The best way to Develop and Look after Oncidium Orchids (Odontoglossum)

Oncidium spp. (syn. Odontoglossum)

Are you up for a rising problem? Have you ever mastered the artwork of elevating Phalaenopsis orchids? Then it’s time to take a look at Odontoglossum orchids, also called tiger orchids.

Native to excessive altitudes within the Andes in South America, these orchids are famend for his or her huge, vibrant blossoms that may final for months.

They’re additionally recognized for being a bit difficult to develop as a result of they thrive in situations not usually present in most houses.

A horizontal photo of orange and cream speckled odontoglossum orchids.

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Don’t let that intimidate you, although, it’s not unattainable and picture how good you’ll really feel when your orchid is in full bloom in all its glory.

Moreover breeders have created quite a lot of adaptable hybrids and cultivars which can be a lot simpler to look after.

By the point you end this information, you’ll be an professional. Right here’s what we’ll go over to make that occur:

Earlier than we discuss the best way to domesticate these orchids, we have to clear up some terminology.

I do know we regularly name them Odontoglossum, however that’s not fairly correct. They is likely to be categorised that manner, however they won’t. Bizarre, proper? Let’s focus on.

What Are Odontoglossum or Oncidium Orchids?

Odontoglossum is a mouthful, so it helps to interrupt it down.

Odonto is Greek for tooth, and glossa is Greek for tongue. Put them collectively, and you’ve got “tooth-tongue.”

This can be a reference to the fleshy little lumps discovered on the higher floor of the lowermost petal, which is named the labellum.

A vertical photo of a yellow and black odontoglossum orchid agains a dark background.

Now that you realize what the title means, you possibly can neglect about it.

Orchidists and botanists have been engaged for years in a fiery debate over the best way to classify these crops. Properly, fiery for botanists, which might be extra like a well mannered dialog backed by scientific analysis and wonderful reasoning than an all-out argument.

For many years, many orchidists have been campaigning for the reclassification of the Odontoglossum genus.

For the reason that early 2000s and as not too long ago as 2016, the genus has been present process vital reorganization. It was once that Odontoglossum species and Oncidium species had been separate genera, regardless of the crops wanting related.

The previous grows in chilly areas at greater elevations, whereas the latter grows in hotter areas at decrease elevations.

A vertical photo of a yellow and red speckled odontoglossum orchid growing in a garden.

Now, they’re all categorised collectively within the Oncidium genus, and people previously categorised as Odontoglossum are merely known as cool-weather or cool-growing Oncidium.

You may additionally see the brand new grouping known as the Odontoglossum alliance or the Oncidium alliance. The unique species within the Oncidium genus are known as lowland or warm-growing Oncidium.

It looks as if sellers haven’t caught up with the replace, so that you’ll typically discover these bought beneath their unique title, and lots of people proceed to check with them that manner. Even some orchidists refuse to just accept the reclassification.

These orchids are sympodial, which signifies that the expansion emerges from a horizontal rhizome within the soil fairly than a single vertical stem like a Phalaenopsis.

They’ve flat, oval pseudobulbs from which one to a few leaves emerge. As you may need guessed, they will develop as terrestrial orchids, however they’re usually epiphytes.

The showy flowers, which might be white, pink, crimson, purple, or any mixture of these colours, usually emerge within the fall or winter, although a number of species bloom in spring. Most species have darkish speckling on the flowers, which might resemble the stripes on a tiger’s coat.

The blossoms are held on a flower stem that extends from the pseudobulbs, and every pseudobulb will kind only one flower stem.

On the prime of the stem are a number of flowers, every with three sepals, two petals, and a column and lip on the heart. After the blossoms drop, that pseudobulb won’t ever flower once more, however new ones will kind to take its place.

Should you’ve by no means heard of pseudobulbs earlier than, you possibly can be taught all about them in our information.

In a nutshell, a pseudobulb is a stem-like development on the base of the plant that shops water and vitamins.

Cool-growing Oncidium orchids are typically between one to 4 ft tall, relying on the species, although there are extra compact hybrids out there.

Cultivation and Historical past

These crops develop indigenously throughout Central America and western South America from sea degree to nicely over 8,000 ft.

They’re typically hardy in Zones 7 to 10, relying on the species.

The plant was first recognized by Westerners when German naturalist and explorer Friedrich Heinrich Alexander Baron von Humboldt discovered a specimen in Venezuela in 1799 that we now know as O. epidendroides.

It was despatched to England for identification, and plenty of different new species adopted, as they had been found by different explorers within the area.

A vertical photo of a speckled odontoglossum orchid bloom close up.

The genus was named in 1816 by German botanist Karl Sigismund Kunth, who explored and studied the indigenous crops within the Americas.

In 1835, the primary Odontoglossum bloomed in England to a lot fanfare when a specimen from Guatemala of the species O. bictoniense burst forth. This species quickly turned a favourite amongst collectors and plant breeders.

Breeders and residential growers additionally centered on O. cordatum, O. crispum, O. harryanum, O. pulchellum, O. rossii. At this time, many hybrids are cultivated from O. crispum and O. rossii.

Oncidium Propagation

It’s fully attainable to propagate orchids from seed when you’re adventurous. Our information explains the method.

Division can also be technically attainable, however it’s difficult and greatest left to these with loads of expertise. Most of us will take the simple street and buy our first crops.

A horizontal shot of a gardener wearing red garden gloves removing an odontoglossum orchid from a pot.

Once you deliver your plant residence, resist the urge to place it in a bigger container.

Over-potting is a fast option to kill tiger orchids as a result of they’re extraordinarily delicate to rising in a very giant pot, which might contribute to root rot.

Once you deliver yours residence, you possibly can depart it within the present container for one more 12 months or two.

The best way to Develop Oncidium Orchids

As I discussed, these orchids have a repute for being slightly little bit of a problem to develop.

However, actually, when you had been used to the proper local weather of perpetual spring, you’d most likely be slightly aggravated if somebody tried to make you reside wherever much less idyllic.

A horizontal close up of a white and dark red oncidium orchid growing in the garden.

The primary matter it is advisable type out is location. Cool-weather Oncidium crops want brilliant mild, however they completely should keep cool, which might be tough as a result of usually brightly lit areas within the residence are additionally the warmest.

Keep away from west-facing home windows due to the quantity of warmth. East-facing home windows will work, as will south-facing home windows coated with light-filtering curtains – not sheer curtains – assuming you’re not in a very popular local weather.

In very heat climates, you’d be higher off holding the plant away from any home windows and offering supplemental lighting as an alternative. Discover a develop bulb that’s low to medium mild or one that’s dimmable, and place it about 36 inches away from the plant.

This full-spectrum develop bulb out there by way of Amazon has all the time labored nicely for me and you’ll put it in a standard fixture so that you don’t have some ugly develop mild hanging in your lounge or bed room.

These crops develop natively on the edges of forests in “brilliant shade,” which can sound contradictory, however the shade beneath bushes subsequent to a meadow and the shade beneath bushes in the course of a forest is completely different.

Attempt to hold this in thoughts when selecting supplemental lighting or selecting a spot in your house.

As I’ve talked about, one of many primary challenges of rising these orchids is that they require cool temperatures.

These crops ought to be stored constantly beneath 75°F. Wholesome crops can tolerate temporary durations hotter than this, however not for lengthy.

A horizontal close up photo of dark red cool weather odontoglossum orchid blooms.

At evening, temperatures ought to drop to round 55°F. Any hotter than this, the plant will most likely not thrive.

Most species can tolerate temperatures a bit under this vary however will die in temperatures above 75°F. In addition they can’t tolerate freezing temperatures, so it is advisable hold the crops proper in that candy zone.

Once you repot your orchid, observe whether or not it’s an epiphyte or terrestrial.

Terrestrial varieties can develop in any unfastened, wealthy potting combine. Epiphytes have to be potted in orchid bark. Pure bark will work, however a medium with slightly charcoal, lava, perlite, and/or peat is healthier.

You’ll find a wonderful combine with moss, bark, perlite, and lava rock, out there from rePotme in mini, junior, and customary baggage by way of Amazon.

Orchid Potting Combine

No matter you utilize, a medium with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8 is good, and most potting mixes will probably be on this vary except they specify in any other case.

With some orchids, you may get away with rising them in a normal pot, however it is advisable use a slotted orchid pot with cold-weather Oncidium.

Be at liberty to position the pot inside a extra ornamental one, however a slotted container is important when rising delicate crops like these.

A horizontal photo of three tricolored odontoglossum orchid blooms.

You may as well decide to mount them on wooden, wire, or one thing related. In truth, I’d suggest you mount your crops when you’re acquainted with this rising technique.

It’s onerous to overwater them this manner, and it extra carefully mimics their pure habitat. Your solely concern is holding the substrate as moist as a well-wrung-out sponge.

Subsequent, we have to discuss water. These crops like numerous water, however the substrate should drain shortly and totally.

In addition they want good high quality water. That doesn’t imply it is advisable purchase them the premium bottled stuff, although it wouldn’t damage, however don’t use municipal water.

You should use filtered water, rainwater, or purchase distilled water – ideally you need it to have a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.

The substrate ought to by no means be allowed to dry out, however it shouldn’t keep soggy and moist, both. Of their pure habitat, these orchids obtain constant moisture year-round.

As soon as the pseudobulbs begin to shrivel and wrinkle slightly, they’re telling you they want moisture. You’ll be able to be taught extra about watering orchids in our information.

These orchids like a humidity degree of between 55 and 80 p.c. Numerous houses are drier than this, so use a humidifier or hold crops within the rest room if it has the best mild and temperature.

You may as well group crops collectively to extend the ambient humidity round them.

Feed each different week in the course of the spring and summer time and weekly in the course of the winter. In case you are holding your plant primarily in bark, it would want a stronger formulation than these grown in soil.

For a bark combine or soil, use one thing like a 3-1-2 NPK. For pure bark, use 6-2-4 or related.

Liquid Indoor Plant Fertilizer

Leaves and Soul makes a 3-1-2 meals for houseplants that you could find in an eight-ounce bottle at Amazon.

Rising Suggestions

  • Develop in brilliant, oblique mild and funky temperatures of beneath 75°F in the course of the day and round 55°F at evening.
  • Present humidity between 55 and 80 p.c.
  • Develop in a bark or bark combine.

Pruning and Upkeep

Most new orchids you buy from the shop are available in a four- or five-inch pot. Go away your specimen on this for the primary 12 months.

Then, you’ll want to interchange the substrate yearly and repot into a bigger container when needed.

The most effective time to repot or change the substrate is within the spring or fall.

Take away the plant from its pot and gently knock out the entire substrate. Look at the roots and clip off any which can be mushy, damaged, or useless.

Maintain the roots within the new pot and gently fill in round them with recent substrate. Agency the substrate across the roots in order that they’re packed sufficient which you could raise the plant by the stem, and the pot gained’t fall away.

Once you begin to see loads of roots popping out of the slots within the pot, this can be a sign that it’s time to go up a pot dimension. 

When you have the plant mounted, you will have to take away the outdated substrate yearly or two and exchange it, growing the scale of the bottom barely.

In case your plant is mounted, it would usually be in a moss or bark substrate that’s held along with mesh, string, or related. You have to to interchange this each few years because it breaks down, as nicely.

You’ll want to exchange the substrate periodically for potted crops, as nicely, as a result of salts will construct up from municipal water and fertilizer, and the substrate will break down over time.

You don’t have to repot the orchid, simply take away the outdated substrate and exchange it with new.

Some species will rebloom repeatedly each 10 months or so, no matter what you do.

Others have to be uncovered to temperatures about 10 levels decrease than regular for a month or so to encourage flowering. For extra suggestions and the total run-down, take a look at our information.

Oncidium Hybrids and Species to Choose

As I discussed, there are a selection of contemporary cultivars and hybrids which can be a bit much less fussy than the species crops. Let’s have a look at a number of stand-outs.

Cambria Hybrids

If taking good care of Odontoglossum orchids feels overwhelming, search for O. x cambria hybrids.

They’re slightly simpler to develop in that they gained’t hand over the ghost when you don’t hold their rising atmosphere simply excellent.

A horizontal photo of a pink and red cambria orchid hyrbrid with the background blurred out.

Cambria is the title for numerous hybrid crosses between crops within the former Cochlioda, the previous Miltonia, the previous Odontoglossum, and Oncidium genera.

Whereas they weren’t included within the unique hybrids, fashionable Cambrias may embrace crops within the Brassia genus.

Charles Vuylsteke, a grower in Lochristi, Belgium, bred the primary Cambria out of Cochlioda, Miltonia, and funky climate Oncidium in 1911. The ensuing brilliant crimson and white flowered plant was named O. x vuylstekeara in honor of the breeder.

In contrast to different cool-weather Oncidium varieties, many of those hybrids bloom each 9 months fairly than yearly.

The looks of the crops may be very numerous – with a wide range of completely different leaf styles and sizes, and flower colours and sizes.

Some individuals check with any Oncidium alliance hybrids as Cambria, however now you realize higher.


Equitant or O. x tolumnia orchids are smaller than your typical Oncidium alliance specimen.

A horizontal photo of a white and dark pink oncidium orchid with a blurred background.

They not often develop greater than eight inches tall and should by no means want something bigger than a four-inch pot.

The spring flower spike might be as much as 18 inches lengthy and are available in colours which can be uncommon for orchids reminiscent of lavender, orange, pink, brown, burgundy, white, cream, and yellow.

These orchids tolerate hotter temperatures – as much as the excessive 80s in the course of the day and mid-60s at evening.


O. nobile is a reasonably widespread species in the marketplace, and that’s certainly due to its flower stalks, which have clusters of as much as 100 extremely aromatic blooms.

They flower within the spring for weeks and weeks with blossoms in a variety of colours from white to deep purple or crimson.

Managing Pests and Illness

Regardless of their fussy repute, these orchids aren’t notably troubled by pests.

You may see aphids or spider mites. Each of those sap-suckers use their mouthparts to extract the sap of orchids and plenty of different houseplants.

Each might be eradicated by spraying them off with a robust stream of water after which treating crops with insecticidal cleaning soap.

A horizontal shot from above of a gardener's hands inspecting the roots of an odontoglossum orchid over a wooden table.

The one illness to fret about is root rot. It may be attributable to the fungus Rhizoctonia solani, however it’s normally attributable to drowning the roots in an excessive amount of water.

Orchids are infamous for being prone to root rot, and Oncidium species are much more so. You completely should make sure you don’t overwater, and it’s essential to develop your plant in a well-draining medium, like bark in a pot with drainage holes.

You must also make sure you repeatedly exchange the rising medium as a result of it would break down over time, decreasing the quantity of oxygen that may attain the roots.

Study extra about potential orchid issues and the best way to cope with them in our information.

Finest Makes use of for Oncidium Orchids

Most individuals decide to develop their orchids in pots, they usually look beautiful that manner.

The long-lasting flowers and low-light tolerance make them excellent as a show on eating tables, bookshelves, espresso tables, and desks.

A horizontal close up of a burgundy and white Odontoglossum orchid.

However in addition they develop nicely mounted on one thing like wooden or mesh. Not solely does it make for an fascinating show, however it reduces the possibility of the plant contracting root rot.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Sort: Evergreen epiphytic or terrestrial sympodial orchid Flower/Foliage Coloration: Bicolored, orange, pink, crimson, white, yellow/inexperienced
Native to: Central and South America Tolerance: Low mild for brief durations
Hardiness (USDA Zones): 7-10 Soil Sort: Orchid bark or bark combine
Bloom Time: Winter or spring Soil pH: 6.0-6.8
Publicity: Vivid, oblique mild Soil Drainage: Properly-draining
Time to Maturity: As much as 5 years Makes use of: Container-grown or mounted houseplant
Planting Depth: Identical depth as earlier container Order: Asparagales
Peak: As much as 4 ft, relying on selection Household: Orchidaceae
Unfold: As much as 2 ft, relying on selection Tribe: Cymbidieae
Water Wants: Average Subtribe: Oncidiinae
Upkeep: Average Genus: Oncidium (syn. Odontoglossum)
Widespread Pests and Illnesses: Aphids, spider mites; Root rot Species: Blandum, constrictum, cirrhosum, gloriosum, harryanum, nobile, odoratum, tenuoides, tripudians, hybrids

The Orchid With Tooth

Odontoglossum, Oncidium, Oncidium alliance, tiger orchids – no matter you name them, they’re undeniably lovely crops with long-lasting flowers in hanging colours.

A horizontal close up shot of a purple and burgundy odontoglossum orchid bloom.

Are you working into any issues rising yours? Perhaps having bother encouraging it to rebloom? Tell us within the feedback and we’ll see if we can assist.

All in favour of extra details about rising orchids? If that’s the case, have a learn of those guides subsequent:

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