Vanda and their related orchids have been cultivated for many decades and are now available in a large range of colours and flower sizes. Some of them do require heat in our winter but a number of the newer hybrids have been bred for a more temperate climate.
The original and commonly seen vandas had large spectacular rounded flowers in dark blue/purple and hydridisation has increased the flower colours available. Further crossing with the related genus Ascocentrum has further increased this adding oranges and yellows into the colour palette.
In their natural habitat they grow in moderate light and in a continually buoyant and humid atmosphere with good air movement. Some do require a degree of protection in our winters. However, depending on parentage, others can be grown in a cooler climate with watering only on sunnier mornings in winter so the plant is dry by nightfall. The plants are epiphytic in nature and are commonly grown in very open ‘basket’ or ‘vanda’ pots. The medium can be bark, coco chips, perlite or any combination thereof provided drainage is good. The roots will commonly grow through and out of the pots which is the habit of the plant and not a problem. In nature they will ramble extensively over tree limbs and in leaf litter.
Regular feeding with any half strength fertiliser promotes strong growth and encourages flowering. They do not need feeding in the cooler months when they grow very little if at all.
Plants are available through societies or at some specialist orchid nurseries. When beginning with these plants, start with a larger established plant. It may cost a little more but the chance of success is much greater.
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.