Flowering potted orchids has become one of the largest segments of floriculture worldwide. Large-scale production of cuts or potted plants exists in China, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. Despite the value of orchids, the flowering physiology of most orchid genera is not well described. Therefore, scheduling flowering crops for specific market dates (such as Easter or Mother's Day) is not possible for most genera. This paper summarizes world orchid production and reviews how environmental factors regulate growth and flowering of several commercially important orchid genera: Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Miltoniopsis, Phalaenopsis, and Zygopetalum. These genera primarily flower in response to relatively low temperatures, and, for some species and hybrids, flowering is promoted when the plants are also exposed to short photoperiods. Effects of light and temperature on growth and development are summarized for these genera, and implications for controlled production are discussed.