Oncidium Orchid Care. Oncidiums are well-liked indoor orchids for a good reason—their massive flower sprays frequently droop with numerous blossoms. These orchids have been given the common moniker “dancing lady” because of their drastically altered ruffled blooms. There are actually several hundred Oncidium species that have been identified, but because the names are not stable, there is a lot of flux as specialists redefine plants. New variations are frequently introduced because they are easily hybridized. 1
The most popular oncidium orchids thrive in typical indoor environments. Large pseudobulbs (a swollen, bulbous region of the stem) sprout from a profusion of skinny white roots on these plants. The enormous leaves grow from the pseudobulbs and can reach a maximum length of two feet. Oncidiums usually bloom in the autumn.
Oncidium Orchid Care Guide
Oncidium orchids prefer more sunshine than other genera of orchids because they are by nature epiphytic plants that live on tree bark rather than in soil. You can get the right quantity of light by putting them in an east, west, or south-facing window with a sheer curtain.
Oncidiums, notably the Phalaenopsis, are far more tolerant of bright or direct light than other common orchids. Even though they can tolerate bright to very bright settings, oncidiums actually prefer direct morning light. They often prefer the same kind of light that orchids of the Dendrobium genus do.
Because they are epiphytic plants, oncidium orchids are typically potted in a bark-based potting medium rather than regular soil or potting mix. This medium, which is sometimes advertised as orchid mix, has excellent drainage.
Although the water requirements of different Oncidium species vary slightly, most require watering every two to ten days during the growing season. When compared to plants with thin leaves, those with thicker leaves and roots can receive less watering. When the growing media is halfway dry, use lukewarm or room temperature water.
However, exercise caution because drainage must come first. The potting medium needs to drain completely freely.
Humidity and temperature
Oncidiums can be found in a variety of settings, from chilly, misty cloud forests to semi-arid subtropical lowlands. At night, the temperature should be between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and during the day, it should be between 80 and 85 degrees. If these high temperatures are accompanied by increased humidity and air circulation, temperatures as high as 95 to 100 degrees can be tolerated. 2
The ideal range for humidity is between 30 and 60%. In areas with cold, dry winter air, it might be challenging to maintain the right humidity, so using a room humidifier—or setting the pot on a shallow dish of water filled with pebbles—is advised.
Feed weak orchid fertilizer every two months during the growing season, or sprinkle slow-release pellets in the growing medium at the start of the growing season. For bark-based potting mix, a 30-10-10 formulation is a suitable option; for wood slabs, use a 20-20-20 recipe. Despite the fact that there are numerous species, a plant will often feed more frequently the larger it is.
Oncidium Orchid Types
Oncidium orchids are readily accessible in the hundreds. The most common species are:
Additionally, there are a lot of hybrids—crosses between different Oncidium species—available. Despite the fact that oncidiums are most famous for their yellow blossoms, there are different types. Because of its sprays of brownish blooms with a strong cocoa aroma, Oncidium “Sharry Baby” is also known as the “chocolate orchid.”
When your orchid stops flowering, give the blooms time to naturally fall off and let the stem completely wither before pruning. Orchids that have been pruned may produce a second flower stalk, however annual blooms are more usual.
Growing Oncidium Orchids
Numerous oncidiums grow into fairly large plants and generate huge clumps of pseudobulbs. When repotting, they are simple to separate into clumps. 3 Just make sure each division contains at least three pseudobulbs. This is how you do it:
The plant should be carefully removed from its pot and divided into pieces with at least three pseudobulbs each.
Replant each in a separate container with a growing media made of bark.
Spraying planted divisions is advised before watering them until fresh root growth is evident. They can now be watered in the same manner as mature plants.
Growing Oncidium Orchids From Seed
Orchid seed propagation is a difficult process that is typically only carried out by professionals or extremely dedicated amateurs. Special materials and closely monitored conditions are needed. In order to achieve artificial germination, conditions must resemble those found in a lab, as seeds can only germinate in nature when they interact intricately with mycorrhizal soil fungi. When vegetative multiplication by straightforward division is very simple, few amateurs are ready to spend months getting seeds to sprout and sometimes years nurturing the seedlings into flowering plants. 4
Oncidium orchid repotting and potting
Oncidiums prefer a very free-draining bark-based potting medium that is slightly underpotted. Always repot only when necessary. Frequently, an orchid will grow nicely for a few years before becoming so root-bound that division and repotting are required.
Reduce watering in the winter to every two months or less. Oncidium orchids have huge pseudobulbs, which allow them to endure severe drought. Pseudobulbs that are wrinkled typically lack water.
Typical Pests & Plant Illnesses
Oncidiums are susceptible to rot because they have numerous, thick, fleshy pseudobulbs.
5 Cut out a pseudobulb with sterile snippers if you notice one starting to decay.
The same pests that harm many houseplants, such as aphids, mealybugs, scale, two-spotted spider mites, and thrips, also afflict Oncidium orchids.
6 The same insecticides used for other plants, such as horticultural oils and synthetic pesticides like malathion, can be used to treat these insects. Pruning damaged leaves and removing plant waste regularly will help to reduce pest issues.
Getting Oncidium Orchids to Bloom: A Guide
When in bloom, oncidiums are stunning. Over the course of several months, usually starting in late summer, a large, well-grown plant may produce six or seven-branched sprays of yellow blooms. The result resembles a cloud of buttery butterflies quite much. However, since orchids are frequently bought while they are already in bloom, it is frequently disappointing when they do not rebloom after their amazing initial show.
You need to provide your orchid the appropriate circumstances in order for it to reliably rebloom:
Oncidiums require a lot of light to bloom again. Keep in mind that this kind of orchid requires more light than the majority of other genera, but not direct sunshine.
Pruning the flower stem after the bloom time is over will encourage reblooming.
The orchid needs temperatures that mimic a natural habitat most of all, which means warmer daytime temps and overnight lows of 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. These orchids will be hesitant to rebloom without chilly evenings.
With proper environmental management, you can encourage your oncidium to bloom twice or even three times a year, with blooms visible almost all year long.
Typical Issues with Oncidium Orchids
Oncidiums are frequently among the simpler orchids to grow once you have the growing conditions down. Orchids can be famously finicky. But be aware of these problems:
Other than inability to rebloom (see above), the most frequent problem is discolored leaves, which are typically caused by inadequate light. When given enough light, a oncidium orchid will have light, yellow-green leaves. Dark green leaves suggest that there is likely insufficient light, while too much light can cause the leaves to turn red.
Shadows on the Leaves
Although bacterial infections frequently cause dark stains on leaves, these infections are rarely highly dangerous. Increasing airflow in the space will typically make the infection go away.
Tips of brown leaves
An orchid’s browning leaf tips are typically an indication of chemical burn brought on by overfertilization. To remove the salts from the soil, give the plant more water.
Can I cultivate oncidium orchids in the garden?
Potted orchids make ideal patio plants in areas without frost. However, it is crucial to protect them from the cold by bringing them inside when the temperature drops to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
How long is the life span of a oncidium orchid?
If given the right growing conditions and divided and replanted every few years, a oncidium orchid can flourish for many decades.
Exist any oncidium orchids that have a distinctive fragrance?
The scent of “Sharry Baby” is distinctly chocolatey. “Twinkle” smells something like vanilla. Oncidium cheirophorum, a little fragrant orchid, is another well-known species. Try Oncidium chrysomorphum if citrus scents are your thing.