The Vanda is an orchid which is widespread in nature, from India and Sri Lanka to Northern Australia. The Vanda grows and blooms on trees. The roots hang loose in the air or are wrapped around the tree.
The Vanda was discovered in 1613 by Alvin Semedo, who called it ‘tiao hua’ or ‘air plant’. The aerial roots act as sponges and can rapidly absorb a great deal of moisture. These roots also ensure that the plant remains firmly anchored to the tree on which it is growing. The plant therefore does not need any earth. Potting soil causes the roots to rot.
Vandas are rare orchids and can only be bought at the better florists and garden centres. They are available all year round in small-flowered and large-flowered varieties. The flowers range from tiny orange to gigantic blue/pink. The Vanda is the orchid with the most appealing range of colours. The plant occurs in every colour of the rainbow.
Care after purchase
Yhe Vanda grows best in a light spot in a glass vase. The plant needs as much light as possible, but no direct sunlight in the summer. The optimum temperature is 17 to 28 oC. Flowering last six to eight weeks on average.
As an ‘air plant’ the Vanda does not constantly need water. Half-fill the vase with tepid water twice a week and empty it again after about half an hour. Between March and September it is a good idea to add orchid food to the water once a fortnight.
Care after flowering
After flowering cut off the old branch completely. If there is enough light, the Vanda can flower again within six months of the last flowering. The new bud will appear between the leaves above the old branch.
In the summer the Vanda can be placed in the garden in the shade, where it will need virtually no care. However, the outdoor temperature does have to stay above 8 °C. The plant can then be hung in a tree without a vase, for example. The plant does need to be sprayed regularly during a prolonged dry and sunny period.
The natural habitat of the Vanda extends from India and Sri Lanka to Northern Australia. The Vanda is the national flower of Singapore. The flower is also extensively used in floral leis on Hawaii.