Epidendrum are orchids of South American origin; Linnaeus initially classified with the name of epidendrum all the epiphytic orchids that he knew, in fact the name means plant that grows on trees, and therefore it is an elegant way to express the concept of epiphyte; for this reason, until some tens of years ago, many species and kinds of orchids were placed in the genus Epidendrum. More studies, which involved an in-depth analysis of the plant's DNA, led to a drastic reduction in the species that make up this genus, which are still a few dozen, and very variable between them; there epidendrum epiphytes, epidendrum soil and epidendrum used to living among the rocks. In the nursery we generally find the epiphytic or terricolous species, and their hybrids, since the species that develop between the rocks, typical of the forests of the highlands of Central and South America, are not able to survive if they are moved from their place of origin, and therefore their cultivation for fans is almost impossible.
The species found in the nursery are less than a dozen, and have similar needs; they do not have pseudobulbs, but rather develop on erect stems, similar to canes, which are very reminiscent of dendrobiums; the leaves are linear or ribbon-like, not too coriaceous, of a bright green color; the flowers are generally small, of a bright color, or green or yellow, they often bloom in panicles or corymbs, which count some dozen fragrant flowers; often the labellum has characteristic fringes, sometimes contrasting in color with the rest of the flower.
As we said, most of the species spread in the nursery are epiphytes, but they do not disdain cultivation on land; for this reason, for the epidendrum in general, a substrate is chosen which is mainly composed of universal soil, lightened with pieces of sphagnum and small pieces of bark, which also help keep the soil moist and fresh. These orchids love very bright positions, but they fear the direct rays of the sun; in winter they find room in the house, even if, to favor the flowering, it is opportune to guarantee to the plants a period of semi vegetative rest, with temperatures below 15 ° C. So during the winter, while placing the plants in a place sheltered from the rigors of winter, it is advisable to choose a luminous position, but in an unheated area of the house, with maximum temperatures below 15 ° C; even a slightly heated stairwell can fit, or we can think of placing the plants in a greenhouse, where it is easier to keep the temperatures low but not too much. In summer the plants move outdoors, taking care to position them where the sun's rays do not reach them.
Watering is the key to get lush and healthy plants; the epidendrum tends to quickly shrink, both in the case of excess watering and in the case of prolonged drought; if the leaves shrink we thin out the waterings, or on the contrary water immediately if it is a lot that we do not do it. In general, these plants do not need excessive watering, it is sufficient to keep the soil cool and just damp. During the cooler months we can water even every 8-10 days; during the hottest months we will have to intensify watering, but avoid watering too often. From the beginning of spring, until we see the first floral buds, we supply the fertilizer for orchids to the plants, every 10-12 days; as soon as we see the first flowers, we suspend the fertilization. These orchids have the particularity of flowering even for many months, because once the flowers are wilted, new ones are produced at the apex of the stem; to keep the plant beautiful and healthy, periodically remove the withered flowers with the help of a small sharp scissor.
Orchids and water
Most species of epidendrum grown in nurseries are accustomed to a tropical climate, characterized, if not by constant rain, by strong environmental humidity. Unfortunately in the apartment the air is very dry, especially in winter, when we activate the heating system, and in the height of summer, when we switch on the air conditioner. We often tend to confuse the love of certain plants due to humidity with the need for very frequent watering. Unfortunately the two things are not synonymous, and often excessive waterings, which bring the growing substrate of the plants to always be soaked with water, bring the plants to death by asphyxiation; in essence, we drown them; the humidity contained in the vase in fact, if it is excessive, and above all if it is constantly, does not allow the roots to have gaseous exchanges with the environment; in addition to this, fungi and bacteria especially love wet and hot environments, where they develop rapidly, in a completely deleterious way for plants.
High environmental humidity means having a lot of water in the air, and not in the ground; to increase the amount of water in the air it is important to vaporize the plants, passably when they are not in bloom, and with demineralized water, in order not to stain the limestone leaves; if our house is very dry, in addition to vaporizing the plants we can equip ourselves with a cold humidifier, to be placed in the room where we keep the plants, or we can place our flats in large saucers, on the bottom of which we will constantly keep the clay and some centimeter of water that evaporating will increase the humidity of the air. To increase the effect of this ploy, it is important that all house plants are kept in the same room, so that all humidification methods are concomitant, and therefore the air remains moist for a long time.
Epidendrum: Water the orchids
In addition to problems with humidity, our orchids often have problems with watering; the loose and incoherent soil in which they are grown, once dry, tends not to collect the water of the waterings; if we water it by supplying a drop of water for each pot, which quickly flows into the saucer, the roots of our plants are unlikely to benefit from such watering. To best water the orchids, the best method is by immersion: take a bowl, position the vase with the orchid and fill it with water up to the outer edge of the vase; we leave the vase immersed until the bark on the surface of the vase has absorbed water, let it drain well and reposition the vase in its place; in this way we are sure that all the substrate is fresh and moist, and the water is not finished in the saucer.