Vanda (Van-dah) orchids are one of the easiest types of orchids to grow in South Florida. We are lucky to have plenty of sunshine, lots of humidity, adequate heat, (except for a few days in the winter) and all of these together mean success with growing them.
Vandas (Vandaceous family) require an abundance of filtered light like you would have in a screened in lanai or pool cage. They need at least 6-8 hours a day of this sun light. If you are considering putting them under a tree, make sure that the canopy is not too thick, such as under a ficus Benjamin, because that will not allow enough sunshine for Vandas. However, if there is a good canopy and you can hang the plant near the perimeter, it should get adequate sunshine. Usually when people complain that their Vandas won’t bloom, they are not getting enough sunshine. On the other hand, if the leaves are getting black or brown splotches it usually means they are getting burned by the sun.
Daily watering of Vandas is also required. The roots need to turn bright green after watering. If they are a splotchy green, they are not getting enough water. Spraying with a hose is the best way. A trigger spray bottle is usually not adequate water for Vandas to be happy. One sign that the Vandas are happy is they have some very shiny tips on some of their roots.
When watering your Vandas, water first thing in the morning so that the roots have time to dry out. If it rains in the afternoon that’s just an additional benefit to them. They will be ok even if they can’t dry out before dark.
Heat is important to successfully grow and bloom Vandas. The heat of the day is no problem, however, the chills of winter can be damaging. If the temperature is predicted to go below 50 F. bring them into shelter. If left out in 40 degree weather they will “shut down” and quit growing or flowering. That could last until spring. Below 40 degrees, you will be taking a chance on permanent damage to the plant. Better safe than sorry!
Vandas are fast growers and require a balanced fertilizer at least weekly. In the late spring and summer, while they are growing rapidly, they can benefit from bi-weekly feeding. The usual saying “Orchids should be fed weakly, weekly” is appropriate. A feeding once a month with a “Bloom Booster” is also recommended. At Sundance we also use a drop per gallon of Super Thrive when we feed. This product acts as a supplement of micro nutrients which all orchids need.
We recommend spraying with Dithane fungicide twice a month. This particular fungicide seems to do the best job of caring for Vandas. In addition, a broad based insecticide should be sprayed on the forming buds to destroy ever present sucking insects called thrips. If left unchecked, they will suck the juices from the buds and you will not have blooms. They are a tiny insect smaller than pepper and can do great damage. They can also damage flowers on other orchids.
Certain types of Vandaecous orchids are particularly easy to grow, those being Ascocendas. They generally are a smaller plant than Vandas and often bloom 2 or 3 times a year, sometimes more. Ascocendas also require less light than full sized Vandas therefore may be more suited for enclosed lanais.
As I said before, vandaecous orchids are fun and easy to grow, and will give you many years of pleasure if you follow these simple guidelines outlined here. Good luck and good growing!