With it’s cascading yellow flowers and easy care, this orchid is perfect for the beginner gardener!
Oncidium orchids or, dancing lady orchid, is a highly hybridized orchid that comes in many shapes, colors, and sizes. Overall it is a very easy to care for plant that does very well in most indoor settings. They are great for beginner gardeners as they don’t require a ton of care or maintenance. The plant itself is quite small and compact and is perfect for bright windowsills.
Lighting & Temperature
Oncidiums grow well in most indoor temperatures. To promote more blooms, expose your plant to evening temperatures in the 56 F – 65 F degree range. If you live in an area that experiences a winter, having your plant next to the windowsill will help with this. It will get plenty of bright light and cooler temps. Day temperatures can range from 70 F – 90 F.
Similar to other orchid types, Oncidiums prefer bright indirect lighting. Up against an eastern facing window or a few feet away from a south/western facing window are great options. If your window has a lot of heat associated with your light, placing the plant a few feet away can help with this or provide a light window shade.
Watering & Humidity
The frequency of watering really depends on what type of substrate it’s growing in and how much light the plant is receiving. My plant is growing in a mixture of bark chips and pumice and is watered at least once a week. I tend to water thoroughly when I notice the bark chips are getting dry. Be sure to water your orchid from the bottom as opposed to the top. Most indoor settings don’t have enough airflow and watering the whole plant leaves the plant susceptible to fungal problems. Watering straight at the roots helps to prevent this problem. If your leaves are looking a bit dusty you can clean them off with a damp paper towel.
You may have noticed in my photos that the base of the plant looks almost pruny. This is actually an indicator that the plant needs to be watered. The bulb like base of the plant should look a bit smoother than pictured. Looking for signs like this in your plant will help you gauge when to water. Soon after these photos were taken my plant had a long drink of water in my sink.
Most Orchids do enjoy a bit of humidity. Providing your plant with a light misting here and there really helps. In the winter, I’ll place my plant in the bathroom while I’m taking a hot shower so it gets an added boost. Having a room humidifier does wonders as well. In the summer months, I like to keep my Oncidium outside under one one of my trees. I tend to water the whole plant when I keep it outside. With the wind and airflow of the outdoors, I don’t worry about leaf spot so much and the plant really enjoys the boost in humidity on it’s leaves.
Substrate & Growth Pattern
Depending on where you purchase your orchids, you’ll notice a range of substrate your plant will be potted in. I personally love a bark, horticultural charcoal, and perlite/pumice mix. It provides the best airflow to the root system of most orchids. I’ve seen sphagnum moss used in a lot of orchids that I’ve purchased in the past. It’s not terrible to use if you have a lot of great airflow but most homes don’t have enough, so they tend to stay wet a little too long causing root rot.
My Oncidium is potted in a decorated terra-cotta pot with a drainage hole. It’s important to plant orchids in planters with drainage holes. They get better aeration and drainage this way.
As you may have noticed, Oncidiums look pretty different from Phalaenopsis Orchids. Unlike Phalaenopsis, Oncidiums are sympodial growers, which means they grow from a pseudobulb like base that grows in clusters as opposed to a single stalk. From the photos you’ll notice that the plant has several different bases that it grows from. Over the years they will grow in numbers and will produce new bloom spikes from new bulb like growth.
Encouraging Blooms & After Bloom Care
First and foremost, providing the appropriate amount of light is key. These plants love bright light. Orchids such as Phalaenopsis can do with a little less light but Oncidiums cannot. Placing them next to a bright east, south, or western facing window will provide them with the lighting they need to grow their best.
Providing the plant with some lower nighttime temperatures helps as well. My plant put out a lot of new growth during the summer and as the temperatures started to dip it put out a flower spike.
After your flowers have bloomed you’ll notice the flowers starting to fall and the stalk starting to turn brown. At this point you can cut the bloom spike down to the base with some sterile pruning sheers or scissors. It helps to keep the plant looking neat and the plant can focus it’s energy elsewhere.