CLAN Tropicals

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   The term Vanda is credited to Sir William Jones, who in his Asiatic Researches in 1795, first used the name Vanda, an original Sanskrit word for a common orchis species of Bengal and northeast India, as well as a name for a mistletoe species found in Indian oak trees (Vandaca). The descriptive term vandaceous is now applied to allied genera of similar habit. The genus Vanda was established by Dr. Robert Brown, in 1820. In describing the genus Vanda, Dr. Brown used, as the type species, the presently known Vanda tessellata which he then called Vanda roxburghii. Brown's description was first published in the Botanical Register for 1820 plate 505.

   Members of this genera range from India, Ceylon, Assam, Burma, Thailand, Indo China, China, Malaya Archipelago including Indonesia and New Guinea, northward into the Philippines and as far south as the northern coast of Australia. While these monopodial types have an extensive range, it is generally tropical in nature. In fact, most vandaceous genera inhabit very warm areas from sea level to 1700 feet (500 meters) elevation and seldom, experience temperatures below 500F. (100 Celsius). Included in this group are species and hybrids of the following genera: Aerides, Angraecum, Ascocentrum, Euanthe, Gastrochilus, Neofinetia, Papilionanthe, Plectrelminthus, Renanthera, Rhynchostylis, Saccolabium, Sarcanthus, Trichoglottis, Vanda, Vandopsis, and a number of man made genera, such as Aranda, Ascocenda, Mokara, to name a few.

    All vandaceous orchids are monopodial (one foot), which is a growth form where a single stem continues to grow from its apex (top) year after year. Members of the Vandaceous genera are characterized by the unlimited growth in length of the stem, combined with the entire absence of pseudobulbs. Their leaves alternate in two opposite ranks(distichous), flat and keeled on back side (strap leave), or terete (pencil shaped) and semi-terete ( combination of first two). Inflorescence comes out of the leaf axil or stem, erect, few flowers to many flowers. Flowers are showy and colorful, often large.


   Vandaceous genera grow best in high light intensity. If possible full eastern sun (morning), up until noon should be given. Observation of the leaf structure can be your best guide to the correct light conditions for which a type is particularly suited. The terete (pencil like, ie;Papilionanthe) or semi-terete foliage will tolerate full sun (maximum light) if acclimated properly. However, the flattened surfaces of strap-leaf foliage will absorb more heat. Unless protected, during the hottest part of the day, strap leaves will burn in full sun. It has been reported that vandaceous species and modern vandaceous hybrids can be grown and flowered successfully in low light (i.e., Phalaenopsis light). As a rule of thumb, if growing in low light, reduce the water and fertilizers frequency.


   Plants should not be exposed to temperatures below 500F. (100Celsius) and will tolerate temperatures up to 100 0F (380 Celsius). At higher temperatures, air circulation and humidity must be increased. Increased air circulation allows frequent applications of water to the foliage. The increased watering can prevent possible dehydration and burning when temperatures reach the higher levels.


    Vandaceous Orchids enjoy frequent watering, during their growing period. The frequency of watering is relative to the container, the temperature, air circulation, and if any water retaining medium is in the container. Watering should be done, so the roots are dry within a few hours. In the warmer periods, several waterings a day can be done, without worry, if the roots can dry quickly. The increased watering provides cooling effects, as well as prevents possible dehydration and burning. The roots are designed to absorb water quickly, and if grown in baskets and/or net pots, without medium, over watering will never be a problem.


   Vandaceous plants highly resent being disturbed, so re potting should be undertaken only when absolutely necessary. The best time is in late spring, such as April or May, after all flowering has ceased. Avoid disturbing the root system any more than necessary. To minimize root damage, a warm water soak for 10 minutes, will make most roots very pliable and easy to manipulate.

Slat baskets, either plastic or hardwood, are the best container for Vandaceous orchids. The baskets allow free air flow over the roots, and eliminate over watering problems. Alternatives are slotted plastic net pots , or clay orchid pots. The plastic net pots allow a similar air flow as baskets, and are considerable cheaper. Clay pots do not allow as free air movement as the first two, but if adjustments in watering frequency are made no problems will be encountered.

   If potting medium is used, the medium must be well-drained, i.e. coarse fir bark, pieces of lava rock, pieces of broken pottery, chunks of tree fern, hardwood charcoal, etc. so that the roots can be wet but then dry quickly.Vandaceous plants will grow perfectly well if no medium is used, providing the watering schedule is increased.


   Vanda Alliance plants should be fed consistently, when in full growth. During the Spring through early Fall, fertilizing every four days, with several clear waterings in between, will make your Vanda Alliance plants happy. In the late Fall through Winter, a light feeding once a month will suffice.

   The fertilizer formula should match the potting medium, if used. We recommend non-urea based fertilizers Better Grow fertilizers or Urea Based fertilizers for tree fern, charcoal , coconut mixes, or various inorganic aggregates medias. Both also have micro nutrients, to provide strength for the new growth, as well as support for the flowers. Non urea fertilizers provide 100% immediately available nitrogen, which urea based fertilizers do not.

   We recommend slat baskets, without media, as the best container for Vandaceous orchids. See below in potting section.

   For bark media , use 30-10-10 , which is urea based. The extra urea nitrogen feeds the microbes, which are breaking down the bark. Thereby, not depriving the plant of nitrogen.

    Whichever formula is selected, we recommend half strength at each application. As with most Orchids, Vanda roots are sensitive to fertilizer salt build up. Vanda Alliance orchids are particularly fond of organic fertilizers, such as fish emulsion and manure teas. The organic fertilizers eliminate concern of salt build up in the medium.


    When you purchase a new plant, always place it where you can watch it for a couple of weeks until it is acclimated to your area. Initially, water the plant thoroughly and place it in a bright location with good humidity but out of drafts.

    Vandaceous plants are highly susceptible to crown rots. You should always avoid water in the apex of the plant, particularly during cool water or extended rainy periods. Water early, so the crown area will be dry by the cool of the night. During cool, rainy periods, an application of Dithane M45 or, Kocide 101 fungicide to the crown will prevent rot. If growing outside, during rainy periods an occasional application is a good preventative measure also. Several applications may be necessary if the cool, rainy period is extensive. The fungicide dries in the crown and forms a protective layer.

   A preventative spraying of Orthene 75%, wettable powder or in aerosol, on maturing flower buds will prevent thirp damage, as well as aphids and ants. If insects are found on the open flowers, the same chemical can be used to eradicate the infestation, without damaging the flowers. Other insecticides WILL damage the flowers and should not be used. Use Orthene spray as recommended on the label. If using the aerosol, spray from at least a foot away from the flowers. In addition, Orthene 75% does not leave any unsightly residue.

    Examine your plants on a regular basis. Insects, particularly scale insects, find Vanda Alliance plants attractive. Also slugs and snails will dine on these plants. Following the label recommendations on your favorite insecticide will usually solve any insect problem. Neem Oil is a safe alternative to insecticide, and has a pleasant citrus smell. It can be used on Vandas in side, or 70% isopropyl alcohol and dish soap make a good alternative insecticide for small outbreaks.

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