Orchid Books for Beginners and Books for Orchid Enthusiasts

Throughout the orchid care section of this site I have placed a few examples of good quality orchid books for sale. Depending on how keen you are to develop your skills and knowledge, buying a good book is always a good investment in yourself. With a plant group such as orchids – so vast and varied in form and requirements – research and knowledge are the keys to success.

The first orchid books I learned from were very formal and academic in nature – I have a professional background in horticulture. Thankfully today, writers have realized the benefit of making things a little less intimidating and more suited to a wider audience. Here I want to give a few short reviews and recommendations of some of the books I have found – I hope there is something to suit both the novice and the intermediate orchid enthusiast.

I have divided them into two groups:

Orchid Books for Beginners

Here I was looking for the basic points of interest from the orchid types available to the orchid care and maintenance they require. Nothing too technical and yet thorough enough to be worth the money and most importantly, in language that is easy to understand. Check out these two:-

 1. Orchids for Dummies

– by Steven A. Frowine

I have to admit a certain bias here – I am a big fan of the “For Dummies” series and I own them in several different subjects. I have usually found them great when starting out in any subject – easy language, basic yet covering all the important information.

This book follows on in the same style as the others. Expect it to give you a good start to enjoying orchids. Not great for identifying orchids you may already have, it deals more with the care of orchids and gives a great run down of the needs of the main types of orchids you are likely to buy. Thorough and informative this is great for beginners and people with a little experience of orchid growing. Only experts or really keen enthusiasts would be disappointed and only in terms of the depth of study of the many more obscure varieties of orchid. I think the information is very accurate and delivered in a clear and easy way.

If you want really detailed descriptions and histories of the development of orchids, or lots of pictures then this one is not for you. If you need to learn the basics and a little more, then this gets my vote.

350 Plus pages of relevant information. I particularly like the section called “The Part of Tens” it covers the ten easiest orchids to grow, the ten most common ways they are killed and the ten most frequently asked questions … and more. As I said I like the Dummies style of book and this one ticked all my boxes for beginners and intermediate growers.

You can buy this book here and also view more reviews from people who have purchased this book.

orchids for dummies

 2. Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World’s Most Exotic Plants

– by William Cullina.

My other choice for beginners and intermediate growers of orchids. I was not familiar with this book until fairly recently – it caught my attention because of its popularity on Amazon and the reviews it has received. Again the language is simple and yet it covers the main points in great detail. Probably a prettier looking book than the Dummies Guide and with more pictures. The writer talks in an easy, conversational tone and presents things clearly and concisely.

Over 270 pages and covers all bases. Again not really considered a reference for digging into the obscure varieties of orchid plants or for identification purposes. If I was not such a sucker for the “Dummies” this would be my top pick. Not much between the two in terms of content but they do differ in style. On price alone the Orchids for Dummies has it – it is quite a bit cheaper. I recommend you look at both and see what you think.

You can buy – Understanding Orchids here and of course read reviews.

understanding orchids book

Top tip – when looking at some books on Amazon you can click on the picture to “look inside the book” – it gives a good sample of the book and can give an idea as to the style of the book in question – try it out.


Orchid Books for True Orchid Enthusiasts.

You have passed the stage of raising your first orchid plants and want to learn more about this amazing group of plants. Or perhaps you are an avid reader and plant lover looking for a great late night read. I have selected these two books in particular for the more advanced orchid lover. The primary difference between these books and the books I recommended for the beginner is that these are considered true reference books. More concerned with the plant species itself rather than simply the best way to care for them although there is a bit of overlap. See what you think.

 The New Encyclopedia of Orchids: 1500 Species in Cultivation

– by I. F. La Croix

This is my top pick for the more dedicated orchid lovers. The main thing to realize about this book is its value as a reference guide for identifying orchid plants. The detail it goes in to is perfect to try and sort out exactly which orchid types you are working with – a major problem for many people. It has beautiful color photographs of many of the plants and detailed descriptions right down to flower sizes and forms. It is truly an encyclopedia – 524 pages of detail. Not the best choice for learning how to care for orchids as only the first 25 pages are dedicated to the culture of orchids. The rest of the book is organized as an A to Z of orchids.

Check out the great reviews on Amazon.

I think this book is perfect as a reference manual and for people who have a genuine desire to learn more about the plants. Quite expensive but well worth the money it will make a great gift for any orchid enthusiast.

orchids new encyclopedia

 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Orchids

– by Alec Pridgeon

Once again not really a book for beginners, more a reference and identification book. As such this book does a good job, great detail, descriptions and pictures. It is quite a bit cheaper than the book above by La Croix and is sold in the paperback format. In my opinion it comes quite a distant second best. The orchid growing and care section is very limited and not really useful to anyone – beginner or expert. It deals almost exclusively with the details of many different orchid species but very few of the more commonly grown hybrids we see in modern plant centers. A little disappointing in that respect but still a nice book, well presented and with many great pictures. If your budget is a little tighter this is still a good reference book to have on your shelf. Click the picture to view.

illustrated orchid guide

 The Wild Card.


– by Harold Feinstein and Robert H.Hesse

I had to include this book just for the beauty of the pictures of orchids. I am afraid to admit it really is a coffee table type book. As far as learning goes, it does not contain much – but the pictures will blow away any admirer of the beautiful orchids of the world. A great gift for a gardener!

orchidelirium orchid book

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