Are you wondering if there exists an orchid with medicinal properties – Vanda coerulea is the answer! According to some studies, the bioactive compounds of this orchid can be used to treat diseases like Glaucoma and cataract.
In fact, in some areas of China and northeast India, the locals use its juice to make eye drops used to treat cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness.
Our expert gardeners have prepared this guide for you to grow this beautiful orchid. Read to find more!
What Is Vanda Coerulea?
Vanda coerulea or the blue Vanda is a monopodial epiphytic orchid native to northeast India and some parts of China, Myanmar, and Thailand. It belongs to the Orchidaceae family and the Vanda genus.
William Griffit and Lindley described it first in 1847. When this orchid species was first discovered, the entire Khasi hills of the state of Assam in India would look blue because these orchids were growing everywhere high on the trees. It grows at a height of 2500 to 4000 feet.
Some of Vanda coerulea’s common names are the Blue orchid, Blue vanda, Autumn lady’s tresses orchid, Kwak lei, and Lawhlei.
Size and Growth
Vanda coerulea is a slow-grower, and it grows well when tied to other bigger trees like the palm. It grows as an epiphyte in the jungles, with its roots clung to the cracks and crevices of the tree barks.
The flower spikes come out in an alternate fashion from the nodes or the axillary space between the leaves. It can bear 20 to 30 flower spikes at a time.
Vanda coerulea is a monopodial orchid meaning that it grows from a single stem with the roots emerging from the bottom. It has a single axis from which the rest of the plant structure arises.
Vanda coerulea has apical leaves that are 3 to 10 inches long and about 1 inch wide. The ligulate leaves climb the stem in an alternate fashion. The leaves are narrow and long with a bulge on the underside and have a bright light green color.
Dark green leaves mean that the orchid is not getting enough light. Too much sunlight can make the leaves pale and yellow. The bottom leaves fall off every year when they get old.
It has large bluish-purple flowers, but there can be some variations in the colors. The most common color is blue, but you can also find white and pink shades.
It blooms two to three times a year, but maximum flowering happens during the winter months. The flowers are not fragrant. They have a deep indigo lip and can be as large as 4 inches.
The Blue orchid has a robust, thick, and long root system. The roots are generally difficult to accommodate in containers which is because these orchids are epiphytic and spread their roots on the large tree trunks.
Vanda Coerulea Care: Growth Requirements
Care for Vanda coerulea is not difficult. Once you get the conditions right, you will be skilled at growing this stunning orchid. Find below the details on its requirements, such as light, water, fertilizer, humidity, and temperature.
Location and Light Requirements
Giving the Vanda coerulea the right amount of light is crucial for its growth and flowering. It loves to be in almost full sun. But if the temperatures are high and the sun is harsh, indirect sunlight works better.
If the temperature falls too low and you have frost-like conditions in your area, shift your orchid to a shady and warm spot.
Good luminosity but not the direct sun is the answer to your doubts on the right light requirements of the Blue vanda. Keep your orchid at a spot where it gets part sun and part shade during the day. Maintain strong air movement with adequate light.
The Blue orchid has high watering needs. Watering may be required almost every other day, especially during the summer months. If the temperatures are too high, water your orchid twice a day.
Reduce the watering during autumn and further during the winter months. The general rule is the higher the temperature, the higher the watering frequency, and vice versa.
To understand whether your orchid needs water or not, look at the root color. If they are greyish-white in color, it means the plant needs water. When you water the orchid, the roots will turn bright green.
If you use a sprayer to water your orchid, then spray daily for 10 minutes. You can also use a bucket full of water and dip the pot below the crown region for 10 minutes. Let the roots absorb the water, and it is good to go for another day.
Take care not to water in the stem and crown region that is above the soil mix. Water gets clogged in between the leaves, and it leads to leaf and crown rot.
Vanda coerulea is a cool to warm growing orchid and enjoys moderate temperatures. But unlike its cousins, it can tolerate temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit, and it would not freeze. It can easily tolerate cold temperatures.
In summer, it needs an average daytime temperature between 75 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit and an average nighttime temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
In winter, it needs an average daytime temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and a nighttime temperature of 45 to 47 degrees Fahrenheit.
Vanda coerulea loves loose and coarse soil mix. Use coarse bark chips and add some perlite or charcoal to keep the air moving around the orchid’s root system.
You can grow them in slatted plastic baskets in medium to large bark chips mixed with charcoal or perlite. Sometimes these orchids are grown without any substrate in hanging pots and baskets.
Try to provide the exact same conditions as these orchids get in the jungles. Provide an airy environment where the roots can get nutrition along with ventilation.
Vanda coerulea prefers a humidity level of 80 to 85 percent from summer to autumn and 50 to 55 percent during the winter months. At moderate temperature, try to maintain a humidity level above 65 percent by using humidifiers, spritzing the plant daily, and using the pebble tray method.
Use the tray full of pebbles or gravel and place it below the roots in greenhouses to keep the humidity levels high. Just remember to keep the air moving so that there are no problems like fungus development, root rot, etc.
Appropriate fertilization will give you blooms throughout the year. Use an orchid-specific fertilizer for Vanda coerulea. We recommend using one-fourth to one-half of the recommended dose mentioned on the label.
Alternatively, you can also use NPK 19:19:19 or 20:20:20 fertilizer once a week by mixing one spoon in one liter of water. For younger orchids, use nitrogen-rich fertilizers and shift to equal proportion NPK when it is big enough.
Note that you do not have to water your orchid on the day of fertilization. To avoid the problem of salt accumulation due to over-fertilization, rinse the substrate regularly.
Give the plant a good drench and let the water seep out of the drainage holes. Reduce the fertilization in autumn and eliminate it during the winter rest period.
Repotting Vanda Coerulea
Vanda coerulea needs a rest period during winter. It goes into dormancy during the winter months. So watering, fertilizing, and repotting should be done only when required. These orchids have a large root system, so they quickly outgrow all kinds of pots.
For large Vanda coerulea, repotting may not be required at all if you grow it in hanging baskets or clung to tree branches.
For smaller Blue orchids, use clay or plastic pots depending on how often you can water. In humid areas, clay pots work better because they can absorb excess moisture faster than plastic ones.
Use a plastic pot if you live in a drier region and tend to forget to water. Plastic pots give less air for the orchid roots to breathe.
If necessary, repot your orchid every two to three years early in the spring season. After transplanting it in the new pot, let it sit dry for a few days to let the roots heal from the shock. Keep it in a shaded spot, so it does not receive direct sunlight. After it has recovered from the shock, resume regular watering.
Vanda coerulea is the perfect orchid for you if you love shades of blue. The Blue vanda is one of the few orchids that has blue flowers, which is why a lot of orchid collectors around the world are so eager to get their hands on it.
Summarized below are all the important points that you need to keep in mind before growing Vanda coerulea.
- Vanda coerulea is a monopodial, epiphytic orchid that bears lavender-blue and sometimes white and pink flowers
- It is endemic to northeast India, China, Myanmar, and Thailand found at an elevation of 2500 to 4000 feet
- The blooms have a beautiful indigo hue and are about 1 to 4 inches across
- It loves bright, indirect sunlight; avoid placing it in the harsh afternoon sun
- This epiphytic orchid loves frequent watering, even more during the summer months. Reduce the watering sessions in winter, which is also the rest period
- The ideal temperature for its growth is from 65 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit during summer and 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months
- It loves a loose and well-draining soil media composed of coarse bark or cork chips and perlite; it also grows well in soilless media
- It loves a humidity level of 80 to 85 percent during the summer months and 50 to 55 percent during the winter season
- Fertilize your orchid once a week with an orchid fertilizer with one-fourth to one-half of the recommended dose; you can also use 19:19:19 NPK fertilizer
- Repot the Blue vanda every two years after flowering in early spring;
As it is, the Blue vanda is endangered in the wild and is quite a rare plant to own. So if you get a chance to get this Asian beauty, do not hesitate and give it all the love and care that you can!
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