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Growing shade-loving vandas

Published:Thursday | May 17, 2012 | 12:00 AM

The Vanda Alliance is made up mostly of warm and full-sun-growing orchids with colourful flowers that bloom often. Originating in tropical Asia, they grow in warm tropical climates just like Jamaica.

If there is direct sun for too long, the leaves will burn and develop a round, dark brown mark in the exposed section - so watch for this. However, they need light to flower. Leaves should be a medium green, not dark green. The dark green and lush leaves mean too much shade; and plants will grow and look healthy but will not flower.

Vandas and ascocendas will develop an extensive hanging root system, and they prefer to grow hanging in slatted-wood or plastic baskets. The baskets do not need any medium - they are just there for support.

WATER and FERTILISER should both be applied copiously - especially when the plants and roots are growing quickly or the days are hot and dry. In the hot summer months, they will appreciate twice daily watering. Water early in the morning and not late in the evening.

Contributed by Michael duQuesnay, vice-president of the Jamaica Orchid Society. The Jamaica Orchid Society meets on the first Saturday of each month at 4 p.m. at the JTURDC building, 1A Hope Boulevard, Kingston 6.