I have an Oncidium whose flowers are starting to fade but it looks like a second stem has emerged and is growing next to the first one. Could my orchid be getting ready to bloom again? Nancy L
One of the amazing traits of the Oncidium family (a large diverse group that includes related genera such as Brassidium, Degarmoara, and Colmanara) is their ability to bloom on every new growth (or pseudobulb). Large plants can have multiple new growths in a single pot and the end result could be wave after wave of blooms, or more likely, one big flowering. There is no ‘blooming season’ for Oncidiums – they bloom whenever a new growth matures which can be 1-2 times a year.
However, the growing conditions for Oncidiums include filtered light (direct sun that has been filtered by blinds, a sheer curtain, or outside under a trellace) which is quite a bit more sunlight than the ever-popular shade-loving phalaenopsis. Without adequate light, new Oncidium pseudobulbs are stunted and will not flower. So keep those light levels bright and enjoy the show.
I have read the best selling book, ‘The Orchid Thief’, which was later made into the movie ‘Adaptation’. The story takes place in south Florida where the main characters search for the rare ‘Ghost Orchid’. What more can you tell me about this orchid and can a novice grow it? Gene H
The Ghost Orchid, botanically known as Dendrophylax lindenii (Polyrrhiza lindenii) , is found natively in a swamp known as the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve near Naples, FL. The plant blooms in the spring or summer and produces a single white flower successively (one after the other). The lip of the flower is extraordinarily delicate and curvy tailed. The Ghost Orchid received its name because the plant has no leaves (only roots) and when it blooms, the flower appears to be floating in mid-air.
Regrettably, this orchid is both difficult to obtain and difficult to grow, thus its appeal to the die-hard collectors described in the book. The Ghost Orchid is an endangered species so it cannot be removed from its native habitat and must be propagated commercially from seed – a process that takes 7+ years. The growing conditions for mature plants are equally daunting - requiring very warm temperatures and swamp-like humidity levels year round.
What is the best way to control insects on orchids? Each summer, I put my orchids outside but I worry about what bugs they may be covered with when I bring them back in. Sue A
One of the best tips to growing orchids in this climate is to put them outside for the summer where they will be right at home in the ‘rainforest-like’ conditions we have. The fresh air, gentle breezes, and high humidity will make most orchids thrive. Unfortunately, insects also thrive under these conditions so a good grower must look closely for signs of infestation.
The pests that are attracted to orchids are many: aphids, mealy bugs, mites, scale (brown and white), and thrips. The most likely place for attack is under the leaves where even minor infestations will result in a patch of sticky sap. Short term organic remedies for insects include wiping the leaves with rubbing alcohol or soapy water and hand spraying the foliage with a pyrethrum based mixture. Another option for control is to use a horticultural oil, soap, or wax that smothers the insects but is safe for people and plants.