The name of this orchid derives from the Sanskrit vanda which means "well-liked for perfume and color", a term created specifically to describe the characteristics of this flower. Vanda orchids are epiphytic plants, which means that they need other plants to sustain themselves (not so much to eat). Plant suitable for hot, sunny and humid climates, the Vanda orchid is native to Asia and develops mainly in India, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Much appreciated for its beauty and fragrance, the Vanda orchid of the Miss Joachim species was chosen by Singapore as its national flower. The Vanda orchid takes on predominantly purple tones and is characterized by long aerial roots, a conformation that makes it uncomfortable to place inside vases. This, together with the absolute need for heat and light, makes it difficult to cultivate in enclosed spaces, but we must not be discouraged because they can grow thanks to the use of suspended baskets and putting them in greenhouses can allow their growth.
Species: about eighty different species can be grouped into three groups based on the shape of the leaves.
1. Ribbon leaves: this species of Vanda has flat ribbon-shaped leaves, with V-shaped sections. They are the most suitable to be grown at home or in greenhouses but in the morning they need sunlight. The Vanda with flat, ribbon-like leaves belong to this species: with a V-shaped section where we can see V. sanderiana, V. luzonica, V. coerulea, V. merrillii, V. dearei and V. tricolor.
2. Cylinder leaves: species with rounded cylindrical leaves, are part of V. hookeriana and V. teres, plants that need to grow outdoors in well sunny places, to a greater extent than their "cousins" belonging to the species with ribbon-like leaves.
3. Intermediate leaves: species characterized by semi-cylindrical leaves and properties common to both previous species.
Exposure and irrigation
The Vanda orchid prefers warm climates: its ideal temperature varies from 15 ° C at night to 35 ° C during the day and tolerates lower temperatures only for short periods, and in any case never lower than 10 ° C. In addition to the heat, the Vanda orchid needs a lot of direct sunlight (the ribbon forms tolerate even the half shade) but also a good percentage of humidity (about 80%), which must be kept constant with watering every two days in the cooler and daily periods in the warmer ones, especially if the plants are grown in hanging baskets. Irrigation should be done in the early hours of the morning so that the roots and leaves dry out by evening: to this end, make sure that the plants have a good air circulation, especially in the summer months. In summer it is also advisable to vaporize the Vanda orchid with limestone-poor water at room temperature to increase the humidity of the environment and limit the effects of direct exposure to the sun, favoring a more rapid growth.
Fertilization and repotting
Soil fertilization is an essential factor for the Vanda orchid and should be carried out with fertilizers containing 20% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus and 20% potassium with weekly frequency starting from spring until the end of summer, and biweekly in the rest of the year. This process, although essential, must be balanced by keeping the soil constantly but slightly humid, thus preventing mineral salts from concentrating around the roots and damaging them. The most suitable substrate for the Vanda orchid is composed of arboreal fern, charcoal and large bark. Being delicate plants, the repotting should be done only in case of necessity (container too small or deteriorated) and preferably in the months of May-June. The Vanda orchid does not tolerate classic vases well; its optimal location is inside baskets of hard wood (cedar, teak) hung in mid-air, to favor the aeration of the roots, which for this purpose can be left completely free. If the container is too small, it is not necessary to replace it, but simply place it in a larger basket. If, on the other hand, the container has deteriorated and it is necessary to replace it, it is necessary to place the plant still potted in a basin of warm water with a little antifungal, in order to untangle the roots more easily and with less stress for the plant.
Vanda Orchids: Flowering and multiplication
If kept at optimal conditions, the Vanda orchid can produce up to 4 annual flowerings of medium-long duration (some weeks), mainly concentrated in spring and summer, although this plant can grow and flower during the whole span of the year. The flowers are very fragrant (with the exception of some species) and their spike-shaped structure is characterized by an axis from which 10 to 12 flowers with well-opened sepals that are equal to each other, having the same shape as the petals, branch off. As for the trilobate, its shape varies according to the species, while almost all the Vanda orchids have a spur-shaped labellum. Its fleshy and large roots start from the stem and are mostly free and not very branched, so as to allow the plant to absorb as much moisture from the atmosphere. The multiplication of the Vanda orchid takes place by vegetative means: the stems emit lateral shoots which will become as many independent stems (called keiki), which when growing produce aerial roots. When their quantity begins to become conspicuous it is possible to cut the new plants to about 2/3 of their length and pot them one by one: the part of the roots will emit new shoots of leaves, while the part of the stem will begin to produce new roots. Easy to multiply, the Vanda species is also suitable for crossbreeding with other orchids, in some cases with species not belonging to its genus.