Tolumnia orchid is a beautiful, miniature orchid native to the Greater Antilles. It is also commonly called the mini dancing lady or equitant oncidium.
Read our ultimate guide to start growing your Tolumnia orchid.
What Is Tolumnia Orchid?
Tolumnia is a small, epiphytic orchid species endemic to Central America and the Caribbean Island Basin. It belongs to the Tolumnia genus and Orchidaceae family. In its natural habitat, the Tolumnia orchid attaches itself to the trees and branches with the help of its roots.
– Size and Growth
Tolumnia always remains miniature to small. They never grow tall, but they can become quite bushy with proper care. It grows well in hanging baskets, too, because hanging baskets help in aeration. They generally do not grow taller than 8 to 10 inches. The average time taken by the plant to reach maturity from seed is two years.
Tolumnia orchids have small foliage like other miniature orchids. It reaches 6 to 8 inches in height.
The color and size of Tolumnia orchids vary from white to dark violet depending on factors such as the variety of orchids, conditions of the plant’s maintenance, etc. They come in a wide variety of colors. Flower spikes emerge from between the leaves, and the plant blooms in clusters called inflorescence.
The spikes are much longer than the plant. If your Tolumnia is in good health, hang on to that flower spike and do not cut it, you might get another flush of blooms. Cut the spikes only when they have dried.
Mature plants can be in bloom for several months. They last two weeks to two months.
Tolumnia orchid has inflexible, tiny, and thin roots. The plant is epiphytic, which means that it likes to have a lot of ventilation around the roots rather than being suffocated by wet soil. While repotting, be careful not to disturb the plant’s roots as they can snap fast.
Tolumnia Orchid Care
The care for Tolumnia orchid is quite similar to that of any other orchid falling in the Vanda group of plants. It is an easy-to-grow orchid, and as long as you keep a few tips in mind, it shouldn’t be an issue for them to bloom.
Read on to find out the appropriate growing conditions for Tolumnia orchids.
– Light Requirements
Tolumnia orchid thrives in bright sunlight. It can easily tolerate morning and evening sun. But direct sunlight during noon can burn its leaves. Place your plant in an area that receives either the morning sunlight or the evening sunlight. Both east and west directions would work fine for its growth.
If you do not keep it under sufficient sunlight, the leaves will have a dark green shade. On the contrary, yellow or white leaves would mean that your plant is getting too much light.
In too little light, the plant will not bloom. A slightly red hue on the leaves is a sign that you are providing enough light to your plant. Use sheer curtains during noon to protect the plant from direct sunlight.
– Water Requirements
As a general rule, the higher the temperature, the higher the watering frequency. Tolumnia orchids do not like to remain wet for long periods of time. They prefer to dry out slightly in between waterings. Be sure not to get water in the crown or in between the leaves. They are quite prone to crown rot and root rot. Due to their shape, it is difficult for the water to evaporate. So water your plant from below or remove excess water with tissue paper.
When you water your plant regularly, the leaves will be plump like succulent leaves. But sometimes, due to underwatering, they get dehydrated. The first sign of dehydration that you will notice is shriveling or wrinkling of leaves. It means you need to provide more moisture to your plant.
The frequency of watering will majorly depend on the type of media you use, the size of your orchid, and the climate of your region. When planted in sphagnum moss, water your orchid every two days or so. In two days, the moss will dry, but do not let it remain dry for too long. If your plant is mounted on a tree fern or cork bark, it will require frequent watering. If you cannot provide that, it will suffer from dehydration.
Tolumnias prefer low mineral content water; you can use tap water if it is not hard. The water pH level should not be higher than 7.5. If your tap water has high mineral content, mix it with distilled water, osmosis water, or rainwater. No mineral content in the water is also detrimental, so remember to fertilize your plant regularly.
– Soil Mix
Tolumnia orchid needs a well-ventilated and well-drained growing media. A mix of the bark of coniferous trees and sphagnum moss is a good potting mix for Tolumnia orchid. The bark is a widely used media for epiphytic orchids because it contains bark chunks that retain water but not as much as the regular soils. Due to their size, they create air pockets, so there is enough aeration around the roots.
You can use only bark or only sphagnum moss as the growing medium too. Using sphagnum moss is better suited for drier environments as it helps in retaining more moisture. You could also mount your plant on cork bark or a piece of wood.
It is similar to how the plant grows in the wild. But remember that the mounted plants require frequent watering. Some other commonly used growing media are coconut husk, charcoal, and ceramic pebbles.
All the above-discussed media have different properties. Choose according to the existing conditions in your home and region.
Tolumnia orchids are warm-growers, and normal home temperatures are well-suited for their growth. They grow well in the day temperature of 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit and a nighttime temperature of 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. There should be at least a five degrees difference between the day and night temperature.
They can handle extremes, but try not putting them through temperatures lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit and temperatures higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If the weather is warm and humid, Tolumnia can bloom all year round.
Tolumnia orchid is not too picky when it comes to humidity. It grows well in the humidity range of 45 to 70 percent if planted in a pot. Mounted Tolumnia orchids may require higher humidity. These plants are not tall, so they benefit from the moisture and humidity of the potting mix. So do not worry too much about humidity levels.
A combination of humidity and ventilation works fine for this orchid. Without aeration, the roots will not be happy, and the plant may die because of root rot. Humidity without ventilation leads to fungal diseases. Tolumnia orchids do not like to stay soggy and moist all the time, unlike the oncidium orchids. But dry air leads to stunted growth in the plant and affects its overall development.
The lower the mineral content in your water, the more important it is to fertilize the plant. Fertilize your plant once a week. Provide calcium, magnesium, and nitrogen as supplements.
You could use any nitrogen-rich, liquid orchid fertilizer available in the market. Follow the instructions on the label and fertilize your plant every 7 to 10 days. Do not fertilize in winter as the plant goes dormant in colder temperatures.
– Type of Pot
Tolumnia orchids love moisture just like most other orchids. So, use a well-ventilated pot that can help in retaining moisture, at least for a full day. If you are using clay pots, add a layer of sphagnum moss on top of the potting mix to retain moisture.
Use a small pot that is appropriate to the size of the plant. You can use clay pots, plastic pots, and small baskets. Small pots dry out faster. So if you have a humid environment in your area, choose clay pots. If your environment is dry, go for a plastic pot.
– Repotting Tolumnia Orchid
If your Tolumnia is growing in a bark mix, ensure that the bark is firm. When your plant starts producing new roots and the potting mix decomposes, it is time to repot. It cannot tolerate decomposed soil mix for too long. Use a pot with drainage holes for drainage and ventilation.
Tolumnia is a showy orchid and a must-have for all orchid lovers out there. If you love flowers and falling short of space, add Tolumnia orchid to your plant collection for that extra tinge of color.
Let us quickly sum up all that we have learned about Tolumnia orchids so far:
- Tolumnia orchid is an epiphytic, miniature orchid endemic to the Greater Antilles
- It needs bright light conditions to be healthy
- It grows well and blooms in the morning and evening sunlight, and direct sun can cause leaf burns
- Let the potting mix dry out a bit in between waterings to avoid overwatering
- In pots, use a mix of bark and sphagnum moss as growing media
- Use sphagnum moss to mount the orchid on a tree fern or cork bark
- It grows well in the temperature range of 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night
- Maintain a balance between humidity and ventilation for the roots to develop fully
- High humidity without ventilation leads to root rot and other fungal diseases
- Use well-ventilated pots that also help in retaining moisture
- Fertilize your Tolumnia using a liquid orchid fertilizer once a week
- Repot Tolumnia when the bark begins to decompose, and new roots start to develop
- It can easily be propagated by seeds
Overall, Tolumnia is a great orchid, even for beginners. All you have to do is keep our care tips in mind. We hope our guide pointed you in the right direction and you’ll fill your home with these vibrant orchids soon.
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