Vanda Orchids

The Vanda Orchid is a beautiful flowering genus with numerous varieties with slight differences in appearance and growth habits. It belongs to the Orchidaceae family and is an epiphytic plant with adventurous roots that grab onto the bark of trees for support. Vandas are native to Asia and can be seen rowing in tropical regions. Their most distinguishing feature from other orchids is their flat petal blooms that come in a wide range of colors including blue.



Depending on the species, Vanda Orchids can become extraordinarily impressive plants. The leaves of Vanda Orchids are leathery and grow very dense. Most species are strap-leaved, only a few have a cylindrical shape. They have a lush green color. The inflorescences grow almost upright out of the leaf axils at the top of the plant. The very large flowers often give off a captivating fragrance and have bright, intense colors. Vanda Orchids are predominantly unicolored, but some species are multicolored.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

1 - 4 feet


Width-Circumference (Avg)

0.5 - 1.5 feet


Approximate pH

5.5 - 6.5


Types of Vanda Orchids


There are around 80 species and many more hybrids and subspecies in the Vanda genus of orchids. Here are a few of the many beautiful species of Vanda:

  • Vanda coerulea: Known as blue vanda, autumn lady’s tresses, and blue orchid, this vanda is the only orchid with really blue flowers. The plant grows between 20 to 30 gorgeous and long-lasting flowers at a time.


  • Vanda coerulescens: The Sky Blue Vanda (V. coerulescens)is a compact orchid species found in India, eastern Himalayas, Myanmar, Thailand, and Yunnan in China. It commences flowering in winter to spring with about 12 to 20 lilac-blue flowers per inflorescence. Each flower, which has a darker indigo blue lip, is fragrant and measures about 3 cm.


  • Vanda curvifolia: Vanda curvifolia has striking lance-shaped foliage from which heavy racemes of fiery flowers bloom. The blossoms are reddish-orange in color and accented by two bright-yellow lobes.


  • Vanda tessellata: Commonly referred to as the lattice-like patterned flower vanda or checkered vanda thanks to the intricate and multi-colored designs of the flowers. Most flowers have a bright yellow background with brown lines and white edges.


  • Vanda sanderiana: Also known as waling-waling or Sander’s vanda, this flashy orchid has exuberant pink and white flowers that add life to your garden.


  • Vanda tricolor: Commonly found in Laos and Indonesia, particularly in Java and Bali, is a species of Vanda orchids known as the Vanda tricolor or the Soft Vanda or Three-Colored Vanda. The Soft Vanda is a large-sized orchid that grows on exposed branches of trees.


  • Vanda roeblingiana: sometimes known as Roebelen’s vanda, it has lush foliage and stunning red and yellow flowers with five elongated petals.


  • Vanda Denisoniana: It features bright, cheerful blossoms in sherbet shades that vary from buttery yellow to tangerine orange. Some varieties have speckles in similar hues and bright-white centers.


  • Vanda scandens: another beautiful vanda that is considered an endangered species due to the loss of its original habitat in Mindanao island, Philippines.


  • Vanda bensonii: It features fragrant five-petaled flowers that are about 2 inches in diameter. Surrounding their white and light-purple centers, they have five yellow-colored petals that are heavily marked with reddish-brown speckles.


  • Vanda testacea: Best known for its tiny yellow flowers with their distinct blue lips, this species grows in high elevations of 1,500 feet and above. Flowers appear in clusters of 6 to 20 at a time and last for weeks.


  • Vanda miniata: The plant has two commonly seen scientific names because it was previously classified within the Ascocentrum genus, which has since been merged with the Vanda genus. They feature the lush, green foliage that is mostly associated with orchids. Plus, they produce tall, upright racemes of fiery blossoms that range from bright yellow to orange to reddish-orange in color.


  • Vanda flabellata: It comes in several varieties that feature different colors of flowers, speckles, and lips that blossom in shades of yellow, pink, and white. The flowers of most Vanda flabellata varieties have fan-shaped ruffled lips, which is where the flower gets its designated species name “flabellata” which means fan-like.


Growing Vanda Orchids


How to Grow Vanda Orchids


It’s fair to say that growing vanda orchids is an easy and straightforward process. You don’t have to have plenty of gardening experience or need to get too technical. All you’ll need is a vanda orchid in a basket, specialist orchid feed, and specialist orchid compost. The whole process of planting the vanda orchid doesn’t take more than 15 minutes on average. With that in mind, let’s begin.

  1. Make sure the specialized orchid compost is wet. The plant doesn’t benefit from dry compost.

  2. Arrange the baskets of vanda orchids in rows in a place that doesn’t get the direct sunlight. Partial shade is what the perennial plants need.

  3. Put holes in the bottom of the baskets to improve drainage.

  4. Add the specialist orchid compost and water the plant until water comes off the bottom of the basket.

  5. If you are using liquid fertilizer, add it to the watering can at half strength.

  6. Vanda orchids like all other orchids have strong fleshy root growth. Check the vanda regularly and move it to a larger basket if you see the roots filling the current one.

  7. Make sure the specialized orchid compost reaches the roots of the vanda. Mix it well with the soil every time you add it.

  8. Now just wait for the flowering bloom to brighten your day.


How to Get Vanda Orchids to Bloom


If you are wondering why your temperamental vanda isn't blooming, you aren't alone. Healthy vandas reward their diligent owners with profuse blooms in vibrant colors throughout the year. So, how do you persuade your vanda to bloom? If you are fertilizing your plant enough, there are two main reasons a vanda that is old enough to bloom won't produce flowers: lighting problems and dehydration.


Move your vanda away from a super bright light to a spot with slightly more subdued light. Yes, vandas love very bright light, but you may need to adjust the timing of when the plant gets its light. Try moving your plant to a spot where there's intensely bright morning light, but more subdued sunlight the rest of the day.


Make sure the roots are healthy and hydrated. They should be plump, green, and not dried out. A dehydrated orchid won't have enough energy to bloom. This may require more watering. Or, soak the roots in a bucket of fresh, room temperature water for 15 minutes once a day.


Vanda Orchid Care


Vanda orchids are not the best choice for beginners to grow. Even among more experienced growers, the plants require certain elements that can be hard to deliver at home: high humidity, high temperatures, bright light, and good airflow, as well as periods of drenching "rain" followed by a dry period. Additionally, these specimens can easily grow to 5 or 6 feet in length when including their curtain of aerial roots. For these reasons, vandas are better suited for a greenhouse, where they can flourish under overhead irrigation and sunlight.


Vandas are monopodial orchids, meaning they grow from a single stem with roots emerging from the bottom. The leaves are alternating, climbing the stem in a ladder-like progression. Older vandas frequently branch, and if left undivided the plants can grow into very large specimens. Vandas flower from spikes that emerge from the central stem and poke out between the leaves.


Vanda orchids are known for large, robust roots that are difficult to contain in any sort of pot. Vandas are primarily epiphytic, meaning they attach their roots to the surface of a nearby plant or debris to obtain moisture and nutrients, rather than growing in soil.

Light


Vandas require bright light, but they generally don't thrive in full sunlight. They can acclimate to full sun, though plants grown in those conditions are generally washed out and not as healthy as those grown under a shade cloth to take the edge off strong sunlight. Be aware of the species of vanda you have, as some require more sunlight than others.


Soil


These orchids naturally grow in rocky areas with little soil. Their large roots meander through the air and grasp onto nearby trees and other objects. Growing them in a typical potting soil can kill the plants. Instead, opt for a basket that allows good airflow for the roots. To keep the plant in place, add bark, peat moss, or another soilless medium to the basket. You also can use a potting medium specifically made for orchids. Eventually, the roots will attach to the basket to hold the plant upright.


Water


Vandas require a great deal of water. In periods of high temperatures they might need to be watered twice a day. Water roughly once a week during winter dormancy. Keep the container's medium consistently moist but not soggy during the growing season.


Temperature and Humidity


Vandas prefer temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They can tolerate lower temperatures, but prolonged exposure to cold can have a profound effect on a plant's growth and flowering. Exposure to any temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can cause delayed flowering for up to a year.


Likewise, vandas require high humidity to thrive. They need a humidity level of at least 60 percent, and preferably around 80 percent. To raise the humidity, place your plant on a tray of gravel filled with water, and don't let the roots sit directly in the water.


Fertilizer


Vandas are heavy feeders, and well-fed plants bloom better. Fertilize weekly with a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer throughout the growing season. You can switch to a high-phosphorus fertilizer on every third application to promote better blooms. During cool weather, cut back the fertilizer to every two to four weeks.


Propagating Vanda Orchids


Vanda orchids are only rarely propagated from seeds, as the seedlings are very delicate and the process can take a long time. Instead, these orchids are usually propagated from cuttings.


Vanda orchids develop small offshoots with leaves, usually found just above the main root structure. When one of these offshoots has two or three leaves and aerial roots, you are ready to propagate the cuttings. Follow these simple steps to propagate cuttings:

  1. When the offshoot is 2 to 3 inches long, use a sterilized garden cutting tool to carefully cut it away from the main stem—offshoot leaves and roots in one section.

  2. Replant the shoot in an orchid growing mix. Be sure to use the right container with plenty of air circulation and drainage, such as a basket or clay pot.

  3. Keep it constantly moist as the roots anchor themselves in the growing medium.

  4. Water and feed the plant as you would an established plant.


Potting and Repotting Vanda Orchids


Vandas don't need repotting often, maybe every 2 to 3 years as the plant outgrows the space, but the aerial roots don't mind hanging out of the basket. If they need more space and you like to keep them contained, you can simply place the plant with its old basket into a new, larger basket. Work fresh growing media around the roots, but avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible, as this can seriously stress the plant. If you prefer to completely repot your orchid, take these steps:

  1. Choose a basket or clay pot that's about 1 inch larger in diameter than the old container.

  2. Firmly and gently pull the plant by its base from the old container. If you are pulling your orchid from a clay pot, sometimes it helps to simply break the pot with the tap of a hammer and release the plant that way.

  3. Rinse the roots in clear, fresh water. Trim off any dead or rotted root matter.

  4. If you are using a clay pot, fill it about a third of the way up with pebbles for drainage. Baskets have better drainage so there's no need for this step.

  5. Put the plant in its new container and spread out the roots.

  6. If you are using a basket, weave the roots through the basket slots and wire the stem base in place with plant wire. Use soilless growing media to further hold the plant in place.

  7. Add the soilless potting medium to both a basket or clay pot to further anchor the plant.


Pests and Plant Diseases


Mealybugs will be the biggest problem with this orchid and you'll have to search for them as they often hide inside the plant where the leaf and stem meet. Scale and aphids can also all be problems for vanda orchids. A carefully applied insecticidal soap or oil applied is the best remedy.


Common Problems With Vanda Orchids


Vanda orchids are sensitive plants that can be plagued with problems if they don't receive just the right amount of light and water. The most common cause of plant death is too much or too little water. Here are some signs of common problems with vanda orchids:


Shriveling Leaves


Vandas love their water, but overwatering will cause the plant to grow slowly and develop root rot, indicated by leaves that begin to shrivel. Under-watered plants will also result in shriveled leaves.


Disfigured Flowers


Overwatering a vanda orchid may cause the flowers to swell and develop blisters.


Sticky Substance on Buds and Leaves


You may think you have a pest infestation that's producing "honeydew," but this sticky substance on your buds is actually a natural sap the orchid produces. The sap may also drip onto the leaves and make them sticky. Simply dissolve the sap by misting the buds and leaves with water.


Leaves Turning Yellowish Green


Too much light is rare for these orchids, but if they get too much direct sun, vandas will turn yellowish-green or red.


Spindly Growth


Too little light causes the plant to produce deep green leaves, spindly growth, and weak flowers.


Uses


Vanda orchids are beloved for their beautiful, alluring, and often fragrant blossoms, but they have several other uses and benefits, too.


Cosmetic


Certain vanda orchids contain compounds that have been shown to be beneficial as a moisturizing ingredient in cosmetics. As a result, they have been used to help reduce common signs of aging.


Medicinal


The juice of blue vanda orchids contains compounds that have been used as eye medicine in drops intended to treat conditions such as blindness, cataracts, and glaucoma.


Other uses


They are best used as ornamental plants, for indoor spaces as hanging plants, or in pots, they produce a sweet-smelling fragrance and can bloom for many weeks.

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