A small genus Ascocentrum belongs to the orchid family. According to information from various sources, it combines 6–13 species represented by low-growing lithophytes and epiphytes. In nature, they can be found in the Philippines, as well as in Asia.
Such a plant is characterized by a monopodial growth pattern. This means that it has only 1 stem that does not branch, and its gradual growth continues until the death of the flower itself. A fairly thick aerial root system on its surface has a layer of velamen, which has a porous structure and is painted white and silver. Two-row, vaginal, alternate leaflets are painted greenish-red and have an arcuate-curved shape. On the run, they are placed quite densely. Hard and thick leaves have a belt-like shape, and at the tip they have uneven teeth in the amount of 1 to 3 pieces. The width of the leaves is 2 centimeters, and their length is 30 centimeters.
Flowering is observed from mid-spring to early autumn. Short peduncles grow from the lower leaf axils, which can reach a height of 8 to 20 centimeters. They carry rather dense multi-flowered inflorescences with a cylindrical shape. Zygomorphic flowers are quite small, their diameter is only 1.5–2.5 centimeters. 3 sepals (sepals) are obovate or oval in shape. They are located in relation to each other at an angle equal to 120 degrees.
The color and shape of the sepals and petals are almost identical. 2 oppositely lying petals (petals) have the same angle with respect to each other as the sepals (120 degrees), as a result of which the corolla itself has a relatively regular shape. However, actinomorphism was prevented by a three-lobed lip (3rd petal), which is not very large and is quite narrow. The lip protrudes forward and has 2 lateral, vertically located processes. The lip in the back ends with an elongated hollow outgrowth (spur) and it is in it that the secreted nectar accumulates. This feature of the plant influenced the formation of its name, for example, in Greek “ascos” means “bag”, and “kentron” – “spur”.
As a rule, the species of this orchid are very similar to each other, and they differ only in the size and color of the flower:
Ascocentrum orchid care at home
This genus of orchids is considered one of the most demanding in care, and it needs increased attention. Such a plant is suitable for growing only by experienced flower growers. But at the moment, thanks to breeders, a large number of hybrid forms have come into being, which both experienced and novice orchidists can afford to grow.
Pretty photophilous, needs bright enough (approximately 3500 lux), but at the same time necessarily diffused lighting. It is not recommended to expose it to direct sunlight, but the plant can be accustomed to them, but this should be done gradually. For placement, it is recommended to prefer windows of western and eastern orientation.
In the autumn-winter period, the plant needs additional lighting. It is worth remembering that daylight hours throughout the year should be approximately equal to 10 to 12 hours.
All year round the temperature regime should be the same. At the same time, this orchid simply needs a difference in daily temperatures. The difference in daily temperatures should be at least 10 degrees. So, it is best if during the day the temperature is from 24 to 31 degrees, and at night – from 10 to 20 degrees.
In the warm season, experts do not advise transferring ascocentrum to fresh air. The fact is that a sharp change in habitat will cause severe stress to the plant and lead to its illness.
As a rule, this genus of orchids is grown either in special hanging baskets or on blocks, without the use of a substrate. The fact is that aerial roots need oxygen in large quantities and light. The block is often a large piece of pine bark. The root system of the flower is securely fixed on its surface, while all the roots must first be wrapped with a not very thick layer of coconut fiber or sphagnum, which will help to avoid too rapid evaporation of moisture. Young plants, as well as dwarf forms, can be grown in a pot of transparent material, while filling it with pieces of pine bark, which not only support the plant so that it does not fall, but also help reduce the rate of drying of the roots.
How to water
This plant does not have a dormant period, and therefore it needs to be watered equally all year round. Watering is recommended to be carried out by immersion. To do this, water is poured into the basin and the block is lowered there for a while, if possible, the entire plant itself can be immersed. After 15–20 minutes, the orchid must be pulled out of the water and placed in its usual place. Thus, experts advise watering the flower once a day.
This plant needs high humidity. So, it should be at least 70 percent (but better from 80 to 90 percent). To increase the humidity in an apartment, it is imperative to use household humidifiers and steam generators.
Feed the plant 1 time in 4 weeks. To do this, use special fertilizers for orchids, and take ½ of the dose recommended on the package. Dissolve the fertilizer in water for irrigation. And it is also recommended to carry out foliar top dressing once a month. To do this, the leaves need to be sprayed with a weak solution of the nutrient mixture.
If the plant is properly cared for, then pests and diseases are not afraid of it. However, as a result of a violation of the temperature regime, a lack or excess of light, improper watering, insufficient humidity, the complete absence of temperature changes during the day, this kind of orchid can slow down its development or even die.