Oncidium Orchids are and easy group of plants to grow and can be one of the 'learner' orchids to start with!
In their wild state, they are normally epiphytic - needing no soil - and taking their food from the atmosphere. However, these growing conditions are not easy to replicate in most homes - or in most gardens, so some modifications are necessary. (There are some species of Oncidium which live on rocks or on the ground. We will not deal with those Oncidiums, as they are not generally suitable for the inexperienced grower.)
In the image above, Oncidium flexuosum type is growing on a sliver of old wood, and the roots have anchored it into place. A small 'cushion' of moss was used between the plant and wood, before tying in with twine. This is a suitable way of growing the Oncidium flexuosum types.
They normally have leathery leaves, and are well suited to growing on bark or in an orchid basket with plenty of spaces for the roots to 'escape'. Use a good open orchid compost. I tend to use cut up coconut husks. You may not live in an area where these are readily available! This type of Oncidium also produces pseudo bulbs, which can be used to produce more plants.
Oncidium flexuosum 'Dancing Ladies'
Some of the Oncidiums have long thin leaves and again, these are happy to grow - as in the wild - on a piece of wood or tree bark. Light plastic coated wire is suitable for the first anchoring of the plant - seen here being started off on a pole of coconut husks.
The wire can be shaped to ensure that it simply supports the young plant without cutting into it as it grows. The wire will be removed from the Oncidium once it has anchored itself. There are six Oncidiums on the pole, and it should be quite spectacular once established.
Oncidiums grow in a wide range of temperatures and climates - ranging from cool to tropical hot! The common factor to success is humidity. They all require a high humidity content, and this can be attained artificially by regular misting if outdoors. Greenhouse grown, the humidity is easier to attain, with regular damping down of staging etc.
The plants can be watered freely PROVIDING that you have 'free draining compost and the plant does not get waterlogged. Mine are watered daily - either in baskets - where the water runs through, or on a log where the water runs off. All of the Oncidiums are frost tender so will need protection - and less water - in the winter months.
The flowering habit of the Oncidium orchids is similar to many other orchids in that the 'tip' flowers emerge first, and then others lower down the flower stem later. So, don't cut the old flower stem off until you are absolutely sure that it has given you its last flower.
Oncidiums are easy to propagate by division of the plants as they grow older. They can also be propagated by separating the back bulbs produced by some varieties.
Pests Diseases and Problems
Growing Orchids - General Article
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