Scales and Tales

Orchids — Nature's Eye Candy

When you think of orchids in nature, what conjures in your mind - lush rainforests, exotic locations, and wedding boutonnieres? There are over 20,000 different kinds of orchids, not including countless thousands of hybrid varieties. Orchids live in on every continent of the world except Antarctica. This diverse and surprisingly hardy flowering plant comes in many shapes and sizes. We even have native orchids here in South Dakota. The flower of each variety has a unique and delicate character that is fascinating to the eye. Read on to discover just a few of the most common types of orchids.

Cattleya Orchids: Derived largely from South America, these orchids typically have large showy blooms and are probably what most people think of when picturing an orchid flower, as they are otherwise known as the Corsage Orchid. They have a shorter bloom length than some of their relatives and are generally found in lavenders and whites.

Phalaenopsis Orchids: These orchids are found throughout Southeast Asia and are one of the most common orchids sold today. Many hybrids have been created that adapt well to home environments. Bloom length can be up to three months and common colors are white, purple, pink and yellow. This orchid is commonly known as a Moth Orchid.

Cymbidium Orchids: "Boat Orchids" are native to Asia and northern Australia and were one of the first orchids to be cultivated. They are a little more tolerant to colder temperatures and will bloom from winter into spring. Colors include, but aren't limited to: white, green, yellowish-green, cream, brown and red.

Dendrobium Orchids: These are diverse group common to Southeast Asia, found growing in tropical lowlands and in higher altitudes. There are approximately 1,200 species making them one of the largest of the orchid groups. Common names for these popular plants are Bamboo Orchid and Singapore Orchid. Bloom length is approximately 8 to 10 weeks and common colors are white, purple, yellow, green and varying shades of pink.

Oncidium Orchids: The "Dancing Lady" can be found in South America, northern Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of south Florida. They put on quite a show with their long flower spikes containing dozens of blooms. Blooms last approximately 2 to 4 weeks and they are most commonly found in golden tones and yellow with shades of brown. The popular Chocolate Orchid is an Oncidium, which got its name not from its color but for its fragrance.

Paphiopedelium Orchids: This orchid, also known as the "Lady Slipper," is often identified by the unique shape of the flower petals. These beauties come from a huge area in the Old World, including India and China through Indonesia and the Philippines to New Guinea. Colors range from white to brilliant red, with everything in between. The Lady Slipper grows glossy foliage and large blooms that can last for months, making this orchid a favorite among many.

Miltonia Orchids: Miltonias are warm-growing orchids which come from Brazil. The flowers vary in colors - red, white, yellow and pink with different colored markings. The "Pansy Orchid" is one of the most fragrant of the orchids, making it a favorite for growing at home.

No matter what your orchid preference, this flower offers something for everyone. With a huge range of colors and shapes, and a history that transcends continents and time, it's no wonder a beautiful orchid can capture your eye, and bring you a feeling of Zen. Visit the Sky Dome at Reptile Gardens, and be transported to a world of lush and exotic orchids, anytime!



Things To Do

Main Exhibits




Animal Facts



Native to South Dakota


Botanical Gardens


About Us

Privacy Policy

Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch Funtier Town

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing, go on a 3D safari, or test your aim at the shooting gallery! Our very own old west ghost town has numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

Don't miss your chance to Pet a Python!  Our snake handlers ar here to talk about any questions or myths you've heard about snakes. Don't forget your camera! Our pythons are very photogenic and love to photos with you!