Genus Odontoglossum is directly related to a fairly large orchid family (Orchidaceae). This family is also called orchidaceae, and it includes 5 more subfamilies. Representatives of this family have been found in all regions of the planet Earth with the exception of Antarctica. This genus includes 65 species of various plants. In nature, such plants are found in the mountainous regions of South and Central America with a tropical and subtropical climate. As a rule, they are found at an absolute height of 1700 to 3000 meters. But there are species that prefer to grow even in higher places, where it is cool and damp.
The name of such a plant comes from the Greek words “odons” or “odontos” – “tooth” and “glossa” – “tongue”. Such an unusual name is associated with the appearance of the flowers of this orchid. So, at the base of the lip (lower petal), calloused outgrowths are clearly visible, very similar to teeth. This genus was first described by the German botanist Karl Kunt, and this happened at the beginning of the 19th century.
This genus is represented by lithophytes (plants that grow on rocks or rocks), as well as epiphytes (grow on trunks or branches of other shrubs or trees). Odontoglossum can be both large and medium in size. In rare cases, this flower grows like a terrestrial plant. Rather short roots, there is a flattened pseudobulb shape, with rather delicate root processes attached. On average, the height of the odontoglossum is 20 centimeters, but there are varieties that stretch up to 90 centimeters.
The color of thin leathery leaves is the bright emerald, and their shape is very elongated. With good care, the life span of foliage is several years. The growth pattern of the plant is sympodial. Spectacular bush consists of a whole system of shoots. The horizontally arranged parts of the stems form a rhizome. And on the parts located vertically, pseudobulbs (thickenings) are formed. Peduncles grow from the base of the pseudobulb, and on them there are several pieces of lovely flowers at once. This flower bud is located at the beginning of the growth of the previous leaf or stem (this may be the placement of an underdeveloped leaf sinus).
Odontoglossum is almost impossible to meet in flower shops. However, there is a huge number of hybrids created by crossing odontoglossum with other species of the orchid family. At the same time, this genus of orchids is crossed very easily. Hybrids are usually very beautiful and have a long flowering period from mid-autumn to late spring. It should be remembered that different varieties can bloom at any time of the year. When their flowering ends, then the dormant period begins (it is observed every 8 months). Odontoglossum is most suitable for experienced orchid growers, as beginners may have a number of problems with such a plant.
Caring for an odontoglossum orchid at home
This orchid is quite photophilous and needs good lighting. However, it should be protected from direct sunlight. To place such a flower, windows of a southwestern or southeastern orientation are perfect. When placed on a southern window, the flower will need shading from the scorching midday rays of the sun. You can shade the plant using light curtains or gauze curtains. If desired, paper or tracing paper can be glued to the glass surface, which can significantly scatter sunlight.
This kind of orchid is adapted to a cool temperature regime, in connection with this it is recommended to grow them in unheated greenhouses or cold rooms. But hybrids created by crossing with heat-loving species are quite adapted to ordinary room temperature. In summer, such plants are recommended to be kept at a temperature of 24 to 26 degrees, but it is best if it is 19 degrees during the day and 16 degrees at night. The recommended temperature in winter is from 13 to 17 degrees.
Odontoglossum requires high humidity for normal growth and development. So, during the day it should stay at around 60 percent, and at night it should rise to 90 percent. If the humidity is below normal, then this will entail a deterioration in the appearance of the flower, as well as its development. It is worth remembering that the warmer the room, the higher the percentage of humidity should be and the more often airing is carried out. In the summer, during the hot months, it is recommended to place the pot with the plant in a wide and high tray, into which expanded clay (pebbles) should first be poured and not a very large amount of water should be poured. When the water evaporates, the air humidity will naturally increase. However, care should be taken that the liquid does not come into contact with the pot, because this can cause rot to form on the root system.
How to water
The frequency of watering is directly related to the ambient temperature of the odontoglossum. So, the cooler the room, the less often you need to water and vice versa. When choosing a pot, it should be noted that excess liquid should leave it freely and quickly enough. In this regard, it is recommended to use double pots, so, in the part located on top, the flower itself is placed, and the one on the bottom is intended for flowing excess water. If liquid stagnates in the substrate, this will lead to the appearance of rot on the root system, as well as on the shoot.
Watering should be frequent and plentiful, and it should be carried out without waiting for the complete drying of the substrate. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the pseudobulbs do not wrinkle between waterings. After the end of flowering, the frequency of watering should be reduced. And during the dormant period, watering is carried out with a frequency of 1 time in 7 days.
In the presence of young sprouts, it is necessary to moisten the plant quite carefully, because they are quite sensitive to such procedures. Experts advise that from time to time to arrange a warm (about 35 degrees) shower for this orchid, which has a positive effect on the health and overall development of such a flower. The more often you give him a shower, the more young leaves will appear, and this will also lead to an increase in the frequency of flowering. It should be remembered that too hard water should not be used for the shower. Meltwater or rainwater is excellent for such procedures. In its absence, you can combine distilled and tap water in equal proportions. You can also soften tap water by boiling, filtering, and it can also be well defended. It should be remembered
After the end of the dormant period, you need to start applying specialized fertilizers for orchids to the substrate. You can also use liquid fertilizer with a complex of minerals. It should be noted that the nutrient mixture used for top dressing should have a very weak concentration. During the period of intensive growth, you need to feed the plant 1 time per week, and during flowering – 1 time in 3 weeks.
After the young sprouts grow to half their normal size, you need to start feeding the orchid with a fertilizer with a high content of phosphorus compounds. In addition to the usual top dressing, foliar dressings should also be carried out. It is necessary to carry out top dressing on the sheet with the same type of fertilizer. Experts recommend using these fertilizer methods alternately.
Features of transplantation and soil mixture
In order for the plant to grow normally and bloom, transplantation should be carried out once a year, and not only the substrate, but also the pot should be changed. It is recommended to transplant it before flowering or after it (in spring or autumn). Often, the odontoglossum itself signals that it is time to transplant, so it forms a young shoot, which reaches a length of 5 to 8 centimeters. Also, a transplant is necessary with a half-decomposed substrate. When changing the capacity, experts recommend carefully separating the old pseudobulbs.
It is worth remembering that in case of intense heat, transplanting is prohibited.
Suitable soil should be light, well breathable and absorb water. So, when transplanting, you can use ready-made soil mixtures sold in a flower shop, intended for orchids or for orchids and bromeliads. There are 2 options for the substrate, which you can cook with your own hands:
- peat soil, chopped sphagnum and crushed charcoal, while the components are taken in equal proportions;
- mix in equal proportions pine bark, coconut chips (fiber), chopped fern roots and crushed charcoal.
Be sure to make a good drainage layer at the bottom of the pot. After transplanting, a not very thick layer of moss should be laid out on the surface of the substrate, which will help retain moisture in the soil. The first watering of the transplanted plant should be done 7 days after this procedure.
It is possible to propagate the odontoglossum during its transplantation, for this it is necessary to divide the overgrown bush into parts. During the division of the rhizome, it must be remembered that each division must have at least 2-3 mature pseudobulbs and 1 more (or more) growth point. The rhizome is carefully divided with a very sharp knife.
Damaged areas on the delenka must be treated, and crushed activated carbon is excellent for this. Then the delenki should be carefully laid on pre-chopped moss and wait until the roots begin to grow again. Then the delenki that have begun to grow again should be planted in separate flower pots. To do this, the root system of the plant is placed in a pot with a pre-made drainage layer. And only after that, the prepared substrate is carefully poured.
Pests and possible problems
Often, thrips, aphids, spider mites, and scale insects settle on this kind of orchid. Experts recommend fighting such harmful insects with the help of special insecticides. If liquid stagnates in the substrate, this can provoke the appearance of various bacterial as well as fungal rot. In this case, experts advise carefully removing the root system from the substrate and treating it with fungicides. You also need to disinfect the pot itself and plant the plant in a new substrate.
As a rule, all the problems that arose during the cultivation of this plant are associated with violations of the rules of care. So, this may be due to the wrong level of lighting, incorrect temperature conditions, or watering violations. So, the most common problems are:
- The flower stops growing, and its foliage becomes yellow and wrinkled – this is due to too dry air in the room.
- Whitish spots appear on the surface of the foliage – due to stagnant air, it is necessary to increase the amount of ventilation.
- The foliage turned yellow – this may be due to the direct rays of the sun on them.
Types of Odontoglossum
The species listed below are the most popular indoor growers because they are relatively low maintenance.
Odontoglossum bictoniense (Odontoglossum bictoniense)
This species stands out from the rest with its flattened pseudobulbs, which are also very tightly twisted. In height, this plant reaches 18 centimeters. From below, the bush is covered by 4–6 two-row grassroots leaves. On top of the pseudobulbs are 2 or 3 long leaves of a linear shape. The erect loose inflorescence has a brush-like shape, and on it there is a large number of not very large (diameter from 4 to 5 centimeters) flowers. In length, such an inflorescence can reach from 30 to 80 centimeters. Greenish-yellow flowers consist of narrow sepals and petals, while on their surface there is a pattern in the form of various brownish-chestnut spots. The heart-shaped or kidney-shaped lip has a short and wide nail. The lip has a white or lilac color, finely wavy edge and a pair of yellow fluffy keels at the base. Flowering lasts from mid-autumn to early winter. The opening of flowers occurs gradually, while the flowering of the first inflorescence can last for 8-10 weeks.
Pretty Odontoglossum (Odontoglossum pulchellum)
This species has been separated into a separate genus called Odontoglossum Schltr. The flattened shape of the pseudobulbs are located very close to each other. At the top of each of them is a pair of long keeled linear leaves, which create dense and fairly large formations. Thin curved flower stalks grow from the lower leaf axils. They bear loose inflorescences in the form of a brush, which consist of 4-6 snow-white fragrant flowers. A lip similar in shape to a guitar is directed upwards and at its base there is a corn-shaped comb, which has a rich yellow color, and red specks are also placed on its surface. Under the lip there is a pair of lateral sepals that are practically fused, which are almost invisible because of it. Blooms in January-February.
The most beautiful species of this genus. On the peduncle there are many densely seated flowers, the patterns of which are always different. Hanging inflorescences, having the shape of a brush, consist of no more than 15 flowers with a fringed edge. The petals are painted lilac or white, and they have a pattern of brownish or cherry hue. There are many brownish-yellow spots on the indented lip.
Odontoglossum lemon (Odontoglossum citrosmum)
Inflorescences consist of lilac or light pink flowers, of which there are from 9 to 20 pieces. The lip is pale pink.
There are from 3 to 8 large flowers. The lip has the shape of a heart.
Odontoglossum large (Odontoglossum grande)
Or “tiger orchid” is one of the most beautiful plants of the orchid family. For the most part, it is found in the mountainous forest areas of central America, or rather, on the high plateaus of Guatemala and Costa Rica. As a rule, it prefers to grow at an absolute height of 2000–2500 meters. Prefers sufficiently lit places that are well ventilated, for example: glades, forest edges, banks of streams and rivers. In these places, both in the air and in the soil throughout the year there is a high moisture content. This is facilitated by morning dew, which forms fogs at night, as well as the evaporation of liquid from reservoirs. Naturalist and plant collector Ure Skinner first described this species, finding it in a mountain gorge near the capital of Guatemala in the early 19th century.
This flower is rhizomatous, but the rhizome is securely hidden under flattened pseudobulbs. As a rule, there are 2 or 3 such pseudobulbs. They are located relative to each other very close and are located above the rhizome. They have leaflets covering them from below. From the leaf sinus grows 1 or 2 peduncles. Drooping inflorescences have a racemose shape and consist of large flowers (diameter from 12 to 15 centimeters), which number from 3 to 7 pieces (less often 9). The color of the flowers is rich yellow and rather thick stripes of a pale brown color are transversely located on their surface. Petals with wavy edges in the lower part have a pale brown tint and yellow edging, the upper part is rich yellow. A small rounded lip has a yellowish-white or whitish color, and on its surface there are many reddish spots and strokes. Flowering can occur from the beginning of autumn to the middle of winter and it lasts 4 weeks. It feels fine when grown indoors, but such an orchid definitely needs a cool temperature regime.