Oncidium orchids are popularly known as “Dancing Ladies”.  Although usually about 1-2 cm across, each spray of flowers may carry 50 to over 100 individual flowers whch “dance” in any breeze.  As most mature plants will have several spray of flowers, these plants can be a magnificent sight.  They flower in Sydney from spring to late summer/autumn and thrive in our temperate and relatively humid climate.

The basic colour of the majority of species is yellow.  They can vary from a very pale to an almost luminescent shade and most are marked with red to brown bars or spots.  A few species are pale pink to red.  There is now a huge range of hybrids available which have increased the size of the flowers and the number of flowers produced by the plants and the colour range.

Nearly all are relatively easy to grow, either in a shade house or in the back yard hanging in a tree.  They are “epiphytic” orchids, normally attaching themselves to trees but not feeding from the tree itself.  Thus they need a medium bark mix which drains well; alternatively they can be mounted on a length of bark or hardwood which they will envelop with their roots.  As with most epiphytic orchids, they need regular weak fertiliser during active growth with watering every few days in warmer weather.   When not actively growing or flowering, this can be reduced but many plants are doing one or the other almost year round.  Growth can be amazingly rapid and large specimen plants produced after only several years.  In all, they are a most rewarding group of plants to grow.

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.