchids in The Garden Style we will explain the general characteristics of some of its species. We will talk about the famous National Flower of the country and all the kinds of Costa Rican orchids that you can find in the territory.

In addition, you will learn all about the varieties of Costa Rican Orchids will be the best way to learn all about them. If you are interested in information about their care, and cultivation you will find everything you need, orchids are beautiful, colorful plants, and above all ideal for any space, discover a part of orchids around the world!

Characteristics Of Orchids Of Costa Rica

Most Costa Rica orchids species are native plants of the region, which makes them even more impressive. The main characteristic of Costa Rica orchids is that every year it is possible to discover new genera and species, botanists are working in the mountainous areas in search of new orchids endemic to the country.

The Orchidaceae family in Costa Rica includes up to 174 genera of orchids located in Central America. They are plants that mostly have epiphytic habits, so when locating them you should look for them in the trees because they grow on them. However, they are not parasitic plants because they do not feed directly on the plant and therefore do not generate any damage.

Some of the most known species have lithophyte (growing in or on rocks) and terrestrial habits. The terrestrial orchids of Costa Rica need the soil to nourish themselves, many of them do not have pseudobulbs, which is why their leaves are essential for their development in case of drought or nutrient deficiency.

Another general characteristic of orchids of Costa Rica is that many species are in danger of extinction, this is due to two key factors. First, some species require pollination by a single insect, and specimens are disappearing every day due to deforestation of their natural habitat. The Costa Rican government considers orchids as natural wealth and therefore seeks their preservation.

As other orchids have stems and leaves that are wider in the center or point, it is possible to find Costa Rican orchids in a variety of sizes from miniature to larger ones with abundant flowering. As there are many native species of Costa Rica that only grow in this territory, if you want to know the rarest ones, you should visit its national parks.

characteristics of  orchids of costa rica
Costa Rica Orchids.


The flowers of orchids in Costa Rica vary in size and tonality, it is possible to find pure species in white and purple colors it is one of the most abundant colors in most of the species of the country.

Costa Rica Orchids have leaves with a fleshy texture and are larger than other plants.

If we go into the mountainous areas of Costa Rica we can appreciate orchids of bright colors, mainly yellow, orange, and greenish tones. They are plants that bloom in spring, autumn, and even in summer, they give only one bloom per year unlike many hybrids of the most known species used for decorations.

The length of Costa Rica Orchids varies between 8″ and 12″ (20 cm and 30 cm), many plants in the country have a racemose flowering and some of them have citrus aromas that increase in intensity to achieve fertilization through pollination by insects such as bees, wasps, and hummingbirds.

flower costa rica
Orchids Costa Rica.

The National Flower of Costa Rica: Guaria morada

The National Flower of Costa Rica, scientifically known as the Guaria morada, was declared the national symbol of the country in 1939. It was previously classified in the Cattleya genus until it was proven that it did not belong to this type of orchid. Finally, it became a natural wealth of the country, representing the beauty and flora of Costa Rica.

Many people call it the Candelaria Flower because it is one of the most used orchids in the decorations of religious festivities. Moreover, it is not only found in Costa Rica but also in some Central American countries such as Mexico, and Honduras, among others.

The main characteristic of the National Flower of Costa Rica is that it is an epiphyte plant, it has pseudobulbs that botanists describe as narrow and has auxiliary inflorescence. This type of inflorescence produces a raceme on the leaf that will result in orchid blooms.

The popular Guaria morada is a plant that can be found in humid forests, which are characterized by large trees that preserve their leaves and the mountainous forests that are found in most of the territory of Costa Rica. The best thing about the National Flower of Costa Rica is the combination of its shades which vary from purple to pink.

This is one of the country’s orchids with abundant flowering which makes it even more beautiful, the color of the flowers is purple, so it decided to be called Guaira morada because of this aspect. It has long longevity that can last up to a month approximately, and it is a plant that blooms at the beginning of March when it is possible to appreciate the opening of its flowers all over the country.

Types of Costa Rica Orchids

Learn about the different types of orchids of Costa Rica that exist:

Orchids of Costa Rica Epiphyte

In all countries, it is possible to find epiphytic orchids and Costa Rica has many of these types of plants, which seek the best lighting at the height of the trees to achieve the photosynthesis process. They are resistant plants to other kinds of orchids, their roots need a good humidity of the environment and these are hanging. In addition, their flowers are of medium size and have pseudobulbs.

Miniature Costa Rican Orchids

The miniature Costa Rican orchids are one of the most popular and rare in the country, in this group, we find the Draculas genus. They are the ideal orchids for home decorations and although there are few species of miniature orchids in Costa Rica, they are still one of the attractions of the country’s flora. It is possible to cultivate miniature orchids, although it is necessary to select a species apt to survive outside its natural habitat.

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Endemic Costa Rican Orchids

It is said that 20% of the orchid species that exist in Costa Rica are native to the country, which means that it is only possible to appreciate them in the humid mountain forests of Costa Rica.

The endemic orchids of Costa Rica are characterized by their spectacular flowers, of varied colors, mainly purple, and of different sizes. Some specimens have few units in the world, and many times it is difficult to obtain cultivars of them.

Exotic Costa Rican Orchids

In Costa Rica a variety of exotic orchids native to other countries of Central and South America have been found, these can develop perfectly in the country bringing, as a result, the increase of confirmed species in all of Costa Rica. This country due to its climatic conditions became one of the homes of development of a variety of species in the world.

types of costa rica orchids
Costa Rica Orchids Flower.

Species and Varieties Of Orchids Of Costa Rica

Below, we mention the species and varieties of orchids in Costa Rica, we will explain the main characteristics of each one of them:


In Costa Rica it is possible to find one of the most known genera in South and Central America, Brassavola orchids are white flowering plants that have epiphytic, semi-terrestrial habits and some of them are terrestrial. There is a variety of Brassavola species found in Costa Rica, which stand out mainly for increasing the intensity of their aroma at night.

It has pseudobulbs of a length of up to 12″ (30 cm), they are plants of fine leaves of an average length, as for its flowering it is possible to enjoy this orchid at different times of the year such as spring and winter. Many of the species that exist contain in their labellum a different shade than the main flower, the color is yellow.

Brassavola cultivation is simple, there are between 18 species of these orchids and some of them have been reclassified.  Some of the Brassavola that can be found in Costa Rica are: Brassavola venosa, Brassavola acaulis, Brassavola grandiflora.


Cattleya is one of the most beautiful flowering orchids in the world. There is purple or white Cattleya with some orange spots. Also, it is an epiphytic plant found in Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Argentina, among others. Some Cattleya species are considered National Flowers in other countries.

This genus of orchids has a variety of species that are threatened, for this reason, it is common to read that Cattleyas are protected by certain government agencies that prevent the illegal cultivation and sale of these plants.

From the subway stems of Cattleyas arise the pseudobulbs, their leaves are wide and many of them prefer warm climates. For this reason, they should not be subjected to temperatures below 50 °F (10 °C), their flowering occurs in spring, and it is common to observe orchids of this genus in Costa Rican gardens.

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  • They will be shipped bare root (when you receive them, the roots will be dry, this is normal. Orchids are supposed to be completely dry before re-watering. Please soak them for a few minutes in lukewarm water and plant them in a good orchid medium.)
  • Currently these orchids are not in spike or flower, these are small plants. You will love them.


The Dracula genus is one of the rarest orchids in the world and attracts everyone’s attention due to its animal form. They are distributed in Costa Rica, Colombia, and Ecuador, they present a monkey face shape and some of their flowers have a furry texture that gives more realism to the plant.

The Dracula of Costa Rica falls into the group of miniature orchids of the country, a fascinating genus with the most particular flowers of the country’s natural wealth. The leaves are characterized by being large, which function as storage and have elongated spurs.

These orchids have 118 species that can be seen in Central America, but many claims that a large part of the Dracula orchids have not yet been discovered. Unlike other orchids, they do not survive high temperatures and require little lighting for their development. Learn more about Monkey Face Orchid.


Masdevallia orchids is a genus that we can find in Peru, Bolivia, and of course Costa Rica, they present many showy colors, and it is one of the genera with more than 500 species in the world. They are orchids of epiphytic, lithophytic, and terrestrial habits which makes many botanists interested in this genus.

Also, it has long spurs and the particularity of its triangular flower is that it presents a hidden form, its labellum is of another color which gives a different touch to the orchid. If you want to enjoy the blooms of Masdevallia you must wait until summer, where it can provide abundant blooms.


The Oncidium or Dancing Ladies are so named because of the movement of their flowers with the wind, which shows the appearance of a dance. They are one of the Costa Rican Orchids that are characterized by their small flowers ideal for decorations and orchid lovers.

It is possible to find them in the mountainous zones of the country, it is an orchid of easy cultivation and its flowers are yellow with diverse tonalities between light and dark. Because it is one of the wonderful flowers, many people wish to have more than one bloom per year, although this is not possible.

If you want to have an Oncidium at home, you should know that they need humidity, which will allow them to grow and reach their flowering period. They are plants with elongated leaves and stems, they bloom for 3 or 4 weeks depending on the species, and in the market, you can find a variety of hybrids.

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  • You will get 5 orchid plants (please see sample picture for a size reference, however some can be slightly smaller or bigger)
  • They will be shipped bare root (when you receive them, the roots will be dry, this is normal. Orchids are supposed to be completely dry before re-watering. Please soak them for a few minutes in lukewarm water and plant them in a good orchid medium.)
  • Currently these orchids are not in spike or flower, these are small plants. You will love them. Oncidiums and dendrobiums will give flowers within 1 year. Vandas will take 2 to 3 years
species varieties costa rican orchid
Orchids Costa Rica Flower.

How To Grow Costa Rican Orchids

To achieve successful cultivation, it is necessary to know each of the needs of the Costa Rica orchids, this will depend on this to obtain the most beautiful blooms of the plant in the future. Follow these basic tips:

When buying an orchid, we must look for the right place to place them, it is recommended to locate it near a window where it can receive good lighting, but without burning its leaves. The ideal temperature for orchids in Costa Rica is warm and cold, and this is a country with both temperature variations.

Make sure it gets a good humidity, we recommend evaluating the irrigation of this will depend on the growth of the orchid. Many people exceed the amount of watering which results in root rot, and use the best substrate for cultivation mainly pine bark, charcoal, and moss.

If you have any questions, at The Garden Style we have complete articles that will help you with the integral care of your orchid.

We hope this article about the orchids of Costa Rica will be useful. We recommend our articles about Mexican Orchids, Venezuelan Orchids, and Colombian Orchids.

Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Dressler, Robert L. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
how to grow costa rican orchids
Flowers of Costa Rica.

About Henry Morgan

Henry Morgan is an agronomist horticulture founder of The Garden Style Company and The Garden Style Website. He previously worked for Mondelēz International as an Agronomist Engineer specializing in agricultural products management in highly populated areas. In 2000, Henry started working with farmer-producers in agricultural businesses selling wholesale fresh produce and retail plants in Van Buren, Arkansas. Nowadays, Henry lives in California, where he offers expert consulting services for organic vegetable gardening. As a science writer working with his wife, Julia, Henry shares his passion for gardening and farming, trying to reach and teach as many folks as possible.

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