Odontoglossum Orchid

Odontoglossum Orchid

  • Scientific name: Odontoglossum Orchid
  • Common name:  Odontoglossum
  • Origin:  Central and southern America
  • Orchid type : Epiphyte
  • Flowering:  Spring. The flowers can last between 6 and 10 weeks
  • Location:  intense lighting, without direct sun. They can be outside in a shady place
  • Irrigation:  Intense during the growing season (2 to 3 times a week), and spaced during the winter
  • Humidity:  High 60% -80%
  • Level of difficulty:  Medium

Odontoglossum orchids are native to South America , mostly from the Andes area. 
This genus, according to the taxonomic nomenclature of the orchids has received a good change , since a large part of the orchids that belonged to this genus are now found within the Oncidium . 
That is why we will see that in many pages of information they claim that there are some three hundred varieties of Odontoglossum, when in fact there are a hundred, not counting the different commercial hybrids of this orchid. 
The fundamental difference between Odontoglossum and Oncidium orchids, is that the base of the lip on the Oncidium appears at right angles to its column, while in the Odontoglossum it remains horizontal.

Table Of Contents

  • 1 Characteristics of orchids Odontoglossum
  • 2 Care of the orchid Odontoglossum
    • 2.1 Lighting
    • 2.2 Appropriate temperature
    • 2.3 Irrigation and moisture needs
    • 2.4 Fertilizers
    • 2.5 Pot and substrate for the Odontoglossum

Characteristics of Odontoglossum orchids

Odontoglossum orchids are named after the Greek words odontos (tooth) and glossa (tongue) , and refer to the shape of the lip of the flower. 
The characteristics that define the Odontoglossum are:

  • It is a genus of epiphytic orchids, which live on the trunks of trees.
  • They have compressed, crushed or oval pseudobulbs.
  • They are symbiotic epiphytic orchids , in which the terminal bud dies, developing new shoots through pseudobulbs.
  • The leaves, linear and elongated, appear from the pseudobulbs.
  • The flower stems appear between the pseudobulbs and the basal leaves. They can have between 5 and 20 flowers , which last between 6 and 10 weeks.
  • The flowers are large and striking , usually mottled or sprinkled with spots of different colors.
  • The roots of the Odontoglossum orchids are much more delicate than in other species, so they should be treated with great care when performing transplants.
odontoglossum orchid

Care of the orchid Odontoglossum

If we are lucky enough to get an Odontoglossum orchid, we must bear in mind that it is an orchid a little different from tropical orchids, it needs specific care that reproduces its natural habitat. 
These are the basic care of the Odontoglossum orchid, which you must take into account so that your specimen grows healthy and flourishes every year:


The Odontoglossum require medium lighting conditions, they thrive well if the lighting they receive is intense, but indirect. 
We can discover if the illumination is correct, observing its leaves:

  • When the lighting is adequate, the leaves will have a green color, but not very dark.
  • If you get too much sun, reddish streaks may appear on the leaves or turn a redder tone … if it is already excessive, they may burn.

A suitable location inside the house would be a window facing west. If the location of our house is sunnier, we will have to move the orchid away from the window, so that it receives less lighting. 
It may be the case that if it receives a lot of light, the appearance of the flowers is delayed.

Adequate temperature

They are orchids that should be cultivated in a rather fresh environment, for what we usually handle. 
During the day the temperatures must move between 18ºC to 24ºC, to pass at night temperatures between 10ºC and 14ºC. 
They could admit higher temperatures for very short periods of time, since, if the high temperatures are constant, the flowers will not open.

Irrigation and humidity needs

Odontoglossum orchids should be watered frequently, they like the substrate to be moist … although not waterlogged. 
We can know if we are watering everything the orchid needs by observing the leaves. If it is not enough the leaves can be folded (folded) and the pseudobulbs will be wrinkled. 
It should be irrigated with rainwater or with a low amount of salts . 
The water should be at room temperature, or slightly warm. It is better to water in the morning, so that the orchid will give time for the substrate to dry, before the night temperatures drop. 
They need a humid environment, between 60% and 80%.A good way to provide this moisture is to put the orchid on a plate with water, with the precaution of putting some pebbles or balls of clay, so that the roots are not in direct contact with the water. 
Humidifiers can also be added. 
It is important that ventilation is good, to avoid the occurrence of fungal attacks.

Nutrients And Fertilizers

The Odontoglossum are grateful that they are added a balanced fertilizer at least twice a month. It is convenient to do it with the irrigation water or after having watered. 
How it happens with all the majority of the orchids, if we are in time of flowering, a fertilizer with a higher proportion of phosphorus and potassium is convenient, but if we are in a growing season, it is better to have a higher nitrogen content.

Pot and substrate for the Odontoglossum

The Odontoglossum need to be transplanted every two years or so , to replace the substrate . 
We will use a fine grain substrate for orchids, which drains well. 
As for the pot , it is not necessary to be transparent as with the Phalaenopsis , but if it is interesting that it is not excessively large, only a couple of centimeters larger than the current one, that it has room to grow, but not too much. 
We will be very careful when transplanting the orchid, so as not to damage its roots. It is recommended to keep it in water or water abundantly, so that the substrate softens and then transplant.
In the process we will remove the damaged roots, cutting them with a sharp tool.

odontoglossum orchid

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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