Ascocenda – this genus, represented by epiphytes, is directly related to the orchid family. It was obtained by crossing various types of ascocentrum and vanda. At the moment, this genus unites approximately 1500 interspecific hybrids (Grex).
The nature of the growth of such a plant is monopodial. It forms only one vertically located stem. It hosts vaginal, alternate, succulent leaves. In these leaflets, as well as in the root system, the surface of which is covered with a rather thick layer of porous substance – velamen, there is a supply of liquid that the plant absorbs directly from the air. The foliage is very similar in shape to vanda. Long, belt-shaped leaf plates are slightly folded along the central vein. At their tips there are characteristic bifurcations that divide the leaves themselves into rounded lobes of different lengths.
Flowering is observed from autumn to spring. At this time, the flower appears one, and sometimes several multi-flowered axillary inflorescences, which consist of 12-25 flowers of a fairly large size. The flowers of this genus of orchids are distinguished by their rather simple form, which is similar to pansies (with a small bowl), as well as a rich color. The flower itself can be colored in various warm shades from purple and dark red to yellow and orange. The diameter of the flower depends on the hybrid and can be 5–8 centimeters.
Ascocenda orchid care at home
The following rules will help you grow this kind of orchid at home.
There are several ways to grow ascocenda. So, pots, blocks, baskets, glass vases are used for this, and such a flower can also be grown simply in limbo with free roots.
Only young plants, whose root system is still very poorly developed, are suitable for growing in flower pots. For these purposes, special pots made of transparent plastic are excellent. On the walls, as well as in the bottom of the pot, additional holes must be made in order to improve air permeability. And for these purposes, a mesh planter designed for flowers is suitable.
The composition of the substrate for this flower must necessarily include sphagnum, pieces of pine or larch bark, and they must be of different sizes 0.5–5 centimeters. Also, “orchid chips” (can be replaced with foam plastic) and fern roots can be included in the composition of the substrate. You can also add a small amount of charcoal and expanded clay.
Experts recommend filling the pot with the substrate unevenly. So, you need to try to have the largest pieces of bark at the bottom of the pot, and small ones at the top. On top of the substrate, it is necessary to put a not very thick layer of moss, which will reduce the evaporation of moisture and protect the root system from drying out.
Ascocenda should be planted in a basket in the same way as in a pot. To do this, you should choose a basket made of plastic or solid wood, which will help to avoid the rapid decay of the container.
For growing this kind of orchid, experienced flower growers recommend using blocks. As such a block, a piece of deciduous or pine bark of a sufficiently large size is used. On its front surface, you need to fix coconut fiber, fern roots, as well as sphagnum. On top of such a kind of “pillow”, the roots of the plant itself are fixed, and already a thin layer of moss is applied on top of them. This unit should be mounted vertically on the wall surface.
An “epiphytic tree” is made in the same way, however, here a not very long and rather thick snag is used as a block.
It should be noted that a fixed piece of bark or a snag should be very easily and quickly removed from the wall to water the flower.
Increasingly popular among orchids is gaining a method of growing in a tall transparent glass vase. Ascocendum in such a container grows and develops quite normally, but you should be very careful when placing the root system in a vase, as it can be damaged quite easily. It should also be remembered that the green part of the flower must be above the edge of the vase. In order to avoid falling through the flower inside, it should be fixed. To do this, it can be clamped on both sides with chopsticks.
Also, the ascocendum can simply be hung on the wall and its roots can be left hanging freely. This method of cultivation is the simplest and it is usually used in industrial greenhouses.
Such a plant does not require any specific level of illumination. So, it feels quite comfortable both on the window of the northern and southern (requires shading from the midday sun) orientation. But there is one caveat here, namely, the illumination should be at the same level all the time without drops. In the cold season, the plant must be illuminated with fitolamps, while the daylight hours should be at least 12 hours. Lighting is also recommended in the summer, when the weather outside is very cloudy.
If there is too much light, then the leaves will become reddish and wrinkled, and if not enough, then they will acquire a dark green tint.
The temperature regime of this plant is closely related to the level of illumination. The lighter the room, the higher temperatures you need to grow ascocenda. So, the recommended daytime temperature is from 23 to 27 degrees, at night – from 16 to 22 degrees. Moreover, such a temperature regime should be maintained all year round.
In winter, you should be extremely careful not to allow the temperature in the room to be less than 16 degrees. During ventilation, you need to protect the flower from the flow of fresh cold air.
How to water
For watering, it is recommended to use the immersion method. The container is filled with liquid, and then the flower itself or the container with it is carefully lowered into it for half an hour. During this time, the root system should have time to absorb moisture. It should be remembered that the velamen covering the roots should at the same time acquire a green tint instead of a grayish-silver (in a dry state) and swell.
How often a given orchid needs to be watered is directly dependent on the method of cultivation. When growing in a pot in a substrate, attention should be paid to the bark. After it becomes monotonous and looks like dry, it will be necessary to water it. In the basket, you can check how moist the bark is with your hands. Both in the first and in the second case, it is necessary to water only after the substrate becomes completely dry.
The most frequent watering is required for a plant grown with loose roots. In this case, you need to pay attention to the state of the root system. After the surface of the velamen is slightly wrinkled, it is necessary to irrigate. However, this type of cultivation often requires daily watering.
For moistening with a sprayer, as well as for irrigation, you need to take well-settled, soft water, which should be at room temperature. In the event that water from the water supply is additionally processed, it is recommended to filter it before entering the pipes.
Requires high humidity. So, in the daytime it should be maintained at a level of 60 to 80 percent, and at night – from 50 to 60 percent. To increase the humidity of the air, it is recommended to use all available methods. So, you can use household steam generators and humidifiers, systematically moisten the foliage, place an open container of water in the immediate vicinity of the flower, and also pour wet expanded clay into the pan. But it should be borne in mind that it is possible to moisten a plant from a sprayer only if there is good air circulation in the room, because the liquid should evaporate from the leaf axils as soon as possible. With prolonged and frequent stagnation of water in the axils of the leaves, rot can form, and this most often leads to the death of the ascocendum.
Humid and warm air should never stagnate in the room. But it should be remembered that the plant reacts extremely negatively to drafts and wind. Therefore, it must be removed away from the open window, and also protected from air flows coming from the switched on the fan. And placing on the balcony, it must be protected from strong gusts of wind.
It is recommended to feed the plant during watering. To do this, use a specialized fertilizer for orchids, which can be purchased at a flower shop. It is recommended to use only a third of the dose recommended on the package. The higher the concentration of fertilizer, the longer the break between top dressing should be done. As a rule, fertilizers are applied every 2-4 waterings. If desired, it is possible to alternate fertilizing with a root and foliar method, while spraying should use a weak nutrient solution.
Features of flowering stimulation
Despite its comparative unpretentiousness, in order for such an orchid to have flower stalks, a number of conditions will need to be met. So, she definitely needs a difference between daily temperatures, while it should be within 2-3 degrees. In the absence of flowering, this difference is increased to 5-7 degrees. You can also stimulate flowering by reducing or increasing the length of the standard daylight hours (from 12 to 14 hours) by a couple of hours. Also, for this, a reduction in the number of irrigations by 1.5–2 times is used.
Such methods are considered stressful. For the same purposes, specialized chemical stimulants, cytokinins, can be used. However, they should be used with extreme caution, because overfeeding has a detrimental effect on the plant. If this happens, then, as a rule, the lower leaves of the flower will begin to turn yellow and die off.
The most common non-viral diseases are various rots. At the same time, the growth point, the places where the leaves and peduncles are attached to the shoot, the root system and the stem can rot. The appearance of rot can be caused by stagnation of liquid in the substrate, violations of the water regime, stagnation of liquid in the leaf axils after wetting from the sprayer.
If the lesion is not very strong, then you need to remove the places of decay by cutting or cutting them off. And also treat the damaged area with Fundazol or Benlat. If there is a lot of rot, then it is impossible to get rid of it and, as a rule, the flower dies. It is recommended to prevent the formation of rot by observing all the rules for caring for the ascocendum, as well as regularly inspecting the bush in order to timely identify the onset of the development of the disease.
Most often, scale insects, as well as spider mites, can settle on a plant. When pests are found, the plant is given a hot (about 45 degrees) shower. It is also recommended to remove the shield from the surface of the flower with a cotton swab dipped in an alcohol-containing solution. In the event that these measures turned out to be of little effect or the flower is of a rather large size, it is necessary to use insecticidal preparations of the appropriate action.
Can be propagated by seeds and children. So, babies appear on peduncles. It is recommended to separate only a fairly large, viable baby with a developed root system. But in order for a baby to grow from a flower bud, as a rule, it is required to carry out treatment with a special chemical agent. In this regard, it is unlikely that you will be lucky enough to take the Ascocendum baby from someone you know.
Only enthusiasts or specialists can propagate this flower with seeds. How to do this can be found in the specialized literature. But at the same time, it is worth remembering that, as a rule, 2 years pass from the moment of pollination to the jigging of seedlings.