the excess water needs to drain out of the pot after watering
your orchid, this will prevent rotting roots; many orchids
grow on trees in the wild where their roots are exposed to
Check this section again for more tips.
orchids we see in cultivation need to be at least four years
old to bloom fairly well; many are much, much older. The large
Phalaenopsis plants you see in this website are generally
7 to 9 years old.
Forest Orchids (Oncidiinae)
Care and Growing Tips
(applies both to tall and short kinds)
group of orchids is native to "cloud forests", higher elevation
jungles from Central America south to Peru, in the lower slopes
of the Central American Cordilleras and South American Andes
mountains. In this climate, whose moisture is provided more
by fogs that roll in repeatedly throughout the day and night,
there is little variation in temperature, day length, or seasons
- situated so near the equator, at elevations of 3000 to 5000
feet, one could say that it's always Spring.
Almost all may be kept cool or warm - by which we mean nothing
more than comfortable indoor temperatures, 50 to 60 degrees
F. at night, with a temperature increase during the day of
about 10 to 15 degrees. They readily tolerate higher temperatures,
but most (aside from the golden yellow Oncidium) should really
not be exposed for any length of time to temperatures in the
90s. On the cool side, they are perfectly happy with nights
as low as 40 degrees F occasionally and 45 degrees routinely.
Temperature is not a factor in persuading these orchids to
bloom again, except in the case of golden yellow oncidiums,
which prefer temperatures no lower than 55 - ever!
As with many orchids, these require watering frequently enough
to maintain a level of moisture in the pot that is not dripping
wet at all times, nor dry ever; evenly, consistently moist.
Of course it will be wetter just after watering but the point
is to never let the plants dry out completely. They can be
watered best by placing them in a sink and running cold water
into the pot for 10 or 15 seconds, or alternatively an ice
cube can be placed on the bark medium in the pots and allowed
to melt, the slower trickle of water providing enough moisture
to sustain the plant. In this second method, the plants should
nonetheless be watered thoroughly from time to time to allow
minerals deposited in the bark medium to be rinsed out. Morning
is the best time to water any orchids. Twice a week while
blooming will usually be sufficient for a large plant; if
more than two flower stems are present, three times may be
required. When not blooming, once per week is usually enough.
These orchids greatly appreciate frequent applications of
very mild dilutions of fertilizer. Many commercial brands
work well, such as Miracle Grow, Peters, Dyna Grow, and so
on; in most cases, the label will provide information on how
much fertilizer to add to a gallon of water to make a solution
- but it is best to make a far, far weaker one. For example,
if the label calls for 1 tablespoon of fertilizer granules
per gallon of water, to be applied once per month, try instead
about one half teaspoon of granules per gallon, applied every
other watering. Premixed fertilizer can be kept for some time
under a sink, or in a cabinet out of reach of children (and
away from light, which will allow algae to grow in the water
in unsightly fashion).
These are orchids of brightly shady forests, and so their
needs for light can be met easily. One to two hours of full
sun in the early morning, OR sun diminished by sheer curtains
for a longer period, OR very bright shade, such as a spot
in a sunroom that happens never to be in full sun, are some
variations any of which would provide enough light to allow
the plants to grow and bloom.
The last item of concern is you! Take a little time to admire
the vivid colors; go closer and explore the intricacies of
the floral structure. We think you'll find a bit of peace
of mind, a brief mental vacation in your piece of tropical