Epidendrum nocturnum, or the night fragrant epidendrum, is native to Florida, West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.
It belongs to the Epidendrum genus and the Orchidaceae family.
What Is Epidendrum Nocturnum?
Epidendrum nocturnum is an epiphytic orchid that grows on trees and rocks in the swamps of southern Florida.
Some of Epidendrum nocturnum’s common names are night fragrant epidendrum, Epidendrum carolinianum, Epidendrum carpophorum, Auliza Nocturna, Epidendrum leucarachne, Nychosma Nocturna, and many more. Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin described it first in 1760.
It is interesting to note that the night scented epidendrum is endangered in Florida.
– Size and Growth
The night fragrant epidendrum is an epiphytic orchid, but it sometimes grows as a ground plant as well. It is a large-sized orchid and can reach a height of up to 40 inches. It has erect, reed-like stems of about 20 inches in length. The stems require support sometimes when they grow large.
Epidendrum nocturnum produces 4 to 10 dark green leaves. The leaves are elliptic, leathery, and oblong and grow alternately on the stem. Their length varies from 2 to 6 inches, and their width lies in the range of 0.2 and 3 inches.
Epidendrum nocturnum has beautiful, night-fragrant, long, slender, yellow-colored flowers. Its blooms are quite similar to the Epidendrum parkinsonianum. The flowers have three lobes and are about an inch long. The plant produces one or more racemes with up to five flowers on each raceme. A raceme is a long array of flowers that grow directly from the main axis. The blooms are fragrant at night but often do not open.
The blooms open continuously for several months on pseudobulbs. The diameter of the flowers is in the range of 3 to 5 inches. The outer petals are greenish-brownish, and the inner petals are white when they open but change to yellow quickly.
Epidendrum nocturnum is an autogamous plant, which means that it is capable of self-pollination and does not need an insect for reproduction. The flowering period is generally from summer to fall, but they can bloom any time of the year.
Proper Epidendrum Nocturnum Care: Its Growth Requirements
Just follow the care tips we have listed below.
– Light Requirements
Epidendrum nocturnum needs bright, indirect light to thrive. Provide filtered but bright light to the plant for proper growth. Do not place the plant in direct sunlight, especially during noon. This is because harsh sunlight can cause leaf burns. However, it can handle full sun during winter.
Once you have found the appropriate spot for your plant, do not move it frequently. It does not like to be moved too often. Moving the plant too often can affect its health negatively.
– Water Requirements
Epidendrum nocturnum needs frequent watering during active growth periods. But please take note that the water should not stand for too long. Otherwise, it will lead to root rot. You have to increase watering frequency when the plant is mounted or suspended using sphagnum moss. However, reduce the watering sessions in winter.
Watering one or two times a week works well during summer and once in two weeks during winter. This is a general rule which will change according to the prevailing conditions in your home. For example, if your epidendrum is mounted on cork with sphagnum water, it may require watering twice a day, especially during summer and spring. But if the epidendrum is in an orchid mix, watering every second day should be fine.
– Soil Mix
The night scented epidendrum grows the best in shallow pots or containers or on tree barks. They need a well-draining growing medium that retains moisture along with ventilation. Use fine fir bark if you are planting your orchid in pots. If you are planning to mount your Epidendrum on a cork or bark, use sphagnum moss to wrap the plant roots.
Some people also use coconut husks to grow Epidendrums.
In usual circumstances, use an epiphytic orchid potting mix to grow the orchids in containers or pots. They grow well in low-nutrient mediums, which is why bark mix works great for their growth. Bark also allows the excess water to drain and keeps the airflow normal around the roots.
Epidendrum nocturnum is a hot to cool growing orchid that grows well in the average day temperature of 77 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit and an average nighttime temperature of 60 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit. They prefer warm interiors but can tolerate temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It adapts well to extreme conditions.
Overall, it can comfortably withstand temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In frost-like conditions outside, move the plant inside to a warmer spot.
Epidendrum nocturnum is an orchid that loves humidity. It needs 85 to 90 percent humidity throughout the year. It also requires some air movement around the roots. If you keep the humidity level high without any ventilation, the plant will die because of root rot and fungal infections. You can place a small fan indoors around the plants to keep the air moving.
In drier regions, keep the humidity level high by misting the plant regularly. Use a humidifier around the plants to keep the humidity level high, especially during summer. Alternatively, you can use the pebble tray method to maintain high humidity levels.
During the active growth period, fertilize your Epidendrum nocturnum every week or two using a liquid orchid fertilizer. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer from spring to mid-summer and a phosphorus-rich fertilizer from late summer to autumn. Some people use 30-10-10 fertilizer during the growing period.
Reduce the fertilizing frequency to once a month during fall. Additionally, avoid fertilizing during winter as the plant goes dormant during the colder season.
– Repotting Epidendrum Nocturnum
Repot your Epidendrum nocturnum when it is root-bound or when the bark mix begins to decompose. The ideal time to repot is during the spring months, as during spring, new roots develop. New roots can adjust better to their new environment when repotted in spring.
Generally, epidendrums are repotted every two to three years, depending on their size. This is to keep the soil medium fresh. Orchids love to be root-bound, so repotting is not extremely important. But, ensure that it does not stay root-bound for too long because it may decline the plant’s health.
To repot, take your plant out of the old container. After putting the orchid mix in the larger pot, press down the plant’s roots firmly. Be gentle because the roots break when too much pressure is applied. Leave the newly repotted plant in part shade and wait for the plant to adjust to new conditions.
Epidendrums are propagated by tissue culture. Unfortunately, this is difficult to do at home. Most people get hybrid versions of their orchids when they try cultivating at home.
Epidendrum nocturnum is a splendid orchid that must be a part of every night lover’s garden. We have discussed the steps on how to grow and care for this pretty orchid.
Let us quickly sum up all that we have learned so far:
- Epidendrum nocturnum is an epiphytic orchid commonly found in Florida and other parts of America
- It needs part shade to grow well; avoid direct sunlight as it may cause leaf burns
- Water frequently during the active growth period and reduce watering frequencies in winter
- Use fir bark to grow your orchid in pots, add perlite or charcoal for drainage
- The plant prefers daytime temperatures between 77 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures between 60 and 63 degrees Fahrenheit
- Use sphagnum moss for mounting the orchid on a cork or tree fern
- It is a humidity loving plant that prefers an 85 to 90 percent humidity level
- Maintain air movement around the roots alongside high humidity, as the plant is prone to root rot without aeration
- Fertilize your orchid every week or two using a liquid orchid fertilizer
- Repot your plant during spring when new roots start to develop, or the potting mix begins to decompose
- It can be propagated by tissue culture, which is difficult at home.
We hope our guide has helped you to know how exactly to care for the night fragrant orchid. The night scented epidendrum is an amazing plant if you want to fill your home garden with some sweet fragrance. So head over to your nearest garden center and grab one for yourself.
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