Orchids native from Florida and Mexico through South America. The several hundred species and countless hybrids range from tiny plants just 1 in. tall to giants with branching flower spikes to 6 ft. or more, bearing dozens of blooms. Most produce long spikes of yellow or brown-and-yellow flowers; a few come in white or rose. Some (including the plants described here) have compressed pseudobulbs, while others are almost without pseudobulbs; some have just one or two large leaves, others cylindrical, pencil-like leaves. Plants typically produce a few large blossoms or many small ones, but some have numerous large flowers and a few bear their blooms singly. In many, flowers have a large, flaring lip reminiscent of a flamenco dancer's skirt; these are some- times called dancing ladies. Blossoms of some are scented.
As outdoor plants, oncidiums are usually grown on tree trunks or in pots on the patio; indoor plants can be brought outdoors during warm weather. Take same houseplant culture as cattleya, page 221.
O. crispum. Pseudobulbs 4 in. high are topped by 8-in. leaves. In fall, produces a branching, 3-ft.-tall spike carrying many 4-in. flowers in chestnut brown spotted with yellow. Each bloom has a brown lip with a large bright yellow spot.
O. ornithorhynchum. Pseudobulbs 212 in. tall are topped by leaves to 1 ft. long. In summer, many branching, 8- to 12-in.-tall spikes carry a cloud of inch-wide pink or purplish pink flowers with yellow markings.
Sharry Baby. A series of powerfully fragrant hybrids with 4-in.-high pseudobulbs topped by 8-in. leaves. Spikes to 23 ft. long bear many inch-wide blossoms in summer and fall; some liken the flowers' perfume to chocolate, others to vanilla. 'Sweet Fragrance' has reddish purple blossoms with a white lip.