Oncidium Twinkle Care

Plant Doctor Christopher Satch

Background Information

Oncidium Twinkle is one of my top recommendations for beginners to orchids.  It’s one of the easiest orchids to take care of, because it behaves more like a houseplant than an orchid.  It’s a relatively small/compact plant, so it’s easy to fit into any collection.  It’s also floriferous and extremely fragrant.  If you’re not hooked on the fresh-cake or ice cream fragrance that these plants make, I don’t know what to tell you!

Oncidium Twinkle is a registered hybrid from 1958[1] [2], and is a primary cross between Oncidium cheirophorum (seed parent) x Oncidium sotoanum (pollen parent). 

Oncidium Twinkle ‘White Shower’ smells like pastries

Oncidium cheirophorum is a dwarf species[3] [4] that hails from Mexico through to Colombia[5] at medium elevations in cool cloud forests where it blooms in the fall/winter4.  It has green-yellow fragrant flowers that smell kind of like lemon cleaning products.  It’s used as the mother to impart its size to the progeny.

Oncidium sotoanum is a medium-sized species that hails from Mexico through Panama[6] at low elevations in hot and humid wet forests where it blooms in the fall and winter[7] [8].  It has bright pink fragrant long-lasting flowers that have a range of scents, depending on the country of origin and lineage, and can range from its perfume smelling like vanilla, grape, baby powder, spicy, cinnamon, cocoa, and/or candy-scented8.  It’s used as the father to improve the fragrance, color, and longevity of the flowers.  This species is used to perpetually moist conditions and responds very well to warmth.

Combined together, the best of both parents was selected for in the cross – long-lasting, pleasant, sweet-scented flowers on small to dwarf plants that just keep producing new growths and flushes of flowers.  It seems as though in this cross, the cool requirement of cheirophorum is cancelled out by the hot requirement of sotoanum.  Interestingly, because this is a primary hybrid, there is quite a bit of variability.  Flower colors can range from a creamy white through yellow to a red-brick pink.  For me, this blooms at any time of the year, so long as conditions are good.

Oncidium Twinkle ‘Red Fantasy’ in a 2.5″ pot

General Care


Bright ambient light with a few hours of direct sunbeam exposure up to a half a day’s worth of direct sunbeams.  These will produce more blooms and growths with more light.


Water when the media nears-dry.  Don’t know when?  FEEL the media!


Will grow a tad faster with more humidity, but as long as it’s well-watered, then it can withstand low humidity.


65°F-85°F (18°C-30°C). It’s best not to let it go below 60°F (15°C).


Plant in either pure sphagnum, or 75% sphagnum and 25% orchid bark mix in a plastic clear pot.

Blooming / Flowering

Can bloom at any time of the year, up to twice a year.  They will be more fragrant with the more light, and are only fragrant during the day.

[1] https://bluenanta.com/detail/information/?pid=100018091&role=pub



[4] http://www.orchidspecies.com/onccheirophorum.htm

[5] http://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:646947-1

[6] http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:77106545-1

[7] https://www.orchid-idea.com/en/product/?s=5218&p=844007

[8] http://www.orchidspecies.com/oncsotoanum.htm

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