Vanda orchids are ones of the most precious orchids. They have large, bright, showy flowers (violet, white, yellow, red, brown and even green and blue). All representatives of this genus come from Asia and New Guinea. The word “Vanda” comes from Sanskrit.
Types of Vanda orchids
They can be divided by their growth habit to terete-leaved Vanda, semi-terete leaved Vanda and broad-leaved Vanda. In nature, most Vandas grow on most top tree’s branches, which means that they need more sun than most other orchids, as well as more aerating for roots and less watering. Some terete-leaved Vandas are terrestrial orchids and grow on plains with no shade. Vanda orchids are monopodial. They have a stem with often succulent leaves and thick roots with profound velamen layer, which aids them to collect all possible water. Flowers come in racemose inflorescences. The majority of Vandas are rather big orchids, but some intergenerics, closely related to Ascocentrum genus, are medium to small sized (such as famous Ascocenda ‘Princess Mikasa’).
How to cultivate Vanda depends on what species you possess. Terete-leaved Vanda species should be grown potted in an orchid mix, they require regular watering, and also require extremely high light levels to thrive and flower. It is no joke when you say “there is no too much sun for terete-leaved Vanda”. Vanda’s growth conditions require full sun, warmth, regular watering, and feeding with balanced fertilizers. One of the most significant terete-leaved Vanda is Vanda ‘Miss Joaquin’, which is a floral emblem of Singapore, in tropical areas terete-leaved Vanda, such as ‘Miss Joaquin’, are popular and easy to grow outdoor plants with beautiful showy flowers.
Epiphytic Vanda species are more difficult to grow. They are prone to rotting and require special care. That is why Vandas are not very good choice for beginners in orchid growing. There are some general considerations about proper Vanda care. First, they are mostly “warm” orchids and did not tolerate cold (except blue-flowered hybrids, as they have cold-tolerant Vanda coerulea in their pedigree). Secondly, they are also very sun-loving orchids, and without proper light, they will not bloom. Of course, they are not such extreme as terete-leaved Vanda ‘Miss Joaquin’. Midday’s full sun could cause leaf burn, but some sun in the morning and the second day’s part is very preferred. The third thing to know is that overwatering is deadly for them. They have one of the thickest velamen layer on their roots, which means that in wet conditions roots receive less oxygen, and such anaerobic conditions quickly cause roots rotting. In nature they have to hope on irregular rains and mist, that is why they have drought-tolerant leaves (some of them are even succulent) and extremely thick velamen layer, but it became a disadvantage in wet conditions.
Three ways how to grow epiphytic Vanda orchids
The best way to grow Vandas is to grow them bare-rooted in wooden baskets, as they have extremely long roots. If they are grown this way, you have to water them every day and feed with a balanced fertilizer once a week. Vandas are heavy feeders, they grow fast and without a constant macro and micro supply they do not flower and grow well. Bare rooted Vanda plants are tolerant to rotting, but require daily care.
The second way to grow Vanda orchids is to grow them in pots with extremely big pieces of bark. Potted Vanda requires less watering (once a week in summer months and twice a month at cold winter months), but this is not a very good way to grow a healthy Vanda plant. First, growing in pot doesn’t mimic its natural growing conditions, because a pot doesn’t provide enough room for Vanda’s large root system. It is extremely wet even if you use perforated pots, and you cannot see all root system, which means that there is a chance that you doesn’t notice rotting. Because of this, potted Vandas are very prone to rotting and root loss.
And the third way to grow Vanda is to grow them in a special glassware (“Vanda bowel” or “Vanda vase”). Retailers often have Vanda orchids for sale in glassware. Using a vase creates high humidity around vanda roots, which means that you can reduce watering and water them not daily but once a week. Also, the vase is quite aesthetic and can make its root system more accurate. Roots located in vanda vase grow only within a clearly delineated zone of the vase. Nevertheless, we would not recommend growing Vandas in a vase, because it collects water. In such conditions, roots are not provided with all required oxygen, and they are prone to rotting, especially in cold winter months. In summer, there is a chance that green algae will grow within a glass vase, which is also can cause rotting.
If you have windows oriented to the north, your Vanda plants will not receive required sun, and you will have to use artificial light. With proper fluorescent tubes or metal-halide lamp, you can grow Vanda even without natural sun at all, but a natural sun is highly recommended for Vanda orchids.
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