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Wisconsin's Tropical Gardens

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ONCIDIUM - Dancing Lady Orchid

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This is an extraordinarily large and diverse genus with an equally diverse number of habitats. Oncidium species may originate from sea level in the tropics to high elevations of the Andes. This obviously makes cultural generalizations for species difficult. The good news is that with the onset of hybridization and the mixing of intergeneric species, growing oncidium alliance orchids is becoming much easier. Common oncidium-type orchids include Miltassia, Miltonidium, Brassidium, Odontocidium, Colmanara, and the like.

LIGHT: Most oncidium orchids prefer bright light, including one to several hours of filtered sunlight per day. Place your oncidium near a bright east, west or south window. Smaller varieties will also thrive under lights, provided enough tubes are used and they are close enough to the plants.

TEMPERATURES: In general terms, oncidiums prefer night temperatures between 55-60° and day temperatures of 80-85°. Temps near 100° are tolerated if shade, humidity and air movement are increased.

WATER: Plants with big, fleshy leaves or roots need less frequent watering than thin-leaved plants with fine roots. Water thoroughly and allow the media to dry at least halfway before the next watering. Water less when the plant is not actively growing.

HUMIDITY: Keep the humidity between 30-50%. This is usually not hard to maintain in average households during the summer. In the winter, grouping plants on humidity trays helps as does a humidifier.

FERTILIZE weekly when the plants are actively growing, and less or not at all during the rest period. Use a half-strength 30-10-10 solution for plants in a bark medium and 10-10-10 mix for plants in other media.

REPOT in the spring as soon as the media begins to become mushy. Use a well-drained mix and a pot that will accommodate the roots and 1-2 years growth. Place the plant in the pot so the newest growth is toward the center and old growth against the rim of the pot.

Oncidium orchids are occassionally available in 5" clay pots.