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There are two main growth types in orchids Sympodial (multiple stem) and the Monopodial (single stem). In order to grow orchids successfully, it’s important to understand each type of growth so that you can treat them correctly.

The first growth type is sympodial. This growth type is more common among orchids. Most sympodial orchids have pseudobulbs which function as storage reservoirs for food and water. The plant will hold pseudobulbs vertically and send out new growth horizontally between the pseudobulbs. They function very much like rhizomes on terrestrial plants. Many times more than one growth at a time will be present.

The growth begins at the base of the pseudobulb and is called a “lead.” Both the shoot and roots will grow from this lead. Leaves can last for several years and provide nourishment to the plant until they turn brown and die. Even without a leaf, the pseudobulb will continue to support the plant.

Examples of sympodial orchids are Cattleya, Paphiopedilum, Oncidium, and Dendrobium.

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