Growing and Caring for Oncidium Orchids at Home
Commonly known as “the dancing ladies”, Oncidium orchid is a favourite indoor variety of orchid enthusiasts. These orchids require no soil for cultivation, and they can grow fast.
Planting and growing these flowers at home require special attention, but they are not as fussy as other popular orchids.
Interested in growing these flowers at home? Follow his guide.
1. Oncidium Orchid Characteristics and Varieties
Oncidium orchids originally grow in rainforests, mostly hanging from tree branches. The name “Oncidium” consists of numerous species. However, the most popular Oncidium orchid varieties among gardeners are the hybrids.
They include the indoor beauty Oncidium Sherry Baby, the petite Oncidium Twinkle, and Oncidium Gower fancied by its ability to produces numerous blooms.
When in full bloom, Oncidium shows a large mass of flowers, which often make the stems sag. The colours are bright, ranging from yellow to pink, red, and even dark purple (sometimes with markings). The stem has “pseudobulbs”, which is a large fibrous mass consists of white roots.
Generally, Oncidium orchids can handle brighter light than other orchid types. They prefer indirect light than scorching direct light, so placing them in the shade is a good idea.
Oncidium loves water, but you must balance it with drainage because its roots and stem pseudobulbs rot easily. They also prefer warm temperature in various climates, from humid forest to semiarid lowland.
2. Requirements to Plant Oncidium Orchids
Oncidium orchids are popular as an indoor or semi-indoor plant, whether in hanging pots or large pots with loose soil mixture. Here are the requirements to plant them:
Oncidium needs bright, indirect light several hours a day, but pay attention to the leaves. If you have the ones with thick leaves, find a spot that gets four to six hours of bright but indirect light every day. If the leaves are thin, you can place the flower in a slightly shaded area.
Check the temperature in your planting area. Ideal Oncidium orchid care requires an average temperature of 27 to 29 degrees Celsius (80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit).
If you plant a small Oncidium, you need to fertilise it regularly with weak orchid fertiliser. Large plants also need more feed than the small ones, even after they go past the growing season.
Oncidium is originally a rainforest plan, so make sure your planting area has high humidity. Consider installing humidifier if necessary.
Soil with good drainage
Oncidium is okay with all-purpose orchid soil mix. If you start from a baby orchid, mix perlite and sphagnum moss. Chopped fir or pine barks ensure drainage, which is useful to prevent rotting.
If your climate does not support healthy growth, consider having a greenhouse to plant the orchid, even the small one.
3. How to Pot and Repot Oncidium Orchids
Oncidium orchids grow quickly, so you need to repot them every year. Because the plant does not depend on soil, Oncidium only requires new loose soil mixture (with chopped bark) in the new pots.
Since the plant forms large pseudobulbs, you can divide them into sections and place each part in new pots. Each part must have at least three pseudobulbs in a new pot, to ensure successful flowering.
Here are the steps of simple repotting:
- Remove the plant from the old Shake to remove the bark and soil.
- Remove the rotten, slimy, or damaged parts using a sterilised Throw out the old soil mixture.
- Make new soil and bark mixture in a new pot. Place the plant slightly to the side, giving a spot for lateral growth.
- Fill up the pot, but only reaching the plant base. Don’t cover the stem.
- Plant stake to stabilise the plant. Water it.
One of the common problems in repotting is rotting roots or pseudobulbs. They can happen because of excessive moisture. You must cut away all the rotting parts before repotting Oncidium orchids. Also, pick suitable pots according to size. Clay pots are perfect for large plants, while the plastic ones are okay for the smaller plants.
4. How to Care for Oncidium Orchids
If you start with baby orchid care, calculate the purchase so your plant can grow during blooming season (August to November). The ideal way to fertilise orchid is once a week, using diluted orchid fertiliser (which doubles as watering).
Flush the plant every month to remove traces of fertiliser. Please pay attention to the pseudobulbs; shrivelled bulbs mean they need more water, while plump ones mean they are happy.
The ideal fertiliser is the balanced type (20:20:20). However, if you plant the orchid in a bark mixture, use nitrogen-rich fertiliser (30:10:10), especially during the growing season.
5. Problems of Oncidium Orchids
Oncidium orchids may face several problems or ailments during their growth periods. Here are some common problems and how to respond:
Bud blast happens when the orchid produces new flower buds that immediately shrivel and die. This can happen because of sudden or extreme changes in the surrounding environment, such as temperature, water amount, humidity, or fertilising frequency. Check if you ever expose your plant to extreme changes.
Spotted leaves sometimes appear on Oncidium orchids because of handling or sensitivity level. They are usually fine, but if the spots get bigger, they may be signs of fungal or bacterial problems. Try removing the affected areas and treating the plant with an antifungal/antibacterial solution for orchids.
Mealy bugs are common pests of Oncidium orchids. They appear as white, cotton-like spots at the bottom parts of the buds or leaf undersides. When left untreated, the pests can cause plant deformities. Stop the spread by rubbing off the spots using Q-tip and mild soap. Treat the plant with horticultural oil (if the problem is small) or insecticide (if it’s serious).
Aphids are the most common problems you will notice even on healthy plants. However, they are easy to pick up or flush with mild soapy water. You can also get ladybugs from local gardening supply stores since they are aphids’ natural predators.
Oncidium orchids are beautiful flowers that grow without true soil. Their mass blooms and bright colours will make your house more cheerful. While they require a warmer temperature than other orchids, there are special requirements you must fulfil. Follow this guide to grow healthy and beautiful Oncidium orchid at home.