Oncidium “Sharry Baby” is a fantastic addition to any orchid enthusiast’s collection. The plant is excellent for beginners, and its showy blossoms and sweet chocolate scent are appealing to even the most experienced orchid collector. This oncidium, which is widely available from a number of different nurseries, is remarkably easy to care for. Here’s how to get the most from your Sharry Baby orchid.
Oncidiums are epiphytes, or tree-dwelling plants. This particular oncidium is a hybrid: It was made by crossing two other oncidium hybrids, Oncidium “Jamie Sutton” and Oncidium “Honolulu.” Sharry Baby orchids grow small, flat pseudobulbs and long, leathery leaves. When they bloom, they put out long spikes of showy, brick-red and cream flowers that smell strongly of chocolate. Mature plants can put out numerous spikes at the same time.
Like all epiphytes, Sharry Babies require open, freely-draining media to thrive. There are a variety of appropriate potting media to choose from. Growers who tend to over-water should consider a medium-grade, bark-based mix for their plant, and people who tend to under-water may do well with a fine-grade bark mix, sphagnum moss, or a mix of the two. Potting soil and peat moss are not appropriate for oncidiums and will retain far more water than is healthy for the plant.
There is a variety of pots that can be used for a Sharry Baby orchid, and growers can experiment to find which pot best suits their needs. Terracotta pots are a common choice for orchids, and their porous material allows water to evaporate relatively quickly.
Clear plastic pots, which allow growers to monitor the health of their plant’s root system, exposes the plant’s media to sunlight, which speeds evaporation and prevents root rot. For chronic over-waterers, plastic basket-style pots are ideal because their open sides allow maximum drainage and airflow.
Sharry Baby orchids, like most oncidiums, require relatively high humidity. This is easily accomplished by placing your potted orchid atop a tray of pebbles. When you water your plant, excess water will drain through the holes in the pot and collect in the tray. The evaporating water raises the humidity to a healthy level.
Sufficient water is important to keeping Sharry Baby orchids happy, and watering schedules will depend on the size and location of the plant, the type of pot and potting media in which it is planted, and the light and airflow it receives. Generally, this oncidium liked plenty of water.
While the plant is actively growing, the media should be be almost dry between waterings. After active growth has stopped, allow the plant to dry out entirely before watering again. Growers can tell if their plant is receiving enough water by monitoring the pseudobulbs. If the plant is not receiving enough water, the pseudobulbs will shrivel.
Light levels for these orchids can be tricky. Opinion varies widely on how much light to give Sharry Babies. Some orchid websites like Orchid Web recommend low to medium light, while other growers insist that full sun to partial shade is needed.
Too much sun can result in brown spots on the leaves and can cause dry tips on leaves, and too little sun can result in little to no new growth and will prevent flowering. This oncidium is a hearty orchid, and new growers can experiment with light levels without endangering their plant. To begin, though, try placing your Sharry Baby in a location that receives morning sun and bright afternoon shade. East- and south-facing windows should provide adequate light.
The different oncidiums that were used to create the Sharry Baby all thrive in different climates, so this particular hybrid tolerates a wide range of temperatures.
Daytime temperatures in the mid-70s and low 80s F are ideal, but temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s are well tolerated. Keep in mind that while these orchids can tolerate relatively high temperatures, they need increased humidity, air circulation, and water in particularly hot environments.
There is a little less flexibility when it comes to nighttime temperatures. Sharry Baby orchids should not be exposed to temperatures below 55 to 50 F. Night temperatures of at least 60 are necessary to induce blooming.