A Hybrid is the cross between two different named orchids. This is the natural way to produce plants, but it is done in a controlled environment with great care to make sure that the selected plants will produce the best offspring. The resulting seeds are harvested and grown to blooming size. When you buy a hybrid, there is no guarantee that it will look just like others of the same cross. It could be similar or it could be completely different. No two plants will be exactly alike. Some may be really beautiful and others ungainly or badly formed, you never know until it reaches maturity.
A hybrid can be an intergeneric hybrid, a cross between two related genus, or a primary hybrid between two different members of the same species. For example, Oncidium Twinkle is a cross between Oncidium cheirophorum and Oncidium ornithorhynchum (listed on the tag as Oncidium cheirophorum x Onc. ornithorhynchum). The “x” shows that it is a cross. A natural hybrid is a naturally occuring hybrid between two species.
An intergeneric hybrid is a cross between two related species – such as Sophronitis and Cattleya. The hybrid is referred to as Sophrocattleya (or Sc. on the label). There are also complex hybrids with three different genera such as Sophrolaeliacattleya (or Slc. on the tag). For a listing of the intergeneric hybrids currently registered, please visit The Orchid House.
Many orchid enthusiasts who want to exhibit their orchids will buy hybrids and grow them to blooming size so that they can name and receive awards on hybrids. If such a plant is awarded, you can name the specific plant. One of my dreams is to someday have four flowers awarded so that I can name them after my grandchildren.
It is also an interesting exercise to grow several plants of the same cross to see the difference in the flowers that they will exhibit. If you have space to do so you should try it at least once. The plant size and growth habit as well as the flowers can be different as well.