Vanda orchids produce flowers up to 4 inches in diameter, have thick, fleshy aerial roots and large leaves that grow from the crown of the plant. Vanda orchids are native to the Eastern hemisphere and are found in India, the Himalaya, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Southern China and Northern Australia. These orchids grow in trees with their roots hanging in the air. Vanda orchids are grown commercially for their wide range of flowers, and are used in Hawaii to make traditional fresh flower leis.
Three aspects of a Vanda orchid plant to consider before purchase are the size and age of the plant, its condition and its ancestry. The largest plants are usually the best choice, indicating strength and vigor and early blooming tendency. In looking at condition, sturdy plants are best, with unblemished leaves, especially lower leaves, and plump roots with new tips. Plants in fresh potting medium and clean pots will be healthiest, avoiding rot or fungus conditions. The orchid’s name indicates if it is a hybrid, (i.e. Vanda Pukele x Ascocentrium curvifolium) and it’s names/crosses will be in parentheses. Natural hybrids are similarly named and labeled, but without parentheses: Vanda x charlesworthii.
Vanda orchids need a balanced environment with warm days (80 degrees F), slightly cooler night temperatures, high humidity, abundant moisture without soggy conditions and bright filtered light. Don’t leave orchids in full sun because the leaves will burn and the plant will develop problems from stress. Good aeration around plants and gradual changes in the environment keep plants healthy and stress-free. Signs of stress and poor health in Vanda orchids include thin or rotting roots, spots and markings on leaves and leaf and bloom-drop.
Vanda orchids need frequent feeding with low nitrogen, high phosphorous and potassium fertilizers, especially during the summer months. However, over-fertilizing is not good for orchids. A mild liquid fertilizer and watering well to avoid burning roots and leaves is recommended. Good potting soil with organic material provides additional nutritional support.
Vanda orchids need daily watering to keep their thick roots plump with moisture to support the plant and flowers. High humidity--about 80 percent--is also required for healthy Vanda orchids. In a warm greenhouse environment, humidity must be monitored. In a home environment as a houseplant, daily misting with a spray bottle is required to keep sufficient humidity conditions. Clean, chemical-free water is a necessity for epiphytic plants like orchids that are sensitive to soil and air moisture conditions.