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  • Writer's pictureOrchid Muse

Gomesa echinata

Early summer orchids are buzzing with excitement!

Gomesa echinata, aka Baptistonia echinata and Oncidium echinatum, is colloquially known as the bumblebee orchid (obvious, huh?). (To some, it's also called the hedgehog gomesa--whaa?) Prevailing wisdom often details that it blooms in spring: February to May. For me, it blooms reliably for several weeks in June, and I sometimes get a second, smaller flush in fall.

It's a fun orchid to grow because it remains compact, and begins blooming very early in its life--just a few pseudobulbs in a tiny pot will deliver a small swarm of flowers. It also has an interesting scent--herbaceous and a little bit sweet. (The bees approve of its scent as well as its shape!) Compact + easy bloomer + fragrant = my ideal orchid. It takes on some characteristics of its larger oncidium family: wiry roots, cute pseudobulbs, easy bloomer. It divides easily, which is also nice--suddenly you're everybody's best friend!

I grow Gomesa echinata in my warm grow tent, where it gets nights no less than 65F, and days in the 80s. It hails from Brazil, so it likes it hot. Ideally, light levels should be medium-high: leaves should be grassy green (not dark green) and will bloom better (and on smaller pseudobulbs) when it receives appropriately gauged light. It is also a good windowsill grower: try a western or southern window, where it gets bright light for several hours a day.

The orchid can be a bit bratty because it's prone to pests and and doesn't adapt particularly quickly to changes in light levels. It also appreciates high humidity (60-80%). Higher humidity will also keep some pests in check, especially spider mites. (If you're thinking of investing in an orchid tent, do it! It will make your life easier and your orchid growing more rewarding.)

I grow Gomesa echinata in medium bark with a bit of medium gauge perlite and charcoal. It likes to dry out a bit more than your typical oncidium, and a chunkier mix makes that easier to achieve if you water several plants at once.

As you can see, even in a three-inch pot, the orchid pushes multiple inflorescences (blooming spikes). After bloom, give it a few-week dry rest, and repot it annually when new root tips begin to sprout. Add this little buzzing beauty to your collection!


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