The Vanda genus includes over 70 different orchid species, all native to tropical Asia. With truly splendid flowers similar to those of Phalaenopsis, Vanda orchids are equally suited to growing indoors in our temperate climates and are often available in stores.
Though they’re resilient and easy to care for, they don’t really like growing in pots. And triggering repeat blooming is rather difficult! Here are out tips on how to care for your Vanda orchids and lead them to bloom again.
Key Vanda orchid facts
Botanical name – Vanda
Height – 8 inches to 6 feet (20 to 100 cm)
Bearing – monopodial
Blooming – several times a year (depends on the cultivar)
Flower color – pink, purple, orange, blue (depends on cultivar)
Exposure – lots of light
Hardiness – not hardy
Soil – very light, sphagnum
Propagation – keiki or stem division
Diseases and pests – rot, aphids, red mites, scale
Uses – hanging suspension, basket, vase
Botanical description of Vanda orchids
Vanda orchids are monopodial plants, which means they’ve only got a singe “foot” or stem. These epiphyte plants don’t have any pseudobulb, and they send many aerial roots out. Leaves are long and narrow, sheathed together and fanning out.
Vanda orchid flowers look a lot like those of Phalaenopsis, unfurling large wide flowers up to 6 inches across (15 cm). They’re very colorful. Depending on which cultivar you come across, colors vary greatly, ranging from delicate pink hues to orange and even blue! Their beauty is enhanced even further thanks to the ornate markings on their slender petals.
Growing and caring for a Vanda orchid
Choosing the container
Find ways to avoid putting your Vanda orchids in a pot. Indeed, they only truly thrive when roots can roam wild and free.
- A great solution is to suspend the plant with wire (or in a coconut fiber basket) and let it spread, misting its roots often to keep them moist.
- Another option is to settle your Vanda orchid in a wide-rimmed container overfilled with sphagnum (or, if not available, slivers of bark).
- When growing it in a vase, use a clear, see-through container, and make sure water never sits at the bottom of it.
Exposure and location
The Vanda orchid thrives with temperatures in the 65-80°F range (18 to 26 °C). It can survive lower temperatures down to 50-55°F (10-13°C) but this completely blocks growth. On the upside, it does great during summer heat waves, easily withstanding heat into the hundreds (105°F or 40°C).
This you must know: Vanda orchids are notoriously difficult to get to bloom! To increase chances of flowers, settle it in a very well-lit spot. A lean-in or a large window facing the equator are perfect.
Most Vanda will require whole-day exposure to sunlight to survive and bloom. Be careful, though: it will suffer under direct sun during dry summers!
- Smart tip: the ideal setting for a Vanda orchid is the brightest spot in a bathroom: maximum moisture!
Triggering Vanda to bloom again
What generally triggers blooming in Vanda orchids is a bout of warm weather after a longer period of cooler temperatures. To recreate this cycle, move your orchid to a cooler room during winter, or simply open a nearby window in fall as temperatures start dropping.
- For hanging Vanda, dip the plant’s roots for an hour in a pail filled with soft water. Ideally, you’d do this every day in summer, and only 1 or 2 times a week in winter. In addition, every few hours if you can, mist water on the roots.
- If growing your Vanda in a vase, water only twice a week in summer and every 10 days in winter. The vase helps retain moisture.
- When in a basket, your Vanda won’t need as much water thanks to all the humidity locked up by the sphagnum moss. Consequently, watering very 2-3 days is fine in summer, versus every 15 days in winter. Wait for the substrate to have dried out before dunking the plant again.
During the growth phase, go ahead and add ‘special orchid fertilizer’ as you water your Vanda.
Pixabay: aidah, Rainer Berns, Hans Braxmeier, Hartono Subagio