How to grow and care for Vanda Orchids Indoors

Indoor Orchid, Vanda Orchid

Botanical name: Vanda spp
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Vandeae
Subtribe: Aeridinae

Vanda Orchids are popular due to their showy, fragrant, long-lasting and intensely colorful flowers where numerous flowers grow on a lateral flower spike arising from the central stem. They bloom every few months and the flowers last for 2-3 weeks. Most flowers show a yellow-brown color with brown markings but they also appear in green, white, red, orange, purple, pink and burgundy shades. The lip has a small spur. The growth occurs from a single stem and the leaves are highly variable, adapted to their habitat. The stems vary considerably in size with some growing up to 20 ft tall. Vanda orchids are monopodial orchids which do not have pseudobulbs but they have leathery, drought-resistant leaves. They have very large root systems which may require that they be grown in hanging baskets inorder to suspend the roots for adequate room. These orchids do not tolerate disturbance or damage to roots which can result in the plants failing to flower and declining in growth for a season or more. They prefer very high light conditions, warmth, high soil moisture content and regular feeding. If a Vanda Orchid is provided with these conditions it will bloom at any time of the year. Vanda is a genus that is widespread across East Asia, Southeast Asia and New Guinea. Most are epiphytes but some few are terrestrials. The genus name is abbreviated as V. in horticultural journals.

How to Grow Vanda Orchids (Vanda spp)

Light

Vanda Orchids grow best under very bright light with some direct sunshine. A few feet away from a south-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 Vanda 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

If growing Vanda Orchid in a hanging basket, soak the plant daily until the white or silver roots turn color, wait for a few minutes and again saturate the plant. If growing Vanda Orchid in a bark potting medium, water thoroughly during the growing season and maintain the soil consistently moist. 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. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

The best temperatures for Vanda Orchids are between 21-290C. 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

Vanda 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 Vanda Orchids every week 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. In feeding 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

Repot Vanda 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 Vanda Orchids every 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 large enough to accomodate the roots. Use loose, free-draining bark soil. When repotting, shake off excess soil and trim off any dried and shrivelled roots.

Pruning

Pruning Vanda 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 1 in. above the 3rd node from the bottom.

How to Propagate Vanda Orchids (Vanda spp)

Vanda Orchids can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season once flowering is over from stem cutting or from keikis.

Propagating Vanda Orchids from stem cuttings
Vanda Orchids produce aerial roots along the stem at the nodes. Take a cutting from the tip of the plant by cutting between the stem nodes. Ensure the cutting has a healthy aerial root system. Healthy Vanda Orchid aerial roots are white in color with green tips. Apply a fungicide on the cuts. Feed the mother plant with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer to promote the growth of new shoots. Pot up the cutting in fresh orchid soil. Place the set up in a shaded place. Water thoroughly until water comes through the drainage holes and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

Propagating Vanda Orchids from keikis
Vanda Orchids 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 Vanda Orchids (Vanda spp)

  • Brown soft spots on the leaves
  • Brown soft spots on Vanda 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 Vanda 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 Vanda 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 Vanda Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Water Vanda Orchid thoroughly, maintain the soil consistently moist and never allow the soil to dry out.

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

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

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

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

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Vanda Orchids are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects, Slugs and Snails. Isolate the affected plant and treat appropriately

Toxicity

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

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