Some orchid varieties are beginning to lose their appeal due to industrial scale production and all-year-round availability in almost all sales channels. This is especially true for Phalaenopsis. Once upon a time these were expensive flowering plants and purchased for special occasions. Now, thanks to the mechanization and automation of the crop, they are cheap and represent the most sold flowering pot plant in Europe.
Many years ago, an excellent range of Epidendrum pot-grown orchids was displayed at the Euroflora exhibition (Genova, Italy). A series of hybrids with compact upright stems and densly packed flowers in short-stemmed inflorescences (see above picture) in a variety of strong colours. This collection of hybrids had been made available by Global Orchid Exchange Pty, Ltd, in Australia and shown by horticultural expert Gerrit Karremans linked to a foliar applied bioactive silicon product (stabilized mono-silicic acid) used to stimulate flower induction. See Hortcom theme ‘Silicon in Agriculture’.
While six hybrids are said to be available from the Dutch auction markets, they are seen quite rarely at retail. The Dutch auctions list the varieties: Ballerina (purple), Snow (white), Tropical (yellow – orange), Fireball (red-orange), Tiffany (red) and Yellow (yellow).
Epidendrum orchids are tough plants and easy to grow in sunny indoor situations and also out-of-doors with minimum temperatures of about 12°C. Some varieties are scented. As the flower stem elongates, more flower buds are produced. Global Orchid Exchange Pty Ltd in Australia is not traceable online and other nurseries list Epridendrum as a marginal genus of orchids, more as a source for botanical collections. See: American Orchid Society and pdf catalogue of Aranbeem Orchids Australia
Why are more nurseries not breeding and growing Epidendrum hybrids for commercial scale production and distribution as pot plants? The plants seen at Euroflora were compact with a height of no more than 45-50cm. They are probably suitable for small and medium-sized companies that have difficulty in enlarging their scale and making investments in automation and mechanization. It appears that some Epidendrum species can be successfully cultivated as cut-flowers. See video: Epidendrum Youtube video and Orchid Web.
While typically Epidendrum orchids are epiphytic, growing in low nutrient conditions around rocky surfaces rocks and on trees, they can be grown as pot plants provided the substrate is loose and well-aerated and kept moist. The genus is indigenous to the Americas in tropical and sub-tropical climates and contains over 1000 species.