This group, formerly known as Odontoglossum orchids, have increased in popularity over the last 40 years. While many of these plants have been transferred to Oncidium, there has been extensive breeding with other cooler growing types, making them very suitable for our climate. Originally they came from South America and with the hybridising has come an extension of the flowering period which can start as early as April and go to November/December.
The flowers can be up to 8cm or more in size and are often attractively marked. The range of colours now available is extensive with almost anything that you could desire being available somewhere. The whites are now challenged by reds and purples as the most eye-catching plants in shows. A mature plant may carry over 100 flowers producing a spectacular display. The individual sprays of flowers can be over 1 metre long.
These orchids prefer a slightly cooler environment than many other epiphytic orchids. Thus they need a medium bark mix which drains well, often supplemented with other media to hold a little more moisture than required for other orchids. They also need some protection from the full sun, particularly in the hotter parts of our summer. They appreciate misting to keep them cool zt these times but otherwise love our humid climate. Regular weak fertiliser is needed during active growth and should not be allowed to dry out completely.
The Eastern Suburbs Orchid Society has an orchid show on the third Monday of every month at 8pm, St Luke’s Church Hall, Varna Street, Clovelly. Visitors are always welcome.