Oncidium Orchid

Care Requirements Right Here

the ONE email you'll open every week

Saturday mornings I send out an exclusive email sharing my best tips on how to grow healthy orchids.

Oncidium vs. Phalaenopsis care

What You’ll Learn

In this article, we’ll compare and contrast Oncidium with Phalaenopsis orchids.

Oncidiums are a large and diverse species of orchid. With over 600 varieties. Like the Phalaenopsis, Oncidiums are an excellent choice for beginner orchid growers. Oncidiums do well in the windowsill. Some say they do even better in a home environment than they do a greenhouse because humidity levels are lower.

Discover how easy it is to care for an Oncidium orchid

Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. Click here to learn more.



Unlike Phalaenopsis orchids, Oncidiums are sympodial. This means that they grow from a rhizome rather from a single stem. Another difference is that they have pseudobulbs where they store water. These pseudobulbs should be firm and smooth.  While in active growth, meaning you can see roots and leaves growing, keep the orchid well watered. When not in active growth allow the Oncidium to dry out a bit between watering. This is a bit different watering approach than the Phal. Because the Phal doesn’t have water storage it should never completely dry out.

oncidium - pseudobulbs

Pseudobulbs store water for the Oncidium.

How Much Light Do Oncidium Orchids Need?

Oncidiums appreciate bright, indirect light. If you are also growing Phalaenopsis alongside an Oncidium, keep in mind that the Oncidium is a medium-light orchid, while your Phal is a low-light orchid. Place your Oncidium a bit closer to the window than you would a Phal.

Humidity Requirements for Oncidiums

If you own both an Oncidium and a Phalaenopsis, one of the first things you probably observed was how different their leaves are. Phalaneopsis leaves are much thicker than that of Oncidium leaves. If the leaves on your Oncidium look pleated one cause may be lack of humidity, or it may just be a poor cultivar. Oncidiums like humidity levels between 40-80%.  For home growers, keep humidity levels between 40-50% as higher levels promote mold growth.

The Importance of Air Circulation

You may also notice dark spotting on the leaves. These black or brown spots are likely caused by bacteria. Do not be alarmed; while spotting isn’t good, it is fairly normal for Oncidium orchids. Increasing air circulation with a fan pointed away from your orchids will help alleviate the spotting.

How to Water Oncidiums

When watering, water copiously letting the water to flow through the potting mix. After watering, allow the potting mix to dry between watering. As stated above, Oncidiums are prone to spots on their leaves. In addition to good airflow, taking care to keep water off the leaves when watering may also help to prevent leaf spot.

Best Potting Media for Oncidiums

Use a potting mix that allows water to flow freely through the mix and provides air to the roots.

Many Oncidiums are tightly packed in potting material that does not promote long-term health. The potting mix that I use and trust is by Bonsai Jack. This mix is made primarily of Fir bark and supplemented with horticulture charcoal and perlite to allow optimum airflow to the orchid’s roots.

About Oncidium Roots

Both Oncidium and Phalaneopsis can grow aerial roots, though Oncidium roots are much thinner than Phalaenopsis roots. Always leave these aerial roots alone. Do not tidy them up by trimming them away. Just accept them and let them do their thing.

Looking for a Fragrant Orchid?

One notable difference between Phalaenopsis and Oncidiums is that several Oncidium varieties have a delightful fragrance. Sharry Baby is known for its chocolate-like aroma. Twinkle is another variety with a lovely vanilla-ish scent.

Sharry Baby - Oncidium - fragrant orchid

Sharry Baby has a distinct chocolate aroma.

Encouraging an Oncidium to Flower

Oncidiums can put forth an amazing profusion of flowers, but once the flower stalk is done blooming, it’s done. The Phalaenopsis may continue to bloom off the same stalk for months on end. After several months or even a year, you’ll see flower stalks begin to emerge on your Oncidium.

To promote reblooming, your Oncidium may appreciate cool temperatures and a slight decrease in water during winter months.

oncidium - dancing ladies

Oncidiums can put on a spectacular show of flowers.

Enjoying Oncidiums

Oncidium orchid varieties do well in a home environment. If you’re used to growing Phalaenopsis orchids, remember that Oncidiums prefer more light and have pseudobulbs, making them more drought-tolerant than the Phalaenopsis.

Buy Oncidium Orchids

Open-minded about trying a new orchid variety? If you are, begin with an Oncidium. These orchids do well on a windowsill, and many have a delightful fragrance.





Get an Oncidium Care Card

For easy care-instructions on how to care for oncidium orchids, CLICK HERE. You’ll get a PDF downloadable culture sheet with care requirements for oncidium orchids. 

sharry baby - chocolate orchid

I love the chocolate fragrance of my ‘sharry baby‘. In addition to its heavenly fragrance, this orchid is a reliable bloomer, sending out flower stalks multiple times a year.

Related Posts

Growth Patterns of Monopodial and Sympodial Orchids 

Knowing this will help you better water and pot your orchids.


How to RePot an Orchid: A Beginners Guide

For optimum health, repot your orchid every 1-2 years. Come learn how.




  1. Rosin says:

    I live in IRELAND, and love growing my orchids; they give great joy.They are the first thing I look at every morning,
    The room I have then in is full glass floor to roof with dark roof. It gets very warm during the day light hours and the temp. drops as the sun goes down.
    I would love any help or tips! Roisin

  2. Jasmin Chiodo says:

    I’ve had 4 Oncidiums for 2 years now. Sharry Baby just finished blooming, but this time it only gave me 1 spike. Last year it had two very long spikes and lots of flowers. The flower spikes were 18 inches long. Now its only 7 inches and has only 6 flowers. I’m still waiting for my Wildcat yellow to bloom still in spikes. Can’t wait.

    1. Anna says:

      I love Sharry Baby! My recommendation for getting more flowers is to increase the amount of light Sharry Baby receives. Oncidiums are considered a medium light orchid, so you don’t want the Oncidiums to get too much light. Bright, indirect lighting is best.
      Good luck on your Wildcat! Reblooming orchids is so rewarding. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  3. ROSITA says:

    I love orchids and I am so glad that I stumbled across your post on Instagram. Reading your tips has inspired me to go home and take better care of my orchids.

    Thank you I am going to try your tips and see what happens!
    Orchid Lover

    1. Anna says:

      Thank you Rosita!
      Let me know if you ever have any questions about caring for your orchids!

  4. Dennis louie says:

    My oncidium is doing a very funny thing this year. The stem did not grow out straight. Instead it is blooming while growing it resulting in a curved and bent stem. It has been doing this for over a month and keeps having new blooms but thr stem is curled into itself.. What did I do wrong and how do I avoid this next blooming season. Help!

    1. Anna says:

      I’ve experienced the same thing with a Brassia orchid. If the flower stalk is weak, your orchid may need more light. If the stalk is strong, it just grew that way naturally. If it is any comfort, when my Brassia grew other flower stalks, they were all normal. You could try staking the stalk and see if that helps.
      I hope this helps!

  5. Joan says:

    Once a spike is done how do you trim it or do you let it die back on its own? I still have two stems blooming but two others are done.

    1. Anna says:

      Great question!

      Click the link below to watch a video on where to cut the flower spike after the flowers are spent:


  6. Joan says:

    Once a spike is done how do you trim it or do you let it die back on its own? I still have two stems blooming but two others are done. Also some of the leaves are a bit dry and accordianed looking. Others are fine. Not enough water has been my guess but the bulbs look ok.

    1. Anna says:

      For Oncidium orchids, you can cut the flower stalk off at the base. One reason your leaves may have accordion-ated is lack of humidity. It is permanent, but add more humidity may prevent future leaves from curling.

  7. Eileen Pryor says:

    I just purchased my first oncidium, I’m so excited.
    I have phal’s in my apartment everywhere so I decided I’m going to try the oncidium.
    I only have a north facing window I’m hoping that’s enough light. We also get very cold in Montana so I’m concerned itll get too cold in windowsill.
    I think it’s time to get a grow light.
    Orchids are addicting and your site is very helpful thank you.

    1. Anna says:

      Congratulations on branching out and growing an oncidium. Yes, grow lights can do a lot to expand orchid growing! To learn more about providing light for your orchid, click hereGive Your Orchids the Right Light.
      Also, here is a link with information about growing ONCIDIUMS.
      I wish you all the best,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

the ONE email you'll open every week

Saturday mornings I send out an exclusive email sharing my best tips on how to grow healthy orchids.