“Do orchids have a scent?” is a common orchid query, and fortunately, the answer is yes, they do. This revelation often surprises those who admire these stunning plants mainly for their visual beauty.Do Orchids Have a Scent

But also note that a few orchids produce a foul smell, which is unbearable. So come along to know which orchids to pick for gardens and which ones to avoid.

Do Orchids Have a Scent?

💥 Yes, orchids do have a scent. It’s not all just for our benefit, though. These pleasing scents are crucial to the orchid’s survival as they attract pollinators. They’ve evolved to create scents to help them thrive and reproduce. These enchanting fragrances attract specific pollinators, ensuring the plant’s survival and propagation.


But what do orchids smell like? From sweet floral fragrances to musky, spicy undertones, the world of orchids offers a delightful aroma. Believe it or not, some also smell like roses, chocolate, vanilla, peach, or coconut.

Ever wondered- what does orchid smell like in perfume? When it comes to perfume, the term ‘orchid’ refers to a fantasy or abstract idea. The reason is simple. Orchids have a wide range of fragrances.

Orchid fragrance in a perfume is usually associated with being light, exotic, and incredibly luxurious. It is often considered a sophisticated, elegant, and somewhat mysterious fragrance.

Please keep in mind that not every orchid is fragrant. Some orchids fill the air with their intoxicating scent, while others are scentless. They rely on their vibrant colors and unique shapes to invite pollinators.

Also, many fragrant orchids do not release scent the whole day. There are specific times.

– When an Orchid Smells the Best?

Orchids are like people; they each have their schedule. Some orchids like to share their scent during the day, while others prefer the nighttime. For example, many orchids, like Oncidiums, release their sweet smell when the sun is up. You’d smell these when playing in the garden on a sunny day.

But other orchids, like Brassavola and Cattleya walkeriana, like the night. These orchids start to share their scent when the sun goes down, and it’s time for bed. So, if you go out in your garden on a warm night, you might smell something unique!

There are also orchids like Maxillaria that only smell at certain times. Maybe they’ll only smell when they’re first blooming, or perhaps only when they’re fully grown. Similarly, a blue orchid smells during its growing season.

Which Orchids Have a Scent? A Few Popular Names!

Many orchids have a scent, but Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, Brassavola, and Oncidium are the most popular. The aromas vary from orchid to orchid. Some are sweet and fruity, while others can feel rich and spicy. In addition, orchids also emit scent at different times of the day or year.

1. Swan Orchids

The Swan or Wine Delight orchid is a variant of the slipper orchid and is considered an exceptional plant. It has a cool name, and that’s because it has a captivating color. It’s a beautiful dark red, just like a glass of red wine.Scent of Swan Orchids

This orchid has a powerful and sweet fragrance that some say smells like grapes or ripe cherries.

The Swan Orchid is also pretty big. Each flower can grow to be about four inches wide. It usually blooms in the fall, and its flowers can last about a month.

2. Phalaenopsis

People ask us, “Do Phalaenopsis orchids have a scent? Not all Phalaenopsis orchids have a scent. It depends on the type of Phalaenopsis orchid you’re talking about.

One type of Phalaenopsis orchid/white orchid that does have a scent is the Phalaenopsis violacea. So, what do white orchids smell like? This one has a fascinating smell. It’s warm and spicy, like a kitchen during the holiday season.

Another type of Phalaenopsis that has a scent is the Phalaenopsis bellina. This one is very different from the violence. It has a sweet and fruity smell that will remind you of tropical summer.

And then there’s the Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi. This orchid’s scent is extraordinary. It’s been described as sweet and earthy, like honey mixed with fresh soil. It’s a calming and comforting smell, great for a quiet, relaxing day at home.

3. Dendrobium kingianum

Next up, we have Dendrobium. It’s a lot smaller, and its flowers are usually pink or purple. This orchid’s perfume is extraordinary too. It’s been described as sweet and spicy, almost like honey. Note that it blooms in the fall. But its flowers can last even longer, sometimes up to two months!

4. Cocoa Orchid

Have you ever pondered, “Do purple orchids have a scent?” The purple-flowered Cocoa or Encyclia cordigera does have. Some people say this orchid smells like honey. Others think it smells like vanilla.

The coconut orchid, Maxillariella tenuifolia is another fragrant plant. As the name suggests, it smells like fresh coconuts.

Maxillaria tenuifolia is also a tough little plant. It likes a lot of light but can also handle lower light conditions. It’s not too picky about temperature, which makes the Coconut orchid an excellent choice for beginners or anyone who wants an easy-care plant with a fantastic scent.

5. Neofinetia Falcata/Vanda Falcata

This orchid has been described as having a sweet, floral fragrance. Some people say it reminds them of Jasmine. Others think it’s more like a sweet, ripe fruit. It usually releases its scent in the evening or at night, making it a perfect addition to your bedroom or living room for a pleasant nighttime aroma.

6. Oncidium Species

The Oncidium orchid varieties, such as the Oncidium Sharry Baby, Oncidium Twinkle, and Oncidium cheirophorum, are loved for their powerful fragrances. These orchids are a true sensory delight with their chocolate to sweet vanilla aromas.

7. Rhynchostylis Gigantea

The Rhynchostylis, known as the Foxtail orchid, is famous for its citrusy scent. It’s a rich, uplifting smell that can fill a whole room. It has big and bold flowers that can be red, pink, orange, or even white with beautiful spots. So, it’s a real eye-catcher!

8. Brassavola Nodosa

The Brassavola, or as it’s often called, the “Lady of the Night” orchid, is a natural night owl. It has lovely greenish-white flowers that are shaped like stars. But the real magic happens at night (this is when the Brassavola releases its scent).

This orchid has a strong, sweet smell that’s been compared to freesias or even the perfume of fancy soap. It’s vital to note that not all orchid fragrances are appealing. Occasionally, an orchid might smell bad for a few reasons, which you should also know.

When Do Orchids Start to Smell Bad?

Orchids can start to smell bad due to bacterial or fungal infections, after applying pesticides, or a lack of regular cleaning in the garden. Sometimes, potting mix decay also emits a foul odor. Take the bad smell as a sign that your orchid needs extra care.

– Bacterial and Fungal Diseases

A foul smell is often a sign that something’s not quite right. In the case of your orchid, it could mean it’s sick.Fungal Diseases in Orchids

Bacteria and fungus love damp, stuffy environments, so if your orchid is in a spot that’s too wet or doesn’t get enough fresh air, it could easily pick up an infection. When this happens, you will notice a bad smell. You might also start asking yourself, “Why does my orchid smell like rotten eggs?”

Here are some care tips to help keep your orchid healthy and smelling good:

  • Pruning: Prune and dispose of any affected plant parts. It will help stop the disease from spreading further.
  • Improve Air Circulation: Overcrowding plants can lead to higher humidity levels, encouraging the growth of bacteria and fungi. Ensuring enough space between your plants allows for proper air circulation.
  • Avoid Overwatering: Both bacteria and fungi thrive in moist conditions. Water your plants according to their needs, and ensure the soil has excellent drainage to prevent waterlogging.
  • Disinfect: Clean your gardening tools with bleach after dealing with infected plants.
  • Use Disease-Resistant Varieties: If a particular disease is prevalent in your area, consider growing disease-resistant plant varieties.
  • Fungicide/Bactericide: Use a suitable fungicide or bactericide according to the package directions. Some diseases may require specific treatments, so do your research or consult with a local extension service or nursery.

– Decomposing Potting Mix

The smell can also originate from a decomposing potting mix, which needs to be replaced promptly. Additionally, stagnant water and rotting organic matter create a breeding ground for bacteria, resulting in a nasty smell.

– After Applying Pesticides

Orchids can also emit a foul smell after applying pesticides, especially if they are not adequately watered or aired out afterward. The chemicals might also cause damage to the plant’s cells, which can release unpleasant smells.Applying Pesticides to Orchids

Always follow the instructions on the label and basic orchid care measures to prevent this issue. Try using less pesticide, or look for a brand with a milder smell. You can also go for natural pest control methods, like introducing beneficial insects into your garden.

– Not Cleaning the Garden

Leaves, flowers, and other parts fall onto the ground anytime. They can start to decompose if you leave them on the floor for days. This rot can create a foul smell that can affect your orchid. Also, decaying plant material can attract pests and diseases, making your orchid smell even worse.

So what can you do? Well, regular garden cleanups are a must.

  • Remove fallen leaves, dead flowers, and debris from your garden regularly. It will help prevent rot and keep your garden smelling fresh.
  • It’s also good to check your orchid regularly for signs of disease or pests.
  • Clean your garden tools regularly with hydrogen peroxide solution to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Also, don’t let weeds grow. They compete with your plants for resources and invite pathogens to attack. Pull them out manually or use a weeding tool for stubborn ones. For larger areas, consider using a safe herbicide.

Important point: Stagnant water can breed mosquitoes and algae. Regularly clean out bird baths or fountains to keep them fresh and safe for wildlife.

Which Orchids Have a Naturally Bad Smell?

A few orchid species naturally produce foul odors, and the most popular ones are the Bulbophyllum species, like Bulbophyllum beccarii, Bulbophyllum echinolabium, Bulbophyllum orientale, and Bulbophyllum psychoon. Their scent feels like something is decomposing or rotting nearby, which is why pets also hate these orchids.

1. Bulbophyllum Beccarii

The Bulbophyllum beccarii is one of the most fragrant orchids – but not in a way you’d typically appreciate. Its smell resembles that of decaying leaves. You may not like the odor, but it can attract carrion flies for pollination.

2. Bulbophyllum Echinolabium

The Bulbophyllum echinolabium is infamous for its smell, often compared to rotting meat. While this might not be enjoyable for us, it’s a magnet for specific pollinators.

3. Bulbophyllum Orientale

Then there’s the Bulbophyllum orientale, which naturally emits a strong, musty odor. This scent, though unpleasant to us, and your pets may dislike it too.Growing Bulbophyllum Orientale

4. Bulbophyllum Psychoon

Lastly, the Bulbophyllum psychoon emits a smell often described as unpleasant or musty. This unique scent plays a vital role in the plant’s reproduction strategy, attracting specific pollinators to its flowers. Remember- each orchid scent plays a critical role in the survival of these beautiful plants.


In conclusion, orchids truly are nature’s aromatic marvels. From colorful displays to captivating fragrances, they offer an enchanting sensory experience. Let’s revise the key points discussed above:

  • Orchid fragrances can be sweet, fruity, spicy, and overall rich.
  • Certain orchids are more fragrant at specific times, often coinciding with their peak bloom period.
  • While some smells are delightful, an off-putting odor might indicate a problem like bacterial or fungal infection, overuse of pesticides, or insufficient garden cleanliness.
  • We can enjoy their visual beauty and aromatic charms by understanding and properly caring for these fascinating plants.

Whether you’re an orchid enthusiast or just beginning your journey, it’s clear that these plants offer an extraordinary world of fragrance to explore. So, grow them properly and enjoy the fragrant journey!

5/5 - (15 votes)