Oncidesa Sweet Sugar Orchid

posted in: Gardening | 29

How to care for the yellow dancing lady - Oncidesa Sweet Sugar orchid ... formerly known as Oncidium.

They're Dancing Ladies ....

You'll find Oncidesa Sweet Sugar orchid sold across the UK in the houseplant department. The native orchid comes originally from Central and South America though it can even be found growing in Florida. The hybrids that you'll find for sale in the UK will tolerate warm conditions and can be grown easily in the home or in the greenhouse.

Aerial Dancing ...

If you look closely her labellum resembles a broad yellow skirt with a reddish-brown coloured bodice. Her arms are a set of sepals on each side of the labellum and another sepal is her head. Oncidesa Sweet Sugar orchid has a very light fragrance that permeates the air during the day.


The orchid is very popular too and much favoured by floral designers. It has the most impressive slender stems with numerous sprays of blooms. Moreover, each one looks like a troupe of dancers on stage.


Each pseudobulb can produce up to two flowering stems. While each stem can have about 10 - 15 flowers. In its natural habitat Oncidesa Sweet Sugar orchid is a sympodial epiphyte.


It's a natural tree hugger which probably explains why the orchid is always trying to grow out of its pot!

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 Oncidesa Sweet Sugar orchid formerly known as Oncidium - the yellow dancing lady orchid
Oncidesa Sweet Sugar orchid

Care Instructions for Oncidesa Sweet Sugar Orchid


  • The winter minimum night temperature should be 10°c (50°F).
  • The winter day time temperature should be about 15°c (60°F) but keep the plant away from hot radiators and very dry air.
  • The summer day time temperature  should be steady at 25°c (75°F) and they really like a natural drop in temperature overnight.

Watering - if in doubt don't!

  • Give a good water once a week - more often if the conditions are warmer and you notice that the compost is drying out quickly.
  • If the new psuedo bulbs appear concertina-like it's a sign of lack of water or that the plant hasn't got a good enough root system to take up the water. The psuedo bulbs act like water reserves so the orchid can withstand a short period of dryness.


  • Repot every other year or if there is no more room left in the pot for new psuedo bulbs to grow.
  • Use a good orchid compost that is free draining.
  • The roots are very thin so don't repot in a pot that's too big.

How to repot an Oncidium Orchid




Orchid Myst spray is a weak feed and a revolutionary new way to provide orchids with all the necessary minerals and nutrients. It's a plant tonic, pest repellent, growth enhancer, and leaf conditioner all in one! However, some orchids need a stronger feed after a period of time. So if you are not happy with the results you can move on to one of the stronger feeds at the end of this post.


  • They enjoy lots of light from a south facing window in dark short days of winter.
  • During the summer months keep it shaded from the sun or place in a west, east or north facing window.


this is an image of a yellow dancing lady orchid - oncidium

How long does it flower for? 

  • The flowers should last about 6 - 8 weeks if the conditions are cool and fresh.


How to look after it after it's finished flowering?

  • Once it has finished flowering the old stem can be cut back to the leaf axil to keep the plant looking tidy as it won't flower again from this stem.
  • New pseudo bulbs will grow and from those a new stem will appear as the bulb matures.

How to encourage new flowers?

  • Once the orchid is in growth mode and shows a new shoot move it into a cooler room until the orchid starts to show a spike forming in the new stem. Then move the orchid back to it's warmer room again to encourage the flowers to grow.


  • Give a high potash feed every 2 weeks in spring and summer. However, give the orchid a drink of plain water 4 days after feeding to wash away the salt residue from the feed.


  • Feed only once a month in autumn/winter. 

After selling so many different brands of orchid feed over the last 18 years I can say that these are the best feeds on the UK market:

Orchid Focus Grow (affiliate link) which has high levels of nitrogen, to encourage the growth of healthy shoots and leaves and contains no urea which can damage epiphytic orchids.

Orchid Focus Bloom (affiliate link) has enhanced levels of phosphorus and potassium to support and prolong heavy flowering. Contains high levels of humic and fulvic acids for increased soil fertility, healthy and abundant growth.

Orchid Ultra (affiliate link) which is a tonic that can be mixed with Orchid Bloom or Orchid Grow. Ultra is richly endowed with pure humic and fulvic acids to encourage healthy growth and heavy flowering.

If you are interested in houseplant care I have published some more blog posts:


How to care for Calathea crocata Tassmania Blooms – The Eternal Flame flower.

How to make a bromeliad flower - which also details how to water, feed, repot, and make an indoor bromeliad tree.

How do I look after a Zygopetalum Orchid?



Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.

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29 Responses

  1. Edith Hope

    Dear Rosie, Certainly this is a very lovely orchid. But then, as I imagine you would agree, all orchids are desirable. Unfortunately, as I believe I have mentioned but possibly not here, I have no success whatsoever with indoor plants.

  2. leavesnbloom

    @Edith Hope

    Edith I love this orchid but can't get it back into flower so I go and buy another – I have a window sill full of orchids and I'm waiting patiently for some new flower spikes.

  3. Manang Kim

    In the Philippines we call this orchid a "Dancing Lady" if you notice it look like a little lady dancing with her beautiful dress. ^_^

    The petal

  4. Noelle

    She is certainly lovely. I have seen her grown in commercial plantings, but have not grown her myself. I am nurturing two moth orchids for the first time and have had some success, but it is too early to tell if I will be successful in the long term…

  5. Meredith

    Rosie, she's so bright and pretty. She's wearing such a bright party dress, and I loved how you called her a "natural tree hugger." 😉

    I've never grown orchids, but a friend of mine swears by mixing the dregs of his coffee pot (just the tiny, darkest bit at the end) into the watering can he uses for his orchids, letting it stand at room temperature before adding it. His many orchids always seem to be in bloom, altho it sounds unorthodox to me!

  6. KarenSloan-WallFlowerStudio

    Hello Rosie,
    This is certainly a lovely Oncidium. They do appear to dance. A little reminiscent of a Dutch girl in traditional costume!
    Have not grown them myself, (only Paphs). A friend of mine is very successful with orchids of all kinds. Shall have to forward your blog to her.
    Will look forward to Macro Mondays from now on!

  7. LC

    Thank you for visiting my blog earlier! I can tell you that I'm going to enjoy perusing yours… and so many links that I'm not familiar with… wow! LC

  8. Andrea

    Hello Rosie, i've been absent in blogging for awhile since last week. We have Oncidium too, it has many species and varieties. It really is fascinating how we label orchids' common name; butterfly/moth orchids for Phalaenopsis, dancing lady for Oncidium, lady slippers for Paphiopedillum, etc. They really looks like their epithet. I am familiar with their smell, and i love them. Enjoy yours too!

  9. Lynne

    Thank you Rosie for your warm welcome – now I can visit your garden in Scotland. Your flowers are lovely, even with the challenges from the weather. I think we must have sent our 2099 winter weather (4 feet of snow & -12C nights) your way. Oddly, this winter has been the warmest that I can remember on the coast – just when we could have used all that snow for the Olympics!
    I have one lonely little white orchid in my office, not anywhere as pretty as your dancing lady!

  10. Jay

    That's a very pretty orchid! I've only grown phalaenopsis so far, so I can't help you on the culture of this one. I'd like to try different types, but our garden centres are so limited in orchid varieties! I'm looking for a cattleya 'Little Pirate' but cannot find one.

  11. leavesnbloom


    Meredith I've read about a few folk doing that with the coffee – I know little about that so I would be grateful for any information on this. Thanks!

  12. leavesnbloom

    I missed you Andrea and I did pop over a few times during the week to just check that I had not missed a post from you. I hope you enjoyed your little rest. I suppose many people find it easier to remember their common names plus they are easier to spell. Where you come from you see orchids far more spectacular than this!

  13. leavesnbloom

    Lynne thanks for taking up on my invitation and popping over. Yeah my neighbour keeps a record of what is in flower in her garden each year and we are 3 weeks behind last year for blooms.

  14. leavesnbloom

    @Jay Hi Jay sometimes you have to go to an orchid specialist nursery rather than a garden centre and buy through the mail. I rarely see cattleya's for sale in UK garden centres and when they are for sale they are expensive but their blooms are quite incredible.

  15. maiaT

    Indeed it looks like a dancing lady. It is a gorgeous orchid but aren't they all?
    Unfortunately it is very difficult to nurture the by our climate, I admire them only at the florist.
    You have a very beautiful and informative blog.

  16. Melanie

    Rosie she is very pretty and even more so that she smells so nice. I didn't know orchids had a fragrance. I had an orchid once. It never reflowered. I kept it on a shelf in the kitchen soon forgot to water it and ….

  17. noel

    aloha rosie,

    hey are getting tropical on me now??? i love these little beauties…mine haven't bloomed recently, i think i need to go out and start fertilizing again 🙂

    nice post 🙂

  18. maiaT

    I see you didn't change your layout after all. Your blog is very beautiful as is.
    I just started Macro Flowers Saturday meme and I came to invite you to participate.
    You really have many beautiful flowers, I hope you join the fun.