A good beginners orchid. Also known as Crucifix Orchids, these plants are native to South America where they have adapted to growing in environments as diverse as dry tropical forests, sunny grassy slopes, steamy jungles and damp rain forests.
Epidendrums need strong light and will grow in full sun. They may need protection from the mid-day summer sun otherwise the plants will become bronzed and may burn. Too little light will cause the plant to become leggy and it may not flower.
Epidendrums are very hardy plants, they prefer to have their roots kept moist but will survive if they are dry for a short time. They do not like to have their roots sitting in a continually wet environment. Container grown plants need enough water to flush salts from the container regularly.
Regular feeding produces denser flower spikes, stronger, greener leaves, more robust roots and more flowers. A slow release fertilizer can be given or the plant may be given soluble fertilizer at one quarter the recommended strength at weekly intervals.
Epidendrums will grow anywhere, on a cork block, or tree-fern slab, in a pot or in a garden bed. The crucial element is the need for a loose, open, free draining surrounding for the roots to prevent rot. Plants grown in the open need to be protected from frosts.
Epidendrums are not susceptible to attack by many pests. An abundance of ants around the plant will often be associated with an outbreak of aphids or scale. Slugs and snails will feast on the flowers.
Now that you have your plant growing well, you may wish to grow more of them. Older canes may start to develop a side shoot, as this grows, aerial roots will form at the base of this shoot. This is called a keiki. When the roots are 50 to 100 mm in length, the keiki can be easily broken off from the stem and planted in a pot of its own to continue growing.