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Growing Orchids
The National Capital Orchid Society

Oncidieae Culture

Cattleya    Cymbidium    Dendrobium   Oncidieae    
Paphiopedilum    Phalaenopsis    Vandaceous

Many popular orchids are members of the Oncidieae tribe, including, of course, the oncidiums as well as the natural genera; Brassia, Cochlioda, Miltonia, Miltoniopsis (commonly known as cool growing Miltonia) Odontoglossum, Rodriguezia and intergeneric hybrids such as Rodricidium, Vuylstekeara, Odontonia and Odontocidium. Naturally in such a large grouping not all have the same growing needs, however, some things are constant.

Humidity and Ventilation - As with most orchids a humidity of at least 50% is essential, in the home this is most easily achieved by using a humidity tray, (Remember not to rest the pot directly on the gravel). Misting is also good for raising the humidity, but should be done early enough so that the leaves are completely dry by evening. Natural ventilation is usually enough in the home but in enclosures and greenhouses, fans should be used.

Pests - Aphids, mealy bug and scales are the commonest enemies of the oncidieae. They can be controlled with insecticides like Malathion or X-clude. Remember that these products are intended to kill and should be used in the open air outside your home. A light horticultural oil, like Year Round, (not a dormant oil) which smothers bugs and their eggs is quite effective against most pests and fairly safe. Insecticidal Soap is also effective against these insects and reasonably safe, but it has less residual action. With any of these products, some insects and especially their eggs, will survive to breed again. One dose of even a systemic insecticide will not wipe out a large population of insects totally and completely. In the home, vigilance is often the best defense against pests. If you get them early, before they start laying eggs, they can be eliminated relatively easily. Slugs and snails can be controlled with products containing Metaldehyde such as Deadline. Diatomaceous Earth is quite effective against slugs and Beer in a shallow bowl is a good trap for them. Remember to always use any of these products with caution and in accordance with the manufacturers label.

Watering and Feeding - Never keep the plants soaking wet or bone dry for very long. Wet and dry are the extremes, wet just after watering, almost dry just before watering. Feed once a month in the Winter, every three weeks - Spring & Fall, and every two weeks in the Summer. Be sure to water at least twice between feedings to leach salts.

LIGHT WATER Day Temperature Night Temperature
Oncidiums bright wet to dry 70 - 80 + 60
Brassua bright wet to dry 70 - 80 + 60
Cochliada moderate moist 70 - 80 max 55 - 58
Colmanara bright wet to dry 70 - 80 + 60
Degarmoara bright wet to dry 70 - 80 + 60
Miltonia moderate moist 70 - 80 + 60
Miltoniopsis shady moist 70 - 80 max 58 - 60
Odontoglossum moderate moist 70 - 80 max 55
Rodriguezia bright wet to dry 70 - 80 + 60
Rodricidium bright wet to dry 70 - 80 + 60
Vuylstekeara moderate moist 70 - 80 max 60
Odontonia moderate moist 70 - 80 max 55 - 60
Odonticidium bright moist 70 - 80 + 55 - 60

*Miltonopsis commonly known as cool growing Miltonia.

Light - Avoid direct sun except for very early or late in the day. Bright for orchids does not mean direct sun but strong filtered light. Shade does not mean dark, most flowering plants will not do well in a north exposure. Artificial lights are fine for all but the largest Oncidieae.