These little jewels can be some of the most
rewarding of all orchids. Here in Southern
California they will survive outside with very
little effort. Sure they will freeze back some
when it frosts, but they will branch and come
back even stronger for it.
The flowers if looked at carefully are a
perfect miniature of the larger Cattleya orchids.
The flowers come in bunches on the end of the
stems, but the stem keeps getting longer and
longer so that flowers are produced almost all
year round. Only a frost will stop them.
These grow great in full sun in planter bed
with excellent drainage. Beds are usually raised
to provide that extra drainage an orchid needs.
The plant grows long and tall and flowers almost
every inch of the way. A planter mix that is full
of bark and humus will work very well. Foliar
feeding will work best, as many of the roots are
above the soil. They will take their nutrition
from the water as it passes.
Many persons grow Reed Stem Epidendrums in a
large wooden box or clay tub out on the patio,
again in full sun. If you want them to grow
strong and healthy, lots of sun will do it.
Without strong sun they have a tendencey to grow
tender and weak. Tying them up is a necessity as
they will not stand by themselves if it is too
shady. Even in full sun it is a good idea to have
a strong stake in the center of the plant. Most
of the time they won't need it, but a strong wind
will bend them over without it.
The most common color is orange, but they are
found in a wide variety of color now. You will
find in your travel, orange, pink, red, bright
red, lavender, etc., if you just ask around a
little. They have been widely hybridized with
other compatible orchids and there are many
things on the market now captializing on the
hardiness of these plants. Epi-catt is probably
the most prevalent, with some producing flowers
two or three inches across. This type of hybrid
brings the plant size down considerably, and also
the flower count drops. The flowers however are
much bigger and wider color range can be found.
If you visit the San Diego Zoo on the third
Friday of any month, you will find several
planters filled with these orchids all around the
greenhouse area. They are also scattered through
out the Zoo here and there. The planters near the
greenhouse area have been there for many years
and contain just about all the colors available.
Flowers can be seen any time of the year with
spring through fall being the heaviest flowering
For more information on reed-stem epi's go to
the AOS article
by Andy Phillips and Cynthia Hill.