The Ascocenda Orchid is a fascinating orchid species that is represented by the most handsome large orchid plants and an equally wide variety of beautiful orchid flowers. This orchid is not very different from the Vanda orchid and the Phalaenopsis orchid in all these orchids are tropical orchids that thrive as warm-climate orchids. As an orchid grower you will always want to bring out the best in your orchid plants this then means that you need to observe certain cultural specifics that are required for the successful cultivation of Ascocenda orchids. The natural home of the Ascocenda orchid species are places like Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo and the Philippines.
All Ascocenda orchids prefer full sun exposure and bright light with warm temperatures and high humidity levels. These orchids are all epiphytic and sympodial in their growth habit. To this end they sport long trailing roots that are capable of drawing nutrients and the required moisture from the atmosphere.
The Ascocenda orchid is considered as difficult to cultivate by some orchid growers, however, their charm is well worth the supplying of their particular needs and the studying of their habits.
Nowadays it is common to see Ascocenda orchids being cultivated all over the world. Avid orchid growers create just the right type of conditions for these Ascocenda orchids. In fact encountering Ascocenda orchids in places like Durban (South Africa), Florida (USA) and even in the Netherlands is more commonplace. This fact can be attributed to the many successful hybridizations that have been carried out involving the Ascocenda orchid with other orchid species.
The plants are pseudobulb-less, the leaves distichous (dis-tik-ous), or disposed in two parallel lines along the heavy, erect stem. The tendency of the stem is to grow up toward the sun, as the surprised amateur finds when his plant reaches the roof and has no more room to grow. The lower leaves frequently drop off.
Thick aerial roots form along the stem and, when smooth, green-tipped, and fat, indicate that the plant is progressing. When the orchid plant stems become shriveled and ringed, something is drastically wrong with their culture.
The color spectrum on Ascocenda orchids is quite wide and can include pinks, browns, blues, purple, orange, scarlet and even deep fuchsia shades. In the showier orchid species the flowers are borne in loose racemes and have spreading sepals and petals; in other Ascocenda orchids the petals are spread and tend to roll under.
True to its nature and like other orchids that resort under the tropical orchid label, the Ascocenda orchids prefer warm temperatures with plenty of air movement. In fact if provided with the right conditions regarding temperature and sunlight and high temperatures throughout both winter and summer, these orchids will grow. You just need to take care that if you grow Ascocenda orchids in your home orchid garden outdoors that your orchids will perish if they are exposed to frost and cold for long periods. This is equally true if you cultivate your Ascocenda orchids indoors and you need to keep the temperature at the optimal level for Ascocenda orchid growth. In colder weather the Ascocenda orchid is known to go into a dormant state. This dormant state is not necessarily detrimental and in some cases it is necessary to ensure that your orchid flowers in the next flower season will be bigger, better and showier. A low of 15° Celsius (59° Fahrenheit) in winter and high of 32° Celsius (98° Fahrenheit) in summer would be the ideal temperature for Ascocenda orchid cultivation.
Ascocenda orchids need light to thrive. If you do not provide your orchid plant with the correct amount of light you will end up with an orchid plant that is weak, soft and lanky in structure. It is best to make use of a 20 to 30 % shade cloth if you are growing Ascocenda orchids indoors or outdoors in your home orchid garden. Ascocenda orchids grow very quickly and you need to protect you orchid plant from growing inferior by providing the right light conditions.
Water and humidity
When it comes to the Ascocenda orchid and growing, the Ascocenda orchids are considered sun-worshipers. They will not thrive without adequate sun, and they must have corresponding amounts of heat and water. Care must be exercised to keep water from remaining in the growing crown.
Ascocenda orchids, since they are without pseudobulbs, must have water at all times, but their lusty aerial roots will take care of some deficiency in watering by taking moisture from the air.
Much like the Phalaenopsis orchid that is also pseudobulb-less, the Ascocenda orchid must not be allowed to dry out entirely. Watering of this species must be done with care to prevent water from remaining in the crowns, a condition that is conducive to the growth of fungus.
The Ascocenda orchid has a reputation as a heavy feeder. As the orchid grower it is up to you to provide your Ascocenda orchids with a high nitrogen orchid fertilizer like 30:10:10 during spring to shake it up after its winter dormancy. During the summer you should follow the feeding regime with a general fertilizer and an adequate bloom booster in the fall. Feeding the Ascocenda in winter would be superfluous unless you intend to provide your Ascocenda orchid with the correct temperatures to prevent it from going dormant.
Pests and Diseases
There are very few pests and diseases that impede Ascocenda orchid culture. On the rare occasions that you might find that your Ascocenda orchids have fallen prey to them is when scale insects perhaps infested your orchid plants. The cure is quite easy, just make use of a cotton bud to wipe the surface of the orchid leaves with methylated spirits and follow up this treatment with a systemic spray. Only treat bad infestations with chemicals.
Potting mix and Repotting
The Ascocenda orchid can become very large orchid plants. Certain orchid plants (all Ascocenda orchids, all Vanda orchids, some Laelia orchids, and Coelogyne orchids) react so badly to repotting that it is best to resort to other expediencies. To circumvent this problem it is best to grow your Ascocenda orchids in wooden baskets that are suspended in the air so as to provide them with the correct growth conditions (that is the bright light that is so vital). The potting of the Ascocenda orchid is referred to as Basket Culture. You can also make use of rafts to successfully grow Ascocenda orchids – the so-called Raft-culture.
With both the basket culture and the Raft culture cultivation methods, your Ascocenda orchid will do better than in a pot. The roots will then be able to wander freely through the Osmunda tied around the base of the plant and the stocky aerial roots will break above the Osmunda.
One method of dividing an Ascocenda orchid (not particularly recommended to the amateur, until he has at least gained some experience) is to cut off the top part of the plant below one or two of the big fat roots breaking from the stem.
The top part may then be tied on a raft, and both parts are supposed to grow and flower.
Decomposed material may be removed from between the roots with tweezers and fresh material gently tucked in its place. And where the basket and raft culture has another advantage is that you Ascocenda orchid will be protected against fungal and bacterial diseases that usually attack pot cultured orchids.
General tips for Ascocenda Orchid care
- The Ascocenda orchid will prefer to be placed outside in the warm summer months if it is grown indoors as a houseplant. Ascocenda orchid love bright light, but you need to take care not to burn the leaves if you take them directly from indoor conditions to full sunlight.
- The Ascocenda orchid does not need as much water in the fall and winter, but you need to provide adequate water during the mornings in the summer. This is a necessity if your orchids are grown outside under trees.
- As cut flowers the Ascocenda orchid does not last very long, but left on the stem, you will be rewarded with its love orchid flowers several times a year and those flowers will last long if left on the stem.
- The Ascocenda orchid is a heavy feeder and should be fed a balanced fertilizer often, but not when it is dormant.