Alphabetical Plant Listing

Reed-Stem Epidendrum (Reed Orchids)

Reed Orchids, Ground-Rooting Orchid, Crucifix Orchid, Five Star Orchid, Rainbow Orchid


Ranging from North Carolina to South America, Reed-Stem Epidendrums (Reed Orchids) are one of the easiest orchids to grow. With their long-lasting and brilliantly colored flowers, vigorous growth and forgiving nature, Reed Orchids are ideal for the novice grower. Tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions, they adapt readily to almost any environment, indoors or outdoors, and reward you with a riot of colorful orchid blooms all year with minimal care.

Epidendrum is a large genus with about 1500 species. Most are epiphytic (growing on trees), many are lithophytic (growing on rocks) and still others are terrestrial. They are present in most subtropical and tropical countries, including well-watered gardens in Southern California and in South Florida.

The flowers are small and cluster in loose groups at the ends of long stalks above the leaves and stems. Individual flowers are 1.5 in. across (4 cm) with 3 sepals and 3 petals, one petal forming a three-lobed lip which can be toothed or fringed. The color range is wide, with red-orange being the most common variety. However, whites, yellows, pinks, and purples are available as well.

Reed-stem Epidendrums are floriferous. Blooming throughout the year, the flowers are, however, more abundant in the warmer months. They are followed by orchid pods containing numerous dust-like naked seeds.

Reed-Stem Epidendrums are an excellent addition to the landscape, where they attract hummingbirds, which is a wonderful bonus. Growing up to 3-5 ft. tall (90-150 cm), these orchids can be grown in large containers or in mass for foundations and in beds. A bed of these brightly colored orchids is visually impressive! They make excellent cut flowers too.

Reed-Stem Epidendrums spread slowly by underground rhizomes and are easily propagated by division, from tip cuttings and keikies (baby orchids).

Growing Reed-Stem Epidendrum Orchids

Light
Bright light to some sun should be given to the plant, with no direct sun in the middle of the day. With too little light, the plant will become leggy and will not flower well. If you give your Epidendrum too much light, the foliage may bronze.

Temperatures
Reed-stem Epidendrums can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and most can handle near-freezing conditions. They require a minimum night temperature of 55-60°F (12-15°C) and a daytime temperature of 60-90°F (15-32°C).

Water
These orchids are generally forgiving of water frequency and quality. Be sure to water copiously, letting water drain out of the bottom of the vessel, to prevent mineral buildup in the mix. Keep the roots moist year round, but do not let the plant sit in water.

Fertilization
These orchids require generous amounts of fertilizer. When fertilized regularly they respond immediately with denser flower spikes, greener, stronger leaves and more robust roots. Use any balanced fertilizer according to manufacturers' recommendations.

Potting
Use a mix of fine and medium grade fir bark in almost equal volumes with a 15-20% addition of coarse perlite. Other media such as coconut chips, inorganics or semi-hydroponics will work just as well. Just be sure to adjust your watering and fertilizer accordingly.

Propagation
Reed-stem Epidendrums grow baby orchids (keikis) from both the old canes and flower spikes, so do not cut off the old canes or flower spikes unless they are completely dead. These baby orchids will make roots. When they have made new roots, detach them and plant them in individual plant pots filled with an orchid soil mixture. Alternatively, cut a large piece off the cane, making sure it contains at least seven leaves or nodes and replant it bottom side down, three nodes deep, where it will readily root and send off new growth.

The best time to repot Epidendrums is in the early summer when new growth and roots appear at the base of the plant. Water the plant. Remove it from its pot and get rid of the old potting medium. Cut away all the dead growth, and then bury the good roots in the new potting medium. Water the plant again after repotting and check that it is draining well.

Pests and diseases
Reed-stem Epidendrums grown outdoors are relatively free of insects. In a greenhouse, keep an eye out for aphids, glasshouse red spider mite and mealybugs.

Tips for reblooming

Reed-stem Epidendrums will continue to flower on the same flower spike for over a year. When blooming is over, cut off the spike where the green healthy part of the stem starts, and a new flower spike will appear.

In the rare instance of a reluctant bloomer, the most common cause is not enough light. Relocating the plant to a spot where it receives as much sunlight as possible and fertilizing regularly should remedy the problem.

Guide Information

Hardiness 10 - 11
Plant Type Orchids
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 3' - 5' (90cm - 150cm)
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy, Evergreen
Attracts Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders, Patio and Containers

Somsit/Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 10 - 11
Plant Type Orchids
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 3' - 5' (90cm - 150cm)
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy, Evergreen
Attracts Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders, Patio and Containers

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