Epidendrium – description and care

Epidendrium is a large genus of mostly epiphytic orchids in the family Orchidaceae, comprising about 1100 species. It is native to the tropics and subtropical regions of North and South America, from South Carolina to Argentina, where the habitat varies from humid jungles to dry tropical forests, from sunny grassy slopes to cool cloud forests. Most species can be found in the Andes, at altitudes of between 1000m and 3000 m.

Epidendrium species are varied in flower size and appearance. The inflorescences are usually dense, and come in tufts, racemose, in corymbs or panicles. The plain but fragrant, small to medium size flowers are apical, lateral or basal. Its fruits are 3-ribbed capsules.

Epidendrum orchids hybridized easily with Cattleya species and other related genera. Although Epidendrum flowers are not showy, many are nevertheless widely cultivated. Many species thrive in intermediate to warm conditions


This is a very large genus, that is the source of many discussions. Plants by many poeple still indicated as Epidendrum, have changed name long ago, like to mention one of the best known ones: Encyclia. The genus contains about 750 species which have many synonyms.

  • The plants grow between rocks and on trees and originate from Latin America.
  • We are manily interested in Epidendrum ibaguense H.B.K., better known as Epidendrum radicans.
  • This genus does not have pseudobulbs, but only a stem that may be small or large, up to 1.50 meter.
  • Bunches of flowers appear at the end of the stem. The plant may flower for several months.
  • The plants are known to be strong and having many roots, both inside and outside the container.
  • Currently offered species are available with yellow, pink, white or red flowers. Epidendrum Ballerina is one of these. Another one is the small red flowering Epidendrum hybrid named Epiphronitis veitchii.


This plant is a gain for your window-sill or sun lounge. The plants need much light, almost full sun. The plants can be kept outside at a sheltered place during summer.

Preferred temperature between 18 and 25 oC during summer, with night temperatures of about 12 oC. In winter, the day temperatures should be lowered to 12 to 15 oC. Water should be given once a week, with some fertilizer. When the plants are kept in the living room, that is being heated, the watering should be continued in winter in this frequency. When the plants are kept in the cool sun lounge, it will be sufficient to give water only once per 2 weeks. Mind that the leaves do not shrivel. This may indicate that the plant got too much water or that it had stayed dry too long.

After flowiring, which is in summer, it is adviced to cut the plant till about 15 cm above the soil. This forces the plant to have a restart before the winter season.

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