Oncidium Surprise

(After a brief “holiday hiatus,” it’s time to get back to blogging!)

A few weeks ago while I was watering my plants, I was surprised to see that my oncidium orchid had started to spike, i.e., develop a flower stalk.

Oncidium Spike

Oncidium Spike

Oncidium is a genus of orchids that includes over 500 different species. The most familiar ones have yellow flowers on a large, airy inflorescence. These are sometime called “dancing lady” oncidiums because, with a little imagination, the flowers look like women in hoop skirts. The oncidium I’m growing is the variety “Sharry Baby.” Instead of yellow flowers, the blossoms are brown/maroon and what makes them unique is that they have a chocolate scent.

Single Sharry Baby Bloom

Single Sharry Baby Blossom

My Sharry Baby was purchased in the spring. The greenhouse was getting rid of a number of them because they were past their prime. I’d never grown an oncidium before but this seemed like the right time to try it.

I read that oncidiums are easy to grow but need a lot more light than a phalaenopsis. After repotting the plant in a mixture of sphagnum moss and bark, I put the plant outside during the summer where it got some sunlight but was also protected by a tree. While outside the plant grew a new pseudobulb (an above ground storage organ) and seemed to be doing well. When the weather cooled I brought it inside and kept it in an east facing window.

While the plant looked healthy, I wasn’t sure if it would bloom or not. If it did bloom, I didn’t expect to see a spike until sometime in the spring. That’s why the December spike surprised me so.

I still don’t know how large the flower stalk will be or how long it will take to develop. All I do know is that soon I should be having a Sharry Baby oncidium blossoming in my house. When it happens, I’ll post some pictures!

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