Oncidium Twinkle (Tsiku Marguerite)
Oncidium Tsiku Marguerite ‘HOF #1’ (Twinkle x sotoanum), for the past few years, has been the single favorite oncidium in my orchid collection. This is because it is forgiving of overwaters (read: me), it grows quickly, it's compact but not tiny, and its baby-powder-fresh scent matches its innocently pale but profuse blooms.
This little "dancing lady" orchid many look fragile, but she is a workhorse. One of the things that make oncidiums a good beginner orchid is that they quite literally will tell you when they need to be repotted. Its wiry white roots will emerge at the corners and top of the pot and yell "Hey, you! Over here! Repot me!" In my case, I repotted this orchid six months ago in fine bark and sphagnum with a bit of leca and perlite, thinking it would have about 1.5 to 2 years of growth in the pot. While the media is not broken down, and there looks to be room at the top of the pot for more pseudobulbs, the roots have worked their way into every crevice in their search for nutrients. Again, this is a good thing if you tend to overwater things: it will suck up everything you give it, and then ask for more.
I also appreciate Onc. Tsiku Marguerite's foliage for its yellowy-green ombre effect. This is achieved by giving it medium light (often referred to as oncidium or cattleya light) at 2,000 to 3,000 footcandles. I have found that this hybrid is quite adaptable to light conditions, however. Last winter I had no choice but to place it under poorly performing T12 shoplights--at best a sort of high-phalaenopsis light--and yet it easily adapted to summer in a lightly shaded south-facing window. This winter I'll place it under T5-HOs. I expect that there it will live ever harder into its vigorous "monster plant" reputation. (I don't know if I would go so far as to call it thuggish in its hogging of vertical space--it's only about a foot hight from pseudobulb to leaf tip--but my other orchids might like a little light too, man.)
Oncidium Tsiku Marguerite is also a forgiving orchid in terms of temperature, happy with winter nights in the high-50s F, up to mid-70s F for summer nights. A few orchid society friends have asked me how I keep the leaves from spotting. My answer is that I think it has to do with luck--again, this hybrid is forgiving--but also in my attempts to practice good culture. More than most popular orchids, it appreciates good air movement and humidity above 50% year-round. (Once you take that first step past complex hybrid phalaenopsis, your next investments need to be a hygrometer and an oscillating fan. Digital humidity meters are inexpensive and easy to read, and often also come with 24-hour high-low temperature gauges. They are also highly satisfying!)
I like Onc. Twinkle x sotoanum because it mixes lovely characteristics of both parents. Blooms are not fully white nor fully pink, but a shaded peachy skin tone with a sunny yellow-orange center. When it's in growth mode, fertilize it at least every other week (I use MSU at full strength for most of the summer). If its leaf tips turn black, it probably means you've been a bit too heavy with the fertilizer. Give it a soak in pure water, then cut your fertilizer dose in half. In cooler winter months, reduce the fertilizer to once-a-month (or fewer) applications.
The rage for Oncidium Twinkles has been only increasing in recent years, but I encourage anyone who appreciates Twinkles to branch out into other forms of the hybrid. This sassy lady has legs.