Dancing lady orchids photos

Oncidium and Seedling Imperial Orchid Mix

Quality and Value from rePotme

We’ve all heard the old adage that you get what you pay for. We know it is true with the clothes we buy, the tires we put on our cars, the food we buy, and so many other things we get. It is just as true with the mix and media we buy for our prized plants. Yes, it is possible to pay less, but you will get what you paid for and the result can be plants that show it! Our mixes give you an edge. Your plants can thrive and you can be confident that you have given them every chance to be their best. Why settle for less?

Why are rePotme mixes superior?

We carry more potting mixes and media than anyone, and along the way we’ve focused on quality of ingredients, freshness, and value for our great customers. All of our mixes are made by hand, the old fashioned way. This means that we inspect what goes in and we gently create perfect fresh blends that promote healthy and happy plants. Other mixes and medias can even have bugs and larvae in them when you bring them home. Our mixes come in clear bags so you can see what you get. Clean, fresh, just made and personally inspected for quality. Why settle for less?

What about quantity?

It can be a real challenge to sort out competing sizes when shopping for mixes. Some places tell you the weight, some the dimensions, but few tell you by quart size what you will get in the container. We tell you that one quart of potting mix fills a six inch wide pot, two four inch pots, or half of an eight inch pot with no plant in it. The number of plants that can be repotted depends on the size of the roots and how tightly the mix is packed into the pot. Our customers know that they get a stuffed container and it is usually surprising how much mix you get for the money. Good value and a fair deal from rePotme. That is what we strive to deliver with each and every order.

What about choices and sizes?

RePotme offers mixes for just about every plant by name, and we offer more medias in more size choices than anywhere else. We offer containers from our smallest MINI bag, all the way up to our giant CUBE sizes which holds many times that much. We pioneered the Make Your Own Select-A-Blend make your own mix concept where you tell us what you would like in your mix and we custom blend exactly what you want and ship it the same day.

How long does the mix last?

Here again, rePotme delivers the goods! When buying orchids, it is always wise to inspect the mix and the pot that the plant is in. Many times, the mix is old and the plant is climbing out of the pot. Sometimes the pot isn’t great either, offering little or no drainage. Repotting your new plants in our fresh mix and new pots is smart, and you would like to do so soon after getting them. Once the bloom is done, give the plant a breath of fresh air ( new mix promotes oxygen movement around the root zone ), and put it in a proper sized orchid pot that offers great drainage, and one that promotes air flow. Our exclusive Oxygen Core Dual™ Pots do exactly that. Mixes eventually break down, and one should expect to repot every year or two to keep the plants root zone healthy. Our mixes can be expected to hold up extremely well because they are fresh and clean to begin with and because they are gently handled and packaged all along the way.

What do you mean by fresh?

Other outfits make their mixes with machines, and materials go in a hopper which often breaks down the media. If it was clean to begin with, by the time it is mixed and bagged ( by machines ), it can be dried out, crushed and dust laden. These “brand X” mixes then sit around on shelves, in storage buildings and trucks which further dries them out and the handling of the bags can further break down the ingredients into ever smaller particles and dust. Here at rePotme, our mix ingredients are washed, inspected and blended with care by people who know what they are looking at. Every mix is hand crafted and every bag is filled by hand. Often times the mix you receive was just made by us and you can tell because the media is still moist and has the look and feel that makes it obvious.

Why do some mixes require “soaking”?

Other mixes need to be soaked for hours because they are all dried out to begin with and they have been sitting around for months or even seasons! Compare a bag of our fresh mix to one of those and you will see the difference right away. Stiff, dusty, shriveled, and hard is the norm. That’s why they tell you to soak overnight. Our mixes are ready to use when you get them, and the only thing we suggest is to uniformly moisten for immediate use.

Beware of Box Store Mixes

Be on guard for store mixes that simply describe the contents as “Orchid Bark”. The Box stores have little bags lined up on the shelves with pretty flowers on the bag so you can’t see the contents. Is it good for your orchids? Do you really know what is in that pretty store bought bag and might that explain why it is so cheap? It might be primarily fir bark which we know is cooked at very high temperatures by regulation and that certainly doesn’t “freshen” it. Heat treating bark makes it brittle and dusty. Fir bark can and usually does irritate skin by creating tiny splinters that contact unprotected skin.

We carry wonderful alternatives to store bought “Orchid Bark” that are fresh, great for your fine plants and that don’t irritate your skin and are not full of dust and fines. These include sustainable harvested media like Orchiata Monterey Pine bark, Coconut Husk, Redwood chips and bark, Sphagnum mosses and plenty of other wonderful medias in our mixes and that are available individually. In fact, rePotme.com has more media and mix choices than anyone. All of our mixes and medias come in perfectly clear resealable bags so you can see exactly what you are getting. Each of our mixes list every media in them. Don’t be tricked by pretty little bags at your local box store!

What is the difference between Classic and Imperial?

We have two mix lines, Classic and Imperial. The Classics were the first mixes we made when our business was formed many years ago. They are great mixes and remain a bit less costly than the Imperial mixes which we created a few years ago. The Imperial mixes are made with some ingredients that are harder to find, tend to be more complex, and are more costly to make. For example, the Phalaenopsis Imperial mixes ( AAA, Monterey Gold and Monterey Dark ), are all made with ultra-pure New Zealand AAA Sphagnum moss and other listed ingredients. The Gold version also includes virgin cork chips from Portugal. The Dark Version contains special aged bark called Orchiata from sustainable forests in New Zealand. The Classic mixes are made with more familiar materials like coconut husk chips from Sri Lanka, and Fir Bark ( often known as ” orchid bark ” ), typically from the west coast of the United States. In general, the Imperial line of mixes tends to be faster draining and drier while the Classics tend to hold more moisture.

Why do we make 5 different Phalaenopsis mixes?

We are often asked why there are so many choices, and how to choose between them, so we thought it would be helpful to explain the logic here. There are two Classic Phal mixes, Gold and Dark, and three Imperial Phal mixes, Gold, Dark and AAA.

Each of the five mixes we make for Phalaenopsis ( sometimes known as Moth Orchids and Just Add Ice Orchids ) have unique characteristics, and each can be perfect for certain environments and applications. We ship plenty of each, and below are some of the reasons our customers choose one over another. Keep in mind that best practice is to repot orchids annually because over time mixes break down and become acidic which is not good for roots.

Moisture retention and the environment the plant is growing in are key reasons to go with one type over another. For example, the Dark mixes, both Classic and Imperial, tend to hold a bit less moisture than their Gold counterparts ( including AAA Imperial ) that contain sphagnum moss which has high water retention properties. If your plants are growing in hot and/or dry arid locations, the Gold versions will most likely be the best choice for repotting. On the other hand, if your plants are growing in wet, cool, or higher humidity areas, the Dark versions will most likely be the best choice. Orchids like to go through cyclical periods of good moisture in the mix and then experiencing mix that is starting to dry from the top. For this reason, we suggest only watering when the mix feels dry and kind of crunchy to the touch on top.

Your own watering habits and practices may also lead to your choosing one mix over another. Some of us like to water, and some of us tend to put it off. The dark mixes lend themselves to over watering and the Golds, including the AAA Imperial version are well suited to longer periods between watering. That said, we should always be checking for moisture levels about once per week.

The age of the orchids and their condition may be other factors to consider in deciding which mix to pick. For example, your younger plants with smaller root systems are often times aided by sphagnum based mixes ( the two Golds and the AAA Imperial version). We have found that plants in “sick bay” do much better in the Classic Gold and the Imperial AAA mixes because the high concentration of sphagnum moss in both provides an especially nurturing environment to stressed plants and roots.

How many Imperial Orchid Mixes have you introduced and why are they so popular?

We now have 9 Imperial Orchid Mixes organized by genera and plant type like our original Classic Orchid Mixes. While our original Classic Orchid Mixes are terrific mixes, we have been searching for orchid media that are really extraordinary and as we have found them and added them to our offerings we realized that they really provided an opportunity to stand on their own and not be simply and easily just combined with other existing orchid media like coconut husk, fir barks or Chilean sphagnum. We thought that making mixes with none of these traditional orchid media would be a great alternative for a variety of reasons. Some people and plants need more choices. Some don’t like the dust of fir. Some don’t like coconut husk. Some prefer AAA New Zealand Sphagnum to the less costly and less fluffy Premium Chilean. Based on our order flow since introducing the Imperial Orchid Mixes we know our customers have agreed with our thoughts. We use all of our mixes ourselves and each has its place in our view.

What goes into the Imperial Orchid Mixes?

Each Imperial Orchid Mix is unique, and various ones contain AAA New Zealand Sphagnum, Imported Cork Chips from Portugal, Orchiata™ Monterey Bark from New Zealand, and other media that round out the mix, like sponge rock, or rice hulls, or tree fern etc. Each ingredient is spelled out completely so our customers know precisely what they are buying, just like with our Classic Orchid Mixes – no “secret” ingredients. These are very special mixes, and are perhaps as much defined by what doesn’t go into them as what does. For example, we made a decision to not have any Coconut products in the Imperial Orchid Mixes. Not because they are bad, but because we want to have a clear alternative. Kind of like a vegetarian menu is an alternative in a restaurant. No fir bark exists in the Imperial Orchid Mixes. The bark we use for these exclusive blends is Monterey. The long fibered Sphagnum we use is AAA New Zealand. The only place you will find cork in our mixes is in the Imperial Line unless you design your own in our Select-A-Blend section.

What is so special about cork?

Many orchids love to grow on cork plaques, and in cork tubes which we think look great too. The reason these orchids love cork is because it doesn’t get sopping wet, resists mold, and has craggy surfaces for roots to burrow into. Cork chips, chunks and nuggets make a marvelous addition to mixes because they impart these same qualities and also keep the mix open and airy. They look fantastic in the mix too, and the top of the mix seems to stay fresh and clean looking for longer stretches of time.

Oncidium Orchid Care

The Oncidium family is very large and includes many flower varieties. The most common flower variety is often referred to as the “dancing lady”. This instruction sheet deals with Oncidium types that have thin leaves, pseudobulbs, and branching sprays with flowers colored in yellow and mahogany.


Water when the mix just approaches dryness. This will mean about every 5-7 days. A way to check the mix for moisture is by sticking a wooden pencil into the mix about 3”-4”. When you pull the pencil out, check the wooden end. If it has turned dark in color, the mix is still wet and you should wait a day or two. Oncidiums prefer clean water without a lot of mineral content. Therefore growing best when you use distilled, reverse osmosis or rainwater. Check out our Kent Marine page for more information on reverse osmosis systems. Do not use softened water.


We highly recommend Green Jungle Orchid Food, especially formulated to work with rain, distilled, reverse osmosis water or water low in alkalinity. Fertilize with Green Jungle every time you water, all year round. This is the fertilizer that we developed and use on our own plants. The results have been excellent.
For tap or well water, fertilize with Grow More Urea Free 20-10-20, at the rate of 1/2 tsp. per gallon. Feed every other watering during the summer, and every third watering in winter.


Grow in bright diffused light; east or west windows are ideal. South windows will work but one should be careful of the brilliant sun that will come in during the fall through spring months. If you have miniblinds or sheer curtains, you can break the light so that it is more diffused. One of the best types of artificial light you can provide for your orchids is by using L.E.D. Grow Lights. Be sure to check out our L.E.D. Grow Lights page for more information.


Ideal night temperatures (fall, winter, and spring months) are 60°-64° Fahrenheit. Ideal daytime temperatures are 70°-85°F. Summer temperatures are generally a few degrees warmer.


Humidity levels for these plants should be kept at 40% or above.


Depending on the variety the flowering season can be at any time of year, but is generally heaviest in the fall and spring. Many hybrids can bloom 2-3 times per year. In order to initiate the flower spikes, it is important to grow the plant in an area where the night temperatures fall below 65°. Usually plants growing by a window are a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the house. The flower spikes on Oncidiums generally grow to a medium or tall length and branch out in several directions. Keep a close eye on the spike (when it begins to produce flower buds) for aphids. Oncidiums are one of the most favored orchids of the aphid bug.


Repot every 1 to 2 years as the mix breaks down or as the plant outgrows the pot. Plants potted in a bark mixture should be carefully pulled out of the pot. Clean off the roots of the old mix, being careful not to break the good roots. However, breaking roots when repotting is inevitable. Roots that are bad and should be cut off are those that are brown and mushy or papery. Those roots that are white or tan and are firm to the touch should be left alone. Simply place the plant into a new pot, placing the oldest growth towards the back of the pot so there is room for the newer growths to develop for about 1-2 years. Oncidiums can be divided when there are 6 or more pseudobulbs. Divide, leaving 3 growths per each division. Generally Oncidiums are planted in either an orchid bark mix or New Zealand sphagnum moss mixed with tree fern fiber.

Oncidium Intergeneric (Dancing Lady) Orchids

Repotting maybe done most of the year when the plant is actively growing roots (look for the little green root tips). The best time, which will vary between each variety, is just after flowering and as the plant is producing new bulb growths. Dancing Lady orchids prefer to fill out their pot prior to repotting, and if potted up do so into a pot only a little bigger than the old one. For example if your plant is in a 105mm pot, go up to only a 130 or 140mm pot. Well drained squat pots are best.

The preferred potting mix is either a medium to coarse bark or a medium coco husk chip (CHC) and coarse perlite mix. In general the potting mix should be open and drain well whilst holding a limited amount of water. After repotting sprinkle a teaspoon of Gypsum and half a teaspoon of Dolomite over the potting mix to add calcium and counter any excessive acidity, then add a slow release fertiliser at the manufacturers recommended rate.

If your orchid starts to grow roots over the top of the pot don’t worry, most are epiphytic in their natural habitat, so roots will grow out of the pot in the open air if your growing conditions are right.

Pests and Diseases

The first major pest of Dancing Lady orchids is slugs and snails, which will eat the roots and flower spikes. A few pellets of snail bait placed in the pot will control these, or grow your plant up and away from where slugs and snails can get to them. The other major pest for flower spikes is caterpillars, so keep an eye out and remove when seen. Otherwise a suitable insecticide maybe purchased from your local garden centre.

Other occasional pests are scale, mealy bugs and aphids, which may all be controlled by a suitable botanical oil spray and/or with a recommended insecticide. Be careful to read the instructions and don’t apply on hot days or during hot weather.

Occasionally your orchid will get fungal or bacterial spots on its leaves, which maybe controlled with a suitable fungicide available from your local garden centre. Some varieties prefer to be grown under cover to avoid wet foliage and continued damp potting mix from lengthy rain periods that will increase the occurrence of leaf spots. Most are not threatening to the life of your plant, but do detract from the overall appearance. Some varieties such as Onc. Space Race will get a little black spot on the leaf during cold weather.

Dancing Lady orchids will flower at various times of the year, so check your local supplier regularly for the seasons variety. Some will flower even twice or three times a year, whereas some will flower once a year during a specific time. When your plant starts to flower bring it in under cover and avoid getting water on the flower spike in the last weeks prior to flowering.

Further Information

For further information on growing your Oncidium Intergeneric orchid, visit your local orchid society shows or meetings, where the sharing of growing hints, tips and successes will help you grow and enjoy your orchid for a long time.

© Copyright Leaf & Limb, QLD, Australia (Version 1.2) 2014. This culture sheet provides general information and may not cover every growing/pest/disease/potting mix/flowering situation that may occur.

Gallery of Oncidium Intergeneric (Dancing Lady) Orchids

Most of the orchids do not require soil and use trees for support. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An orchid. Oncidium floridanum, synonym of Oncidium ensatum http://www.nps.gov/bicy/oncidium.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oncidium varicosum (an orchid) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oncidium sphegiferum (Syn. of Grandiphyllum divaricatum (an orchid) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oncidium forbesii (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Oncidium ochmatochilum’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photo of Cambria orchid flowers. “Cambria” is a commercial name for intergeneric hybrids of Odontoglossum, Oncidium, Miltonia, Cochlioda Lindl. and Brassia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clearing out a few old orchid show NOID photos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Miltassia Olmec x Brassia Edvah Loo) South Miami, FL, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brassia gireoudiana “Gireoud’s Brassia” Found in the Orchid room. ideonexus.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barbara Haywood 8 September 2014: I was talking to a friend yesterday about oncidinae and what a variable group of orchids are within this genus. We were talking about the varoius growth habits root systems and what potting mix, pot types were most applicable or suited to the various ones. What are some of other peoples thoughts and ideas on this?

K-w SoundEagle and Cherie Harvey like this.

  • Barbara Haywood I tend to use spagnum moss for Odontioda, Odontoglossom Osmoglossum, Wilsonara, Maclellanara Odontocidiums etc whilst a bark mix for oncidiums. 8 September 2014 at 13:30 · Unlike · 2
  • Hort Power Aren’t all orchids now Oncidiums??? 8 September 2014 at 14:09 · Unlike · 2
  • Hort Power I like to mount most of our Oncidiums, sphag for Odonts, & most of the others I put in a quartz gravel & bark mix or tree fern mulch. 8 September 2014 at 14:12 · Unlike · 2
  • Barbara Haywood Yes Hort Powe it’s certainly getting that crazy with all the blasted changes 8 September 2014 at 14:59 · Unlike · 5
  • Dick Cooper Fresh moving air appears essential (use fans, if necessary) – hang plants about 500mm below 50% shadecloth for better air movement. Protect from frosts (though I don’t get them here). Grow in a sunny position. My mix is basically – medium bark, coarse perlite, 8-10mm river gravel, charcoal, a handfull of 2 of cocopeat – keep your mix fresh so repot as new growth appears and lightly topdress with Dynamic Lifter or similar. Water lots during summer and allow a wet/dry cycle at other times. Fertilise weekly; flush between applications. 8 September 2014 at 19:00 · Unlike · 4
  • Barbara Haywood Thank you very interesting culture Richard, I bench most of my intergenerics and use only spagnum moss. The pure oncidiums I grow in a similar mix to yours just minus the peat as we get ripper frost down to -4°C we heat to about 8°C at bench height. And we do the same with the watering and fetilizing. I only repot when a new growth reaches 3 inches high this seems to be the optimum time. I was told this years ago by a big Odontoglossum grower and hybridizer. Yes we have fans going most of the time and a fogging sytem we use in the summer as the hothouse goes over 50°C We had 16 days in a row outside temperature of over 40°C last summer. We 70% white shade cloth behind clear polycarbonate sheeting on the hothouse, with an extra layer of 70% shade cloth over the top and down the north wall in summer. We grow in pretty extreme conditions here. 8 September 2014 at 19:24 · Unlike · 3
  • Paul Slattery I’ve been potting my plants into hydroleca (expanded clay pellets) and using a reservoir in the base of the pots to control the water supply. I’m using plastic cups for the smaller plants and buckets for my big Brassia. I’ve had them in this stuff for over a year now and they seem happy. 9 September 2014 at 17:15 · Unlike · 2
  • Margaret Lomas Don’t drop the pellets on the floor Paul, not good under your feet! 9 September 2014 at 17:27 · Unlike · 3
  • Barbara Haywood Very interesting Paul I’ve not seen this product, is it like cat litter ? 9 September 2014 at 21:50 · Unlike · 1
  • Paul Slattery It’s more like balls of scoria. I’ve been using it for my Paphs for about 4 years now, with good results. http://www.goldlabel.nl/91/Hydrocorn.aspx Gold Label Hydrocorn (clay pebbles) are manufactured using a mix of the best quality pure clays and are baked… goldlabel.nl
  • Barbara Haywood Thanks Paul will look it up not seen it here in Central Victoria Australia, but might be something similar available in Melbourne. LOL B. 9 September 2014 at 23:08 · Unlike · 1
  • Paul Slattery I get mine from a fella in Echuca, the last time I bought some it was $55 for a 50 litre bag (about the same as buying online when shipping is added). 10 September 2014 at 01:43 · Unlike · 2
  • K-w SoundEagle Richard, is flushing still required between applications of fertilizer, if the fertilizer used is salt-free? 10 September 2014 at 10:26 · Like
  • K-w SoundEagle Hi Barbara, what are the reasons behind your using spagnum moss for Odontioda, Odontoglossom, Osmoglossum, Wilsonara, Maclellanara Odontocidiums etc whilst a bark mix for oncidiums? 10 September 2014 at 10:29 · Like
  • K-w SoundEagle Hydroleca (expanded clay pellets) and other similar materials are frequently used as the staple in hydroponics. Here are some examples from a post that I published earlier at https://queenslandorchid.wordpress.com/…/self-watering…/.
    Self-Watering: Circulatory and Hydroponic Systems with Planting Pipes, Glass Bowls and Biological Ponds queenslandorchid.wordpress.com
  • K-w SoundEagle Barbara, you might be able to acquire hydroleca (expanded clay pellets) and other similar materials at some hydroponics suppliers and/or pet/aquarium shops. 10 September 2014 at 10:38 · Like
  • Barbara Haywood Yes thank you K.W I may look at this in the future. I use the sphagnum moss because these particullar group of orchids respond to it better in my conditions, seem to keep the roots in better condition , maybe cooler in our summer heat. I think the Oncidiums like the wet dry cycle a little more so I use a bark mix, seems to work the best for our temperstures. 10 September 2014 at 10:45 · Unlike · 1
  • Dick Cooper KW, I am not a chemist but as I understand the process, plants need nutrients (NPK and micro-nutrients) to grow and to absorb the nutrients they are converted to ions in order for the plant to absorb them. I use tap water which, in this area, is pretty good, it still contains chemicals added by the local water authorities, i.e. extra ions. The various ions react with each other to form salts. There is a school of thought that considers watering/flushing up to 12 hours before applying fertilizer allows orchid roots to better take the nutrients up. In addition, some of the ions (esp. nitrogen) are taken up by the mix (esp. bark) and by micro-organisms in the mix. These build over time and can damage the roots. You may see evidence of this around the holes at the bottom of pots (a white residue). Another view is that flushing reduces the speed and extent of that residue build-up and thus minimises root damage. 10 September 2014 at 19:01 · Unlike · 1
  • Paul Slattery You are right, Richard. Once a fertiliser salt is dissolved it is in the ionic form and so is available for plants to absorb. Plants don’t really care what form the minerals are in as long as they are able to absorb them, they can usually alter them to suit their purposes. Nitrogen fertiliser is absorbed by the micro-organisms that decompose bark, causing ‘nitrogen drawdown’ in the mix. This is usually only a temporary thing, but can last long enough to cause a deficiency in the plants. The white residue you find around the holes of your pots and on the surface of hydroponic media is usually insoluble so has no effect on the plants, it is merely a waste of a tiny amount of fertiliser. The substance in question would normally be calcium sulphate or calcium phosphate. 10 September 2014 at 19:11 · Unlike · 1
  • Paul Slattery Flushing the mix is still a good idea, though. Is is possible for the fertiliser salts (ingredients) to become quite concentrated in the mix, especially when the plants are only taking up the water because they are not actively growing much. They leave the fertiliser behind which can build up to levels that can damage the roots. If the concentration of the solution outside the roots gets too high (hypertonic) it will stop the roots taking up water and kill the cells. Flushing with plain water is not necessary, using plenty of fresh fert solution is fine. Sometimes the shock of using plain water can cause more damage if things have been allowed to get bad. 10 September 2014 at 19:19 · Unlike · 1
  • Barbara Haywood Yes I can see what you are both refering to Paul and Richard. The key in my opinioin to fetilizing is to do it only when the root tips are actively growing, otherwise its a waste of fetilizer. I flush between fertilizing on a regular basis thus I do not have these build ups on my pots, but have experienced it in the past with high nitrogen fetilizers. Now I use lower nitrogen fertilizer aprox 2 to 3 times per week at 1/4 strength, and no problems. As I said only when root tips are active. 10 September 2014 at 19:42 · Unlike · 2

Pages: 1 2 3

  • Dancing Ladies: Oncidiums and Their Relatives (Orchids) (what-when-how.com)
  • The Desirable Traits for Oncidium and Its Intergeneric Orchids (icogo.org)
  • Oncidium Intergeneric Hybrids (glasshouseorchids.com.au)
  • New York Orchid Show 2013: Oncidiums (mariasorchids.blogspot.com.au)
  • The many faces of Oncostele Wildcat (mariasorchids.blogspot.com.au)
  • Oncidium Orchids (bribieislandorchidsociety.com)
  • Oncidium Orchid Growing (bribieislandorchidsociety.com)
  • Bark Products from New Zealand and South Australia for Growing Orchids in Australia (queenslandorchid.wordpress.com)
  • ONCIDIINAE (ORCHIDACEAE) (flmnh.ufl.edu)
  • Phylogenetics of Maxillarieae: Oncidiinae (Orchidaceae) (flmnh.ufl.edu)
  • Oncidium: The Dancing Lady.
  • Dancing Lady Orchid
  • Brassia Maculata in Bloom

If you’ve mastered the skill of growing orchids like phaelanopsis and dendrobiums, you might be ready to step up to more challenging varieties like ondidium orchids, fancifully known as “Dancing Ladies.” These orchids are a bit pickier about light, temperature, and watering requirements, so do your research carefully before giving them a try. Here are some basics to get you started.

About Oncidium

Oncidium (say “on-SID-ee-um”) orchids are New World orchids, found in South and Central America and the West Indies, with one species in South Florida. There are over 300 species of oncidiums, but the most popular for home growers are the yellow or pink-flowered varieties sold simply as “Dancing Lady.” These are generally large plants, with long and abundant leaves. They flower in late summer or early fall, with dozens of blooms on multiple stems that can last for months. After they finish blooming, they enter a growth cycle, where they put on new leaves. They’re dormant in the early summer as they prepare to bloom again.

Dancing Lady orchids like warm temperatures and moderate humidity. They prefer a minimum of 80 degrees F during the day, with at least 40% humidity. At night, they can tolerate temperatures down to about 55 degrees F. In some areas, you may find it hard to maintain the required temperatures and humidity during the winter months without a greenhouse. However, if you can keep oncidiums in a warm room and provide extra humidity (setting the pot on a shallow tray filled with pebbles and water helps), growing orchids in this family may be a possibility.

Oncidiums tolerate more direct light than some other orchids. They do well in east or west windows, though it doesn’t hurt to soften the light a bit with a sheer curtain. Healthy Dancing Lady orchids have medium green leaves; dark green leaves indicate they aren’t getting enough sun.

Watering oncidiums properly can get tricky. They are very susceptible to root rot, so like other orchids they should never be left sitting in water. In fact, it’s best to let the potting mix dry out about halfway down the pot before watering. Stick your finger or a wood popsicle stick down into the mix. If it still feels wet, wait a few days more. The time between waterings will vary depending on the time of year and the plant’s growth cycle.

Potting and Fertilizing

Orchids need quick-draining potting material. Specially-designed orchid mixes made of bark, sphagnum moss, and other loose fillers are ideal. Do not use traditional potting soil or soil from your garden. Ensure the pot has holes for good drainage. Feed with a weak fertilizer once or twice a month. It’s better to underfeed than overfeed when growing orchids.


When the flowers begin to fade, allow them to drop naturally. Don’t remove the flower spike until it has turned completely brown and dry. Oncidiums prefer to be somewhat pot-bound, but may need re-potting every couple of years. This requires a cautious hand so as not to break the roots. Do a web search before re-potting to find a site that can walk you through the process.

Interested in more on growing orchids? See our guide to Orchids 101 here.

Oncidium Orchid Care

Botanical Name: Oncidium species and hybrids

Most oncidium orchid species produce dozens of small flowers at the same time, giving a spectacular show that lasts for several weeks. The large-lipped flowers may be yellow, white, red, pink, green or brown.

Oncidium varicosum is a popular species, producing a shower of bright, sunny blooms.

The flowers vary greatly, but share one common feature: the large lower petal, called a lip, is always perpendicular to the side winged petals.

The distinctive shape of the blooms, carried on many-branched stems give oncidium orchid its common name: Dancing Lady Orchid. Oncidiums flutter in the breeze, making them “dance.”

In the wild, almost all Oncidium (pronounced on-sid-ee-um) orchids are epiphytes, growing on tree branches where they anchor themselves with their thick roots. They like free-flowing air as in their native habitats. Put them where they’ll enjoy air circulation, away from heat or AC vents.

Several hundred species exist, native to tropical and subtropical habitats, including the high Andes mountains, the humid forests of Jamaica, and the tropical river valleys of Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.

What these dancing sprays of flowers have in common is a love of humidity. If the relative humidity drops below 50%, use a pebble tray or room humidifier to increase the moisture in the air. Grouping plants also helps to maintain the humidity around them. You can mist the foliage every day — they won’t mind.

Oncidium Varieties

Most oncidiums you’ll find are hybrids, involving several species. These complex hybrids produce more flowers, bloom more often, and grow faster than the species. Oncidium hybrids offer some gorgeous varieties.

O. papilio “Butterfly Orchid”

O. varicosum, shown above, is a popular species, producing a shower of bright, sunny blooms.

Oncidium papilio, shown at right, is called the Butterfly Orchid. This is one of the few orchids that bloom in succession, a flower at a time, from spring through autumn. Spectacular colors and easy to grow — what’s not to love?

‘Sharry Baby’ shown below, is an easy orchid for beginners, offering a profusion of red and white, sweetly scented flowers.

‘Sharry Baby’ is a gorgeous Oncidium cultivar that is deliciously scented like chocolate.

Growing Oncidiums Year-Round

Shed some light. Oncidium orchid plants need plenty of light, but not direct sun. If you don’t have a spot near a window, artificial lighting works beautifully. Fluorescent bulbs are efficient. Use 1 warm white tube and 1 cool white tube under a reflector. Place orchids about 6 inches (20 cm) beneath the light for 14-16 hours a day. It’s also important to give them darkness at night. Plants need a rest, too.

To repot…or not. Fir bark medium breaks down after a couple years and needs replaced. The best time to repot your orchid is when new growth begins, shortly after blooming.

Got a reluctant bloomer? Give your orchid slightly cooler nighttime temperatures to spark blooming. A 15° difference will do. Oncidiums will tolerate varying temperatures from 55° nights up to 75° days. Blooming time varies by species and some give more than 1 show of blooms throughout the year. With good oncidium orchid care, you can expect blooms year after year.

Oncidium Orchid Care Tips

Origin: Most from South America

Height: Species vary widely — many range from 12-30 in (30-75 cm).

Light: Good orchid care also includes bright, indirect sunlight. Don’t have space near a bright window? Fluorescent lights work well, too.

Water: Keep the medium lightly moist during the growing season. Be careful not to overwater. Oncidiums store water in their pseudobulbs, making them more tolerant of dry soil than wet. Water less during other times of the year, allowing soil to become almost completely dry between thorough waterings.

Humidity: Moderate, preferably 50-60% relative humidity. Use a humidity tray or room humidifier, if needed.

Temperature: 55-60°F/13-16°C nights and 65-75°F/18-24°C days; slightly cooler nights will help these beauties bloom.

Soil: Orchid potting mix

Fertilizer: Feed during active growth every 3 weeks with an organic orchid fertilizer.

Propagation: Division. Divide into clumps of at least 4 pseudobulbs each.

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