(on-si' dee-um)

Common name: Dancing Lady Orchid, Dancing Ladies

Family: Orchidaceae, Orchid

Height x width: 1-3' x 1-2'

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: variable--compact with fan-like foliage or from pseudobulbs with 1 large rigid or 2 smaller flexible leaves; sympodial growth

Flowers: generally yellow with dark markings and prominent inner petal lips resembling the skirt of a dancing lady, 1-3" across; in racemes or branched panicles 2-5' long arising from plant bases; lasts about 1 month

Light: bright

Temperature: cool nights to warm days

Watering: well-watered yearly, keep those with large pseudobulbs dry when not growing

Fertility: moderate

Humidity: humid

Soil: epiphytic

Pests and Problems: viruses, leaf spots, pseudobulb rots, botrytis gray mold, aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, whiteflies

Growth habit, uses: flowering indoors

Other interest: native to Central and South America; from the Greek onkos meaning mass, refering to the fleshy and warty appendage on the flower lip of many species

Other culture: those with large leathery leaves prefer full light and growing on orchid slabs or in baskets; easy to grow but harder to flower

Propagation: division in groups of at least 3 pseudobulbs


Of the over 450 species, the following are most common or recommended. Flowers yellow unless noted.
Species hgt. foliage, habit, length,  flowers with: 
cavendishianum 2' 1 elliptic, rigid, 6-18" red spots, fragrant, 5' panicles
crispum 2' 2 narrow, lance, 8" brown, spotted, 3' pendent panicles
flexuosum 2' 1-2 linear, leathery, 4-8" reddish markings, 2' panicles
longipes 6" 2 oblong, soft, 6" spotted and streaked red, short racemes
macranthum 3' 2 narrow, oblong, 10-20" whitish lips edged purple, 10' panicles
ornithorrhynchum 6" 2 linear, soft, 4-16" white/pink/purple, fragrant, arching 
pusillum 3" fan, linear-oblong, 3" marked rust-red, short axillary racemes
sphacelatum 2' 2 linear-leathery, 3' marked red-brown, dense 5' panicles
tigrinum 18" 1-2 linear-oblong, 1-2' sepals/petals reddish, dense 5' panicles

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS121, Indoor Plants.

Return to  Perry's Perennial Pages | PSS121 course