UNLIKE most other epiphytic orchids, vandas have a single stem rising from a tuft of roots and do not have pseudobulbs. Thick, fleshy aerial roots arc often produced on the stem, and these may hang down outside the container in which indoor vandas are planted. Pale green leaves, which are generally strap-shaped, grow all along the stem, and flower stalks arise near its tip. Each stalk bears several fragrant flowers, which List for several weeks. Sepals and petals are usually of roughly the same shape and size, and the hp is often three-lobed, These plants have been widely hybridized, often with orchids of different genera.
V. cristata has a stem up to 2 feet tall carrying nearly opposite, arching, strap-shaped, deeply channeled leaves 5-7 inches long and 1 ½ inch wide, with slightly toothed, blunt tips. Flower stalks 4-6 inches long appearing from leaf axils in spring and summer bear up to seven flowers about 2 inches across. The sepals and petals are yellowish green to creamy yellow. The short, oblong green-and-yellow lip has deep purple-red lines near the base.
V. sanderana has stems up to 2 feet tall carrying close-packed opposite pairs of strap-shaped, slightly arching leaves 12-15 inches long and 1 inch wide. Flower stalks 10-12 inches long bear up to 10 blooms each. The flower stems rise from leaf axils, mostly in late summer and fall. Each, flat, disklike flower is up to 5 inches across. The upper sepal and petals are rosy pink suffused with white, and the lower sepals are reddish yellow with darker markings. The very small, rounded, forward-jutting Up is reddish yellow. V. teres has stems up to 7 feet high bearing nearly cylindrical, alternate leaves 4-6 inches long and j inch thick. Flower stalks arise on the stem at points opposite the leaves, and each 7- to 10-inch-long stalk carries up to five flowers from late spring to early fall. Each bloom is 3-4 inches across. The broadly diamond-shaped, wavy-edged sepals and petals are pale pinkish purple suffused with white. The lip color is reddish yellow spotted and lined with red. There are also a large number of different-colored varieties.
Light Give vandas bright filtered light at all times. Supplement daylight with artificial illumination in winter, if possible
Temperature Normal room temperatures are ideal throughout the year. A night temperature about is °F lower than the daytime level is desirable, however. For adequate humidity stand pots on trays of moist pebbles, and mist-spray plants daily.
Watering Water plentifully at all times, never allowing the potting mixture to dry out. Do not let pots stand in water, however.
Feeding Apply standard liquid fertilizer at half strength to these orchids with every other watering.
Potting and repotting Use any of the recommended mixtures for epiphytic orchids. If the mixture includes fibrous material, use only big chunks of fiber. This is necessary for good drainage, as are plenty of clay-pot fragments and pieces of charcoal in the mixture. All these vandas are best grown in pots, with a length of tree-fern stem or straight tree branch set into the mixture to provide a support for the aerial roots. Place the plant in the middle of the container, and make sure that the base of the stem is not buried in the mixture. Move vandas into slightly larger pots every spring. When maximum pot size has been reached, cut up these plants for propagation.
Propagation The purpose of propagating vandas is mainly to reduce the size of an overlarge specimen. To do this, cut the stem at any desirable point above which there are plenty of aerial roots. Soak the cutting for two hours to make the aerial roots pliable before planting in a small pot of standard potting mixture. Place the cut base of the stem about 2 inches deep in the mixture, and try to bury some of the aerial roots as well. If any such root breaks, cut it cleanly above the break, and insert the cut end in the mixture. Support the cutting by staking it. During the first six weeks water only sparingly (permitting the mixture to dry out almost completely between waterings), and do not feed. Thereafter, treat the young plant as a mature vanda. The part of the old plant left in the original pot will usually branch and continue to grow at a reduced height.
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