Epigenium is a genus that has about a dozen species of epiphytic orchids, originating in Indonesia; these orchids belonged, until 1932, to the genus dendrobium. They have short stems, which bear two long fleshy leaves, dark green, shiny and rigid, slightly arched; during the winter months from the center of the two leaves an elongated, arched or even pendulous stem emerges, on which numerous medium-sized flowers bloom, in a number of 3-4 per stem, or even in panicles of 25-20 flowers, as in the case of E. lyonii. They have various colors, from orange to yellow, from pink to purple, with narrow and pointed petals, and a lip just slightly shorter than the petals and slightly wider; usually petals and labellum are of the same intense color at the throat of the flower, suffused with lighter shades moving away towards the tip of the petals.
They are epiphytic plants, in nature they grow on the bark of other plants, with aerial roots and not buried.
They are orchids that bear temperatures close to 10-15 ° C, and require filtered light, not excessive, all year round: the ideal position is near a window screen with light fabric. In summer they can be placed outside, in a fairly ventilated place, well protected from direct sunlight.
The Epigenium are quite resistant and can withstand even the hot summer temperatures, having the foresight not to place them in direct sunlight, which can quickly cause burns on the leaves.
To have good specimens of Epigenium water regularly throughout the year, allowing the substratum to dry between one watering and another, and avoiding water stagnation. Every 3-4 days vaporize the leaves with demineralized water, especially when domestic heating is in operation and during prolonged periods of drought and on particularly hot days, so as to provide the plant with the right degree of humidity, a fundamental factor for its well-being. Since they are often grown on rafts or a piece of bark, it is essential to vaporize the exposed roots with great regularity and need to maintain the correct humidity.
These orchids need a good substrate for orchids, which lets excess water flow quickly, but which at the same time is able to slightly retain moisture. being epiphytic plants they need an adequate substrate, which guarantees proper support. An ideal soil is prepared by mixing well-cut non-resinous barks, vegetable fiber and sphagnum, so as to constitute an incoherent and light mixture. These orchids are very suitable for hanging baskets, from which the inflorescences will fall in a very pleasant manner.
The reproduction of these plants can take place by seed; at the end of flowering it is also possible to divide the tufts that form with the passing of the years. It is advisable to keep at least a couple of well-developed roots for each portion to be placed immediately on a suitable substrate for adult orchids.
Epigenium: Pests and diseases
Pay close attention to mites and cochineal. Mites, such as red spider mites, can be easily eliminated by increasing water vaporization and consequent environmental humidity. For scale insects it is possible to intervene with the use of a cloth with alcohol to pass on the leaves to remove the parasites.