A Guide to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is the largest botanic garden within a U.S. city. Regardless of when you visit, there’s usually a special exhibit or show happening. Since 2002, the NYBG has been putting on a popular Orchid Show that has awed everyone who sees it. While the NYBG did not have the full exhibition in 2021 due to COVID-19, the Orchid Show is back for the 2022 season.

A Guide to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

Running from the end of February through the beginning of May, the Orchid Show offers a stunning display of various orchid varieties and colors in beautiful and sometimes surreal arrangements made almost entirely of flowers. Each year, the NYBG brings a renowned florist to design the exhibits based around a central theme. The 2022 theme is Kaleidoscope, and previous years’ themes included Singapore at Night, Thailand, Orchid Delirium, and much more.

Why Orchids?

You’ve probably seen orchids pop up in stores as the weather gets warmer. Often associated with spring, these beautiful flowers are one of the largest families of flower plants in the world and can be found natively in almost every continent, except Antarctica. Thanks to its general hardiness and diversity in color, shape, and size, more than 100,000 orchid hybrids and cultivars have been produced by horticulturists.

A Guide to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

The variety in orchids make them a perfect plant for floral arrangements. While most orchids tend to have similar shapes, the variety of patterns, colors, and more make them wonderful additions to most gardens. The living sculptures created during the Orchid Show display the multi-color diversity of these flowers while also highlighting each flower so that its silhouette stands out against other orchids.

A Guide to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

Although orchids might be one of the largest families of flower plants, there are many varieties that are rare and in danger of extinction. The Orchid Show is not only meant to delight the senses, but also to drum up interest in the flower and help fund continuing research into these extraordinary plants. Currently, there are more than 28,000 different species of orchids, with scientists finding more every year. The NYBG has more than 2,000 different types in their permanent collection from regions around the world.

A Guide to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show
What is the Orchid Show?

As the name suggests, it’s an exhibit focused solely on orchids. Held every year in the Enid A. Haupt Observatory, the show brings on talented floral designers to create living sculptures centered around a common theme. The show utilizes the NYBG’s already-existing orchid collection and brings in thousands of other species to round out the experience.

A Guide to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

While each year’s show offers a different experience, you can expect to be dazzled by an array of colors, scents, and sculptures. Each designer brings a different vision to the show with some being more traditional and others offering more abstract exhibits. While the 2020 exhibit was cut short and the 2021 show was pared down to just an Orchid Spotlight, the 2022 show is expected to be one of the most popular shows yet.

A Guide to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

Jeff Leatham, the designer for the 2020 Kaleidoscope show that was cut short, brings back the theme, but has reinvented it to be even more exciting and interesting. It will feature towers of orange, yellow, and green with fields of white and purple overhead as well as a kaleidoscopic tunnel of lights. Leatham’s hope with his exhibit is that “visitors will appreciate the beauty of orchids and see the NYBG’s conservatory in exciting new ways.”

Things to Do at the Orchid Show

The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is around 55,000 square feet, with the 2022 Kaleidoscope Orchid Show taking up around 30,000 square feet. You can spend hours enjoying the beauty of the sculptures and flowers during the show, but the conservatory itself has 11 distinct pavilions with each housing groups of plants from different environments such as deserts, the tropics, and more. During the Orchid Show, orchids are incorporated into these existing collections.

A Guide to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

Besides enjoying the beautiful orchid displays during the day, there are also Orchid Evenings at night for adults. During these events you can enjoy some music, have some drinks, and snack on light bites. The NYBG teams up with renowned musicians and local choreographers for a fun and exciting night. It’s a great way to experience the Orchid Show in a different light and is a fun idea for date night. As you might expect, Orchid Evenings tend to be very popular, so it’s a good idea to reserve your seat well in advance.

If you want more family-friendly activities, the NYBG offers programming that will help you care for orchids on your own. You can take either the orchid basics Q&A or orchid care demonstrations. These demonstrations happen on the weekends, making it perfect for a family outing. If you’re a photographer, you’re in luck as the garden offers two hours on a specific date only for photographers to take pictures. It’s the only time you’re allowed to bring a tripod to the exhibit, so take advantage of it!

Of course, once you’re “finished” with the Orchid Show, you have the rest of the garden to discover. The NYBG is one of the largest in the United States and has its own small train system so you can travel around the grounds easier. If you visit in March or April, you’ll be able to experience the garden in bloom for the spring!

Check out the Orchid Show at the NYBG
A Guide to the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show

The Orchid Show is one of the most anticipated events for New York City residents every year. You don’t have to be a plant lover to enjoy the beauty of these amazing living sculptures. Due to its popularity, you should reserve your tickets in advance as you might not be able to get into the exhibit if you wait until the last minute. The NYBG is located in the Bronx, and you can get to the gardens by the Metro North Harlem line from Grand Central Station or via bus or subway.