Sunday, 18 October 2015 00:59

Epidendrum and Encyclia Culture

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Epidendrum and Encyclia are now often synonymized. This group of plants vary from truly epiphytic to occassionally terrestrial. They may be very small to quite large, either with or without rhizomes (underground roots which travel and produce new plants). Species with somewhat large onionlike pseudobulbs were once included in Epidendrum . Most of these species are now placed in the genus Encyclia.. Those species with slender, simple or branched stems, with leaves at intervals throughout their entire length, were left in the genus Epidendrum .

Care for both genera is the same. Their culture is much like that of Cattleyas.



Widely diverse, depending on species. In very general terms, a range of 50° to 85° F. is preferable for most plants, although certain species from higher altitudes are happier with cooler temperatures.



Epidendrum and Encyclia require abundant moisture at their roots, especially when in active growth. When the pseudobulbs are mature, the watering should be somewhat curtailed. They should be placed in a very well-draining medium. Water once or twice times a week in relatively cool weather, but at least 3 times a week in hot weather.



These plants require a large amount of light. once established, filtered sunlight should be supplied. Both Epidendrum and Encyclia grow very well in a area with house screening overhead, such as a pool or patio enclosure. The ideal location is an east facing area, where the plants will get morning sun, but not the hot afternoon sun.



Epidendrum and Encyclia should be fed consistently, when in full growth. During the Spring through early Fall, fertilizing every seven days, with several clear waterings in between, will make your plants happy. In the late Fall through Winter, a light feeding once a month will suffice.

The fertilizer formula should match the potting medium. Use 20-20-20 with tree fern, charcoal, or various inorganic aggregates, but use 30-10-10 with fir bark. We recommend non-urea based fertilizers at half strength. Non urea fertilizers provide 100% immediately available nitrogen, which urea based fertilizers do not. We recommend Grow Mor fertilizers , which also have micro nutrients. The micro nutrients provide strength for the new growth and support for the flowers.



Epidendrum and Encyclia do not resent being disturbed, so re potting should be undertaken whenever necessary. The best time is after all flowering has ceased. To minimize root damage, a warm water soak for 10 minutes, will make most roots very pliable and easier to remove from the container.

The best potting container for Epidendrum and Encyclia plants is clay orchid pots. The plastic pots are second choice and considerable cheaper. Water in plastic pots does not evaporate as fast as in clay pots, but if adjustments in watering frequency are made, no problems will be encountered. Wooden baskets are ideal and can be used to grow specimen size plants, as the plants can grow in the same basket for many years. The baskets allow free air flow over the roots, and eliminate over watering problems.


The potting medium must be well-drained, i.e. coarse fir bark, lava rock, river rocks, pieces of broken pottery, chunks of tree fern, hardwood charcoal, etc. so that the roots can be wet, but then dry quickly.    

When dividing these plants, always divide into parts with four psuedobulbs or stems. Remove any dead roots from the divisions, then lay the divisions aside until new root growth begins. At that time, usually a week or so, repot the divisions in their new pots. Now the plants can be watered and fertilized as usual, without worrying about rotting them, because they retained no roots in the division. Newly repotted plants should be placed in slightly lower light for several weeks.




When you purchase a new plant, always place it where you can watch it for a couple of weeks until it is acclimated to your area. Initially, water the plant thoroughly and place it in a bright location with good humidity.    

A preventative spraying of Orthene 75%, wettable powder or in aerosol, on maturing flower buds will prevent thirp damage, as well as aphids and ants. If insects are found on the open flowers, the same chemical can be used to eradicate the infestation, without damaging the flowers. Other insecticides WILL damage the flowers and should not be used. Use Orthene spray as recommended on the label. If using the aerosol, spray from at least a foot away from the flowers. In addition, Orthene 75% does not leave any unsightly residue.    

Examine your plants on a regular basis. Always remove the dried sheathing from pseudobulbs to prevent buildup of moisture, and as a hiding place for insects. In nature, the breeze removes the sheath. In captivity, you must remove the sheath. The removal of the sheath also provides more surface for photosynthesis activity. Insects, particularly scale insects, find plants attractive. Also slugs and snails will dine on these plants. Following the label recommendations on your favorite insecticide will usually solve any insect problem. 70% isopropyl alcohol and dish soap make a good alternative insecticide for small outbreaks.




  • All About Orchids, by Charles Marden Fitch
  • Home Orchid Growing, 5th Ed by Rebecca Northen
  • The Cattleyas and their Relatives, Vol. 1 by Dr. Carl L. Withner
  • Growing Orchids - Book Two, by J. N. Rentoul
  • Orchid of Brazil by Jim and Barbara McQueen
  • Encyclopedia of Cultivated Orchids, by Alex D. Hawkes
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Orchids, by Alec Pridgeon


Read 3946 times Last modified on Sunday, 18 October 2015 01:11
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