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EQUITANT ONCIDIUM (syn. TOLUMNIA)

 

This genus is originally from the Caribbean Islands. It is a compact grower, and the leaves seldom exceed 6 inches. Because of its miniature stature, a four-inch pot is large enough to hold a specimen plant. This feature makes it very desirable for those who have limited space in a greenhouse or who grow orchids on windowsills.The flowers of equitants come in a rainbow of colors and a variety of patterns thanks to generations of hybridization. The flower season is usually spring or fall, but these little charmers can bloom year round. Equitants have an undeserved reputation of being difficult to grow. In fact, they will grow with vigor and repay you with sprays of flowers if the following culture requirements are met:

 

Light: Equitants prefer strong light : about 2000 to 3000 foot-candles and can be grown with cattleyas. Leaves with a purple or bronze tint on them indicate that the plants have received sufficient light. They can tolerate 4000 foot-candles, but this much light is not recommended. The most common reason that equitants fail to spike and flower is insufficient light. However, plants grown on a windowsill should be shaded from direct sunlight with a sheer curtain.

 

Water: The roots of these plants are very sensitive to salts, such as are found in tap water; therefore, de- ionized, reverse osmosis water, or even rain water is preferable to tap water.

Watering practices are very important. Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to water. Plants should be allowed to dry completely before being rewatered.

 

Air: Air circulation helps evaporate water and discourages fungus and bacteria; however, direct drafts created by heaters or coolers are undesirable.

 

Fertilizer: A weak solution of one-quarter to one-half of the amount recommended on the package label, is adequate. A balanced fertilizer of 20-20-20 or a higher nitrogen fertilizer such as 30-10-10 may be used weekly. Every fourth feeding, a high phosphorus fertilizer such as 15-30-15 is beneficial to stimulate root growth and encourage blooming. Only plants in active growth should be fed on this schedule.

 

Temperature: The optimum temperature range is 55-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Plants can survive lower temperatures if they are kept dry, and higher temperatures if plants are misted frequently.

 

Humidity: 50% to 70% is ideal .To increase humidity, plants should be placed on pebble trays and misted several times a day. This is especially important if the plants are mounted.

 

Potting: Some growers prefer to mount equitants; others prefer clay pots and various potting media ( e.g spagnum moss, fern fiber, rocks, or fir bark). The size of the pot should be only slightly larger than the size of the root system. These small plants should not be divided into less than three growths.

 

Tips: 1) Do not cut off a flowered spike because it may bloom again; 2) Equitants tend to flower on young plants; and 3) Be patient. Give the plants a chance to adjust of your growing conditions.

 

Orchid Society of Arizona

Yu-Fu (Phillip) Liu 4/22/96


 
 
 

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