Encyclia cordigera has a lot of color variations in this orchid, and all of them look amazing. It belongs to the Encyclia genus and the Orchidaceae family.
Today we will discuss everything you need to know to grow and cultivate this stunning orchid successfully.
What Is Encyclia Cordigera?
Encyclia cordigera, commonly called the Cocoa orchid, is a bifoliate, epiphytic orchid species endemic to Central and South American countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, French Guiana, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, etc. It is found at a height of approximately 3000 feet.
Encyclia cordigera’s other common names are Large-lipped Encyclia, Encyclia doeringii, Cymbidium cordigerum, Encyclia duboisiana, Epidendrum cordigerum, Epidendrum duboisianum, Epidendrum macrochilum, Epidendrum doeringii, etc. Robert Louis Dressler described it first in 1964.
Size and Growth
Encyclia cordigera is a medium-sized orchid that grows as an epiphyte and occasionally as a lithophyte. You can find it naturally growing as an epiphyte on the host tree trunks and branches. As a lithophyte, it grows on rocks.
Encyclia cordigera can reach a height of 12 to 25 inches. It grows in a cluster of pseudobulbs that are plump, pear-shaped, with their length varying between 1 and 5 inches. They look like onions or eggs and have a nice green color.
Plumb pseudobulbs are a sign of a healthy plant. The number of pseudobulbs is more on a mature plant. More pseudobulbs mean more spikes and more flowers.
Encyclia cordigera is bifoliate, meaning that the plant has exactly two leaflets per leaf. The leaves are oblong, elliptic, obtuse, and leathery. The leaf length lies in the range of 6 to 18 inches.
Encyclia cordigera blooms have a cocoa-rose fragrance which is why we sometimes call it the Cocoa orchid. The flower spikes bearing the blooms come from the center of the pseudobulb and can get decently tall. It can bear multiple flowers on one spike. The diameter of the flowers is 2 to 3 inches.
Apart from the unique shape and color of the flowers, their blooms are fragrant. It smells like chocolate and roses. The fragrance is powerful in the morning and starts to fade sometime after. It transforms into a honey-like fragrance, and by afternoon it completely stops smelling.
The blooms can last for two to three months. There are color variations in Cordigera, ranging from a rosy pink to dark purple to a white-colored lip with hints of pink in between.
These varieties may also differ in their fragrance. In general, the more the sunlight, the stronger the scent.
Encyclia Cordigera Care
Care for Encyclia cordigera is quite similar to the Cattleya orchids and is one of the easiest orchids to grow. Read on to find out the appropriate growing conditions like light, water, fertilizer, temperature, and humidity required to cultivate this plant.
Like Cattleya orchids, Encyclia cordigera needs bright, indirect light to thrive. Place it in a south or east-facing window where it can get filtered sunlight. It can tolerate the early morning and evening sun, but the afternoon sun can burn its leaves. So ensure that you keep your plant in bright light but not direct, harsh sunlight during noon.
Encyclia cordigera gives out a more potent fragrance from its blooms when it is kept in sunlight. But it does not mean that you have to keep it under the hot sun during noon. Provide the brightest light that your plant can tolerate.
Encyclia cordigera likes to dry out a bit in between waterings. It grows pretty well when kept in high moisture. During its active growing period, make sure that you provide abundant water to your orchid, allowing it to dry out only for a little while in between two watering sessions.
Water at least three times a week during summer and less than two times a week during the winter months. Since the plant goes into a resting period during winter, we recommend not disturbing the plant roots and avoid overwatering the plant as it leads to root rot.
Encyclia cordigera needs a well-draining soil mix to grow well. Use a mixture of orchid bark, perlite, or charcoal. Potting media should be such that it helps to retain moisture and, at the same time, keep the air moving around the plant’s roots.
Choose a pot with drainage holes at the bottom and sides. Clay pots are better than plastic pots at absorbing excess moisture from the soil mix.
Encyclia cordigera grows well when mounted on a cork or tree fern. But this method requires a lot more watering and misting than usual. Water the mounted plant at least two times a day to maintain moisture and humidity.
Encyclia cordigera is a thermophilic plant, meaning that it needs warmer temperatures to bloom and grow. It requires an average daytime temperature of 77 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit and an average nighttime temperature of 64 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you live in a cold region that receives frost, move your plant inside because frost can make the plant go into shock, or worse, causing the plant to die.
In an ideal situation, Encyclia cordigera needs a humidity level of 80 to 85 percent humidity during the summer months and 60 to 65 percent humidity during the resting period of winter. But at home, it manages to grow in 60 percent humidity.
Use humidifiers, humidity trays, or group all other plants to maintain proper humidity levels. The pebble tray method is also a cost-effective way of maintaining humidity around the plant. Fill a shallow tray with pebbles and water and place your pot above it. It will help in keeping the humidity levels high, especially in dry regions.
Fertilize Encyclia cordigera every week using one-fourth to one-half of the recommended liquid fertilizer during its active growing period. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer from spring to mid-summer and a phosphorus-rich fertilizer during fall and winter. Phosphorus helps to stimulate more blooms in the next season.
Do not fertilize during winter as the plant goes into the dormancy stage. Excessive fertilization leads to salt accumulation in the soil.
Repotting Encyclia Cordigera
Repot your Encyclia cordigera when it outgrows the existing pot. If you see the roots coming out of the pot’s bottom drainage holes, it is time to repot your plant. Repot your plant when its soil mix begins to decompose, and new root growth appears. It cannot tolerate stale potting media.
The ideal time to repot is during early spring because it gets sufficient time to get acclimatized to its new environment. To repot, use a bigger pot with suitable drainage holes.
By mixing in new orchid bark and perlite, place the plant carefully in the pot. Do not place it in the center; place it towards the corners so that the roots get enough space to spread across the pot.
Sometimes, Encyclia cordigera gets affected by problems like Soft Brown Scale or Coccus hesperidum. This pest is common in orchids. Be alert for scale and keep regularly checking between the pseudobulbs.
Once it is established, it becomes difficult to eradicate this problem entirely. Use neem oil or chemical insecticide to get rid of it. Remove the dried sheaths, for it enables easy spotting of the scale.
Encyclia cordigera is quite popular among orchid collectors. It is one of the most beginner-friendly orchids out there.
Let us look back at everything about this elegant orchid we have discussed so far.
- Encyclia cordigera is a medium-sized, epiphytic, and lithophytic orchid native to Central and South America.
- It has thick and glossy, onion-like pseudobulbs.
- It has cocoa or rose-like fragrant flowers that usually bloom during spring and can last for up to three months.
- For maximum flowering and proper growth, provide your orchid with bright, filtered sunlight during spring and summer.
- Water your plant abundantly during the active growing period and reduce it in the winter months.
- Do not overwater your plant as it may lead to root rot.
- It needs 80 to 85 percent humidity during spring and summer and 60 to 65 percent humidity during winter.
- Use humidifiers and humidity trays to increase the humidity levels.
- It prefers a loose, well-draining, coarse soil mix composed of tree bark and perlite for drainage.
- It is a thermophilic orchid that needs warm temperatures for proper growth.
- Fertilize your orchid once a week with a well-balanced orchid fertilizer throughout the year except during winter.
- Reduce both watering and fertilizing during winter as it goes into resting during winter.
- Repot the plant when the soil mix decomposes and the plant is entirely root-bound.
- Keep an eye on the tightly packed pseudobulbs for pests like a scale; remove the sheaths when they dry out for easy inspection.
The showy spring-blooming Encyclia cordigera looks excellent as a centerpiece in the orchid collection. So what are you waiting for? Go and get yours!
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