How to grow and care for Dancing Lady Orchids Indoors

Indoor Orchid, Oncidium Orchid

Botanical name: Oncidium spp
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Cymbidieae
Subtribe: Oncidiinae

Dancing Lady Orchids also called Golden Shower Orchids or Spray Orchids are popular Indoor Orchids which are grown for their profusion of brightly colored flowers with a dominant enormous lip. They produce a profusion of small flowers with a dominant enormous lip which partially blocks the small petals and sepals. Dancing Lady orchids are magnificent bloomers where a well cared for plant can produce 6-7 branched sprays of flowers which look like a cloud of buttery butterflies which last for weeks. Most of the Oncidiums grown indoors have large pseudobulbs. Long leaves about 2 ft long emerge from the pseudobulbs. The roots are a mass of thin white roots. Oncidium is a genus of orchids distributed across South America, Central America and West Indies. They usually occur in seasonally dry areas. The genus name Oncidium is derived from the Greek word onkos meaning "swelling" in reference to the callus at the lower lip. The genus name is abbreviated as Onc. in horticultural journals. Many hybrids and cultivars of Dancing Lady Orchids have been developed. Flowers are available in shades of yellow, red, white and pink.

How to Grow Dancing Lady Orchids (Oncidium spp)

Light

Dancing Lady Orchids grow best under bright light with some direct sunshine. A few feet away from a south- or west-facing window is ideal. Keep them away from hot sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves. Regularly turn the pot to ensure the plant gets adequate light on all sides. A Dancing Lady Orchid that is receiving the right amount of light has light-green leaves. Dark green leaves indicate that the orchid needs more light. Yellow leaves means the orchid is receiving too much light. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Water Dancing Lady Orchids thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering in the cold period. Drooping or wrinkly leaves indicate underwatering. Use tepid, chlorine-free water as orchids are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Avoid wetting the foliage as it can lead to fungal diseases. These orchids are more tolerant to dry soil due to their tubular shaped leaves which are designed to reduce water loss through transpiration. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

The best temperatures for Dancing Lady Orchids are between 13-290C. Warmer days and cooler night temperatures with a difference of 10-150C are ideal. Cool nights are essential to trigger flowering. Ensure there is good air circulation as orchids cannot tolerate hot and stuffy conditions. Keep them away from draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Dancing Lady Orchids require a humid environment. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth. Do not mist the leaves as it can lead to fungal diseases.

Feeding

Feed Dancing Lady Orchids every 4 weeks during the growing season with a weak solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Do not feed an orchid that is in flower. On feeding orchids, it is better to err on the side of underfeeding than overfeeding. Overfeeding may result in loss of roots thus death of the orchid. It can also lead to vegetative growth instead of flower production. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Dancing Lady Orchids bloom best when they are pot-bound. Repot Dancing Lady Orchids only when growth begins to suffer. When the orchid has outgrown its pot and the new growth reaches out over the edge of the pot or when the soil has broken down completely. Basically repotting Dancing Lady Orchids every 1-2 years should be adequate. Repot only when new growth begins, shortly after blooming is over. Use a pot with proper drainage holes or slits; the roots need good air circulation. The pot should be only 1 size larger than the previous one. Use loose, free-draining bark soil. When repotting, shake off excess soil and trim off any dried and shrivelled pseudobulbs. Large orchids (ones with about 6 or more pseudobulbs) should be divided, (leaving 3 shoots on each section) to propagate new plants.

Pruning

Pruning Dancing Lady Orchids is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife. When flowering is over, cut the flower stalk at the point where it meets the leaves.

How to Propagate Dancing Lady Orchids (Oncidium spp)

Dancing Lady Orchids can be propagated from rhizomes or from keikis.

Propagating Dancing Lady Orchids from rhizomes
Dancing Lady Orchids can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season once flowering is over. Gently split the rhizome into sections. Leave at least 3 shoots on each section. Seperate the roots attached to each division from the mother root ball. Remove the old potting soil attached to the roots. Place each section in the center of the pot. Bury the roots in the soil while ensuring that the bottom of the pseudobulb is level with the top of the soil. The best pot should be about 1-2 in. larger than the pseudobulb. Ensure the pot has enough drainage holes and slits to prevent root-rot. Place the set up in a shaded place until they have established their own roots. Water the new Dancing Lady Orchids lightly to enhance root development. Stake each newly repotted plant.

Propagating Dancing Lady Orchids from keikis
Dancing Lady Orchids naturally produce "baby" orchids called "keiki" which normally appear on an old or new flower spike. Keikis are identical copies of the parent plant. Keiki growth can be triggered by prolonged exposure to high temperature during the final phase of spike growth. The keiki can be detached from the mother when about one year old when it has developed 2-3 leaves and 1-3 in. long roots. Pot up the keiki in fresh potting medium. Direct the roots downwards and provide support for the keiki. Place the set up in a shaded place. Mist the keiki regularly to maintain a humid enviroment.

Common Problems in Growing Dancing Lady Orchids (Oncidium spp)

  • Brown soft spots on the leaves
  • Brown soft spots on Dancing Lady Orchid leaves are an indication of a fungal disease; remove the affected leaves immediately to prevent further spread.

  • Brown hard and dry spots on leaves
  • Exposure of Dancing Lady Orchids to direct sunshine will result in scorch marks which are brown hard and dry spots on the leaves. Move the orchid to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunshine.

  • Mould on leaves
  • This is an indication of Powdery Mildew Disease. Misting the leaves in Dancing Lady Orchids may lead to mildew growth if the water does not evaporate quickly. Ensure good air circulation and stop misting.

  • Limpy and droopy leaves
  • Limpy and droopy leaves in Dancing Lady Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Water Dancing Lady Orchid thoroughly, maintain the soil consistently moist and allow only the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.

  • Dark-green leaves
  • Dark green leaves in Dancing Lady Orchid indicate that the plant is not getting enough light. Move the orchid to a brighter spot. The leaves of a Dancing Lady Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light-green.

  • Yellowish leaves
  • Yellowish leaves in Dancing Lady Orchid indicate that the plant is getting too much light. Move the orchid to a shadier spot. The leaves of a Dancing Lady Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light-green.

  • Leaf tips turn black and die
  • The cause of black leaf tips in Dancing Lady Orchid is the presence of chemicals like chlorine and flourides in water. Use chlorine-free water only.

  • No blooms
  • Too little light for Dancing Lady Orchids will result in no blooms. Move the plant to a brighter spot. Overfeeding Dancing Lady Orchids can result in vegetative growth instead of flowers. Feed the orchid once monthly with a weak solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

Toxicity

Dancing Lady Orchids (Oncidium spp) are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.

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