All the excess water needs to drain out of the pot after watering your orchid, this will prevent rotting roots; many orchids grow on trees in the wild where their roots are exposed to the air.

Check this section again for more tips.

Most orchids we see in cultivation need to be at least four years old to bloom fairly well; many are much, much older. The large Phalaenopsis plants you see in this website are generally 7 to 9 years old.

Cloud Forest Orchids (Oncidiinae)
Care and Growing Tips
(applies both to tall and short kinds)

This group of orchids is native to "cloud forests", higher elevation jungles from Central America south to Peru, in the lower slopes of the Central American Cordilleras and South American Andes mountains. In this climate, whose moisture is provided more by fogs that roll in repeatedly throughout the day and night, there is little variation in temperature, day length, or seasons - situated so near the equator, at elevations of 3000 to 5000 feet, one could say that it's always Spring.

Almost all may be kept cool or warm - by which we mean nothing more than comfortable indoor temperatures, 50 to 60 degrees F. at night, with a temperature increase during the day of about 10 to 15 degrees. They readily tolerate higher temperatures, but most (aside from the golden yellow Oncidium) should really not be exposed for any length of time to temperatures in the 90s. On the cool side, they are perfectly happy with nights as low as 40 degrees F occasionally and 45 degrees routinely. Temperature is not a factor in persuading these orchids to bloom again, except in the case of golden yellow oncidiums, which prefer temperatures no lower than 55 - ever!

As with many orchids, these require watering frequently enough to maintain a level of moisture in the pot that is not dripping wet at all times, nor dry ever; evenly, consistently moist. Of course it will be wetter just after watering but the point is to never let the plants dry out completely. They can be watered best by placing them in a sink and running cold water into the pot for 10 or 15 seconds, or alternatively an ice cube can be placed on the bark medium in the pots and allowed to melt, the slower trickle of water providing enough moisture to sustain the plant. In this second method, the plants should nonetheless be watered thoroughly from time to time to allow minerals deposited in the bark medium to be rinsed out. Morning is the best time to water any orchids. Twice a week while blooming will usually be sufficient for a large plant; if more than two flower stems are present, three times may be required. When not blooming, once per week is usually enough.

These orchids greatly appreciate frequent applications of very mild dilutions of fertilizer. Many commercial brands work well, such as Miracle Grow, Peters, Dyna Grow, and so on; in most cases, the label will provide information on how much fertilizer to add to a gallon of water to make a solution - but it is best to make a far, far weaker one. For example, if the label calls for 1 tablespoon of fertilizer granules per gallon of water, to be applied once per month, try instead about one half teaspoon of granules per gallon, applied every other watering. Premixed fertilizer can be kept for some time under a sink, or in a cabinet out of reach of children (and away from light, which will allow algae to grow in the water in unsightly fashion).

These are orchids of brightly shady forests, and so their needs for light can be met easily. One to two hours of full sun in the early morning, OR sun diminished by sheer curtains for a longer period, OR very bright shade, such as a spot in a sunroom that happens never to be in full sun, are some variations any of which would provide enough light to allow the plants to grow and bloom.

The last item of concern is you! Take a little time to admire the vivid colors; go closer and explore the intricacies of the floral structure. We think you'll find a bit of peace of mind, a brief mental vacation in your piece of tropical mountain paradise.

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