If you are a fan of fragrant flowers, then Oncidium Sharry baby is the one for you.
It is also called the Chocolate orchid because of its fragrance that resembles chocolate and sometimes a mix of chocolate and vanilla.
What Is an Oncidium Sharry Baby?
Oncidium Sharry baby is a hybrid, epiphytic, sympodial orchid, and a cross between Oncidium Jamie Sutton and Oncidium Honolulu. The parents are native to South and Central America.
It has many varieties like the most popular ‘Oncidium Sharry Baby Sweet Fragrance’ known for the sweetest fragrance, and the ‘Oncidium Sharry Baby Tricolor’ loved for its white lips and yellow tips. The ‘Oncidium Sharry Baby Ruby Doll’ variety has red-colored lips.
All the varieties have chocolate aromas of different intensities.
Size and Growth
Oncidium Sharry baby is a vigorous grower, and you will notice that it takes over the whole pot in no time. It gets huge and produces quite large pseudobulbs, which store water and provide a reserve supply when the soil mix dries out. The pseudobulbs can be 3 to 4 inches long and about 2 inches wide.
The Chocolate orchid has sympodial growth, which means that, unlike the monopodial orchids which have only one stem, it has many axillary buds or stems that are called the renewal shoots. Sympodial orchids have multiple root systems.
Oncidium Sharry baby has narrow leaves that can be 6 to 10 inches long and 0.75 to 1.5 inches wide. Some leaves have small black spots all over. The orchid has monocot leaves that develop yellow stripes and long flower spikes.
Oncidium Sharry baby has incredibly fragrant flowers that resemble chocolates. Some people feel that the fragrance is similar to vanilla.
There are many different kinds of Oncidium Sharry Babies. But if you are looking for the strongest chocolate fragrance, go for Oncidium Sharry Baby Sweet Fragrance. It can produce 150 to 250 flowers at a time if given the right growing conditions.
The color of flowers varies from dark purple to yellowish-brown. Their diameter lies in the range of 1 to 1.5 inches. The lip color varies from pure white to dark pink. They last for three to four weeks. The sepals are long and have a dark red color.
If you want your orchid to rebloom, then make sure that the pseudobulbs receive lots of bright and direct sunlight. The key to getting the Chocolate orchid to rebloom is providing the right amount of bright light.
Another point to keep in mind to help produce flower spikes in Sharry Baby is providing the nighttime drop in temperature. Once the old flower spikes have dried, cut them off. It will enable new growth in the orchid.
Oncidium Sharry baby has an extensive root system. The roots tend to take over the entire pot when given the right growing conditions. It also has air roots that perform the function of transferring water and nutrients to the plant.
These aerial roots also help the epiphytic orchid to anchor and attach the plant to the tree trunks.
Oncidium Sharry Baby Care: Growth Requirements
Oncidium Sharry baby is not a fussy orchid. It is easy to care for if you keep in mind the right growing conditions required. The requirements like light, water, temperature, humidity, and fertilizer will depend on your area and conditions inside your home.
Read on to find out the suitable conditions you will have to arrange for your Chocolate orchid.
Location and Light Requirements
Oncidium Sharry baby loves bright light. It enjoys the bright morning sun and indirect, filtered light through the rest of the day. Do not place your orchid in the direct afternoon sun, as it can burn the leaves. A combination of morning direct light and afternoon filtered light works fine.
During the hot afternoon sun, keep your orchid behind curtains to avoid leaf burn. It also grows well under artificial lights, including LED, grow lights, etc.
Oncidium Sharry baby is a moisture-loving orchid and requires regular watering. It does not like to dry out too much in between waterings. In summer, it will dry out within a day.
So daily watering or watering twice a day may be required during the summer months if you live in a drier area. The higher the temperature, the higher will be the watering frequency and vice versa.
High water need does not mean that you create soggy conditions in the soil mix. There should be no standing water as it causes root rot, fungal diseases, and other problems.
To check for the need to water, the right way is to check the topmost layer by inserting your finger. If the top 1-inch soil feels dry, water your orchid. Otherwise, wait and then check again.
The number of days will depend on the temperature, humidity, soil, and the type of pot.
Oncidium Sharry baby is a warm to intermediate growing oncidium. It enjoys moderate temperatures. However, it can also tolerate warmer and colder temperatures. It can easily withstand temperatures between 64 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
It needs an average daytime temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and an average nighttime temperature of 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not expose your orchid below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, as it will cause the plant’s stunted growth.
Provide a nighttime drop in temperature to help in stimulating flowering in your Oncidium. The difference between the daytime and nighttime temperature is helpful in proper cultivation.
There are ready-to-use soil mixes available for orchids. But if you cannot get your hands on that, use a mixture of fine bark and perlite or charcoal. You can also use leca as a substrate as it has plenty of air pockets that help in maintaining air movement around the roots.
Make a soil mix according to the orchid’s water requirements in your area. Oncidium Sharry baby loves moisture. So prepare a soil mix that can hold moisture for long with air movement around the roots.
Use a mix of bark chips and sphagnum moss for higher moisture levels. Bark helps in maintaining ventilation and sphagnum moss helps in retaining moisture.
Apart from pots, Oncidium Sharry baby grows well when mounted on slabs. To mount your orchid, use small layers of sphagnum moss to cover the roots and mount it on the bark. However, this method would need more frequent watering.
As compared to other orchids, Oncidium Sharry baby does not have very high humidity requirements. Try to provide a humidity level of 40 to 70 percent. Humidity would not be a huge problem as long as you keep your orchid watered.
Humidity levels lower than 40 percent slows down the orchid’s growth by burning the leaf tips and jammed shoot growth. To increase the humidity levels, keep many plants together, use methods like the pebble tray, humidifier around the orchids.
Remember to maintain the airflow around the orchids and their root systems. As the humidity goes up, it becomes important to maintain ventilation. Otherwise, the orchid would face problems like fungal diseases, pests, and insects.
Fertilize Oncidium Sharry baby every week using a basic orchid fertilizer. You can also use seaweed extract. Avoid overfertilizing your orchid as fertilizer will build up in the pot and eventually lead to root burn over time. So keep monitoring the orchid and check for any fertilizer build-up in the root system.
Apart from liquid orchid fertilizers, slow-release fertilizers also work well with oncidium orchids. Slow-release fertilizers are a great choice if you tend to be away for long. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer at the beginning of new growth and, as the pseudobulbs develop, shift to a fertilizer rich in phosphorus.
Oncidium Sharry baby does not have a rest period during winter. However, reduce the frequency of fertilization during winter. To stimulate blooming, provide colder conditions than usual.
Type of Pot
Apart from the plastic pots, many people also use terracotta pots to grow the Chocolate orchid. Terracotta helps to absorb the excess moisture from the soil media.
On the other hand, plastic pots are great if you want to closely watch and monitor your orchid’s growth over time. If you tend to overwater your plants, avoid using ceramic pots.
Instead, use either a terracotta plant to prevent root rot or a plastic pot that has holes on the sides. This will help in maintaining airflow around the roots.
Repotting Oncidium Sharry Baby
Proper repotting of the Oncidium Sharry baby is important because slight mistakes can lead to root damage. Once the roots are damaged, the buds or spikes may die.
Ensure that you do not hurt the roots while shifting the orchid. Oncidium orchids have sensitive roots and are prone to root damage. Oncidium orchids have many pseudobulbs which can develop in any pattern. So we advise you to be careful while shifting the plant.
Avoid repotting your orchid when it is in spike or about to bloom. When we repot a plant, we disturb its root system. The roots feed the foliage, flowers, and pseudobulbs.
When we repot the orchid when it has buds, there are chances that the roots will be disturbed, and there will be less flowering. When the roots are attached to the bark chips, be careful in separating them.
If the soil medium is broken down and smelling bad, it is time to repot your orchid. If salts have accumulated in the soil mix, it is time to repot. We do not recommend frequent transplanting of this orchid. It could be between two to three years, depending on the soil mix, the roots, or the pot.
To repot, soak the older pot in lukewarm water for a few minutes to loosen up the substrate around the roots. Then gently take out the plant and remove all the debris and old soil mix from the roots. This might take a while, but once it is done, you can place it in the new potting media and keep it in the shade for a few days before shifting to a brighter spot.
Ideally, the best time to repot is when the new shoots are at least 2 inches long and have their roots. This will help the orchid adapt better to its new environment.
While repotting and separating the clumps, you can propagate your orchid with the separated division. Ensure that each division has at least three pseudobulbs.
We would most definitely recommend Oncidium Sharry baby even if you are a beginner because it is an extremely forgiving orchid.
Let us sum up all the important points you need to keep in mind before growing the Chocolate orchid.
- Oncidium Sharry baby is a sympodial, hybrid orchid that is popular for its chocolate aroma
- It produces dozens of pink to red-colored flowers at a time
- Bright direct sunlight in the morning and filtered sunlight through the rest of the day works fine for its growth
- It is a moisture-loving plant and needs frequent watering to grow well
- Water once a day in summer and reduce it to three times a week during winter; this is not a hard and fast rule though as watering schedule depends on many factors
- Avoid overwatering your orchid as stagnant water can cause root rot
- Like most other epiphytic orchids, it needs a loose, well-draining soil mix for proper growth and root development
- It prefers moderate temperatures and needs a drop in the nighttime temperature to stimulate flowers
- It needs a humidity between 40 and 70 percent; maintain humidity and ventilation around your orchid
- Repot your orchid every two to three years when the substrate breaks down or the plant is root-bound.
The hybrid Chocolate orchid is a must-have for all the fragrant flower enthusiasts out there. So if you are looking for an easy, fragrant orchid, this is the one for you. Go and get yours from the nearest garden store!
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