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Encyclia cordigera (H. B. and K.) Dressler

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Charles and Margaret Baker

Encyclia cordigera (H. B. and K.) Dressler

AKA: Epidendrum atropurpureum Willdenow, E. longipetalum Godefroy-Lebeuf,
E. macrochilum E. Hagsater, Encyclia atropurpurea (Willdenow) Schlechter. 

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Distributed from southern Mexico, through Central America,
the West Indies, and into Colombia and Venezuela. E. cordigera is common
in the rather dry, scrubby forests of coastal regions from sea level to
2950 ft. (900 m) on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the dividing
mountain range. In Central America, it is more common on the Pacific side.

CLIMATE: Station #78663, San Salvador, El Salvador, Lat. 13.7N, Long.
89.1W, at 2014 ft. (614 m). Record extreme temperatures are 105F (41C) and
45F (7C).

F AVG MAX        90   92   94   93   91   87   89   89   89   87   87   89
F AVG MIN        60   60   62   65   67   66   65   66   66   65   63   61
DIURNAL RANGE    30   32   32   28   24   21   24   23   23   22   24   28
RAIN/INCHES     0.3  0.2  0.4  1.7  7.7 12.9 11.5 11.7 12.1  9.5  1.6  0.4
HUMIDITY/%       63   62   62   65   73   78   75   76   80   77   68   66
BLOOM SEASON      *   **   **  ***  ***  ***   **    *    *    *    *
DAYS CLR @ 6AM   30   19   19   11    4    4    4    6    1    4   17   23
DAYS CLR @ 12PM  29   20   19   16    3    2    3    6    1    7   18   22
DAYS CLR @ 6PM   26   17   21   15    2    1    1    0    0    6   13   16
RAIN/MM           8    5   10   43  196  328  292  297  307  241   41   10
C AVG MAX      32.2 33.3 34.4 33.9 32.8 30.6 31.7 31.7 31.7 30.6 30.6 31.7
C AVG MIN      15.6 15.6 16.7 18.3 19.4 18.9 18.3 18.9 18.9 18.3 17.2 16.1
DIURNAL RANGE  16.6 17.7 17.7 15.6 13.4 11.7 13.4 12.8 12.8 12.3 13.4 15.6

Cultural Recommendations:  

LIGHT: 2500-3500 fc.

TEMPERATURES: Summer days average 87-89F (31-32C), and nights average
65-66F (18-19C), with a diurnal range of 21-24F (12-13C). Spring is the
warmest season, when days average 91-94F (33-34C), and nights average
62-67F (17-19C), with a diurnal range of 24-32F (13-18C). While these
temperatures are common over much of the range, values are somewhat cooler
in Caracas, Venezuela where E. cordigera was found in abundance before the
habitat was covered with concrete and asphalt. In Caracas, days average
78-80F (26-27C), nights average 61-62F (16-17C), with a diurnal range of
16-18F (9-10C).

HUMIDITY: Near 80% during the growing season, dropping to 60-65% in winter
and spring.

WATER: Rainfall is moderate to heavy during the growing season. Cultivated
plants should be allowed to dry slightly between waterings. 

FERTILIZER: 1/4-1/2 recommended strength, applied weekly. A high nitrogen
fertilizer is beneficial from spring to midsummer, while a fertilizer high
in phosphates should be used in late summer and autumn. High phosphates
promote better blooming the next season and encourage new growths to
harden before winter. In order to prevent salt buildup, the medium should
be leached every few weeks during periods of heavier fertilizer
applications. This is especially important in areas with heavily
mineralized water. Leaching is performed by watering the plant normally to
dissolve any accumulated salts, and then an hour or so later flushing the
media with water equal to about twice the volume of the pot.

REST PERIOD: Throughout much of the habitat, winter days average 89-92F
(32-33C), and nights average 60-62F (16-17C), with a diurnal range of
28-32F (16-18C). Near Caracas, however, days average 75-78F (24-26C), and
nights average 56-58F (13-14C), with a diurnal range of 19-21F (11-12C).
For 4-6 months in winter, rainfall averages less than 1 in. (25 mm), but
moisture is available from heavy dew. In cultivation, water should be
reduced during the winter but not eliminated. In most growing areas,
plants need an occasional early morning misting, with a light watering
once every few weeks. Water is most beneficial during bright, sunny
weather. If possible, light levels may be increased in winter to reflect
the greater number of clear winter days in the habitat. Fertilizer should
be reduced or eliminated until spring.

GROWING MEDIA: Plants may be mounted on cork or tree-fern slabs if high
humidity can be maintained, and if water can be applied at least once
daily during the summer. If potted, an open, fast draining medium such as
cork nuggets or medium to large fir-bark is recommended. Repotting is best
done as new root growth begins or as soon after flowering as possible.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: As indicated by the varying conditions found in
nature, E. cordigera adapts to either intermediate or warm growing
conditions. It tolerates hot daytime temperatures if humidity is high and
air movement is strong. Most growers consider this species easy to grow
and flower. 

Plant and Flower Information:

PLANT SIZE AND TYPE: A moderate to large sympodial epiphyte 12-24 in.
(30-60 cm) tall.

PSEUDOBULBS: 1-4 in. (3-11 cm) tall. Pseudobulbs are erect, clustered on a
short connecting rhizome, and conical to pear-shaped.

LEAVES: Usually 2 per growth. The leaves, which arise from the top of the
pseudobulb, are strap shaped, leathery, and 6-18 in. (15-47 cm) tall.

INFLORESCENCE: 1 per growth. The spike arises from between the leaves at
the top of the pseudobulb. It is 6-30 in. (15-76 cm) long, erect to
arching, and usually simple, but may occasionally branch.

FLOWERS: 3-15 per inflorescence. Blossoms are 2-3 in. (5-8 cm) across,
long lasting, and all open at about the same time. They are very fragrant
when in direct sunlight. However, the fragrance rapidly disappears if the
flowers are shaded, even by a passing cloud. Sepals and petals are green,
heavily overlaid with brown or purplish brown. The lip may be white or
magenta. Plants from northern South America and Costa Rica usually produce
flowers with white lips which are marked with a small magenta spot or
streak in the center of the mid-lobe, while flowers on plants from Panama
and Mexico normally have lips that are entirely flushed with magenta. 

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: The chromosome count is 2n = 40, 80, 90. Seed capsules
may take as long as 13 months before opening. 


Austin, B. 1988. Psychilis atropurpurea-Psychilis bifida; Let's end the
confusion. Orchid Digest, Vol. 52, No. 4, Oct.-Nov.-Dec., 1988.

Bechtel, H., P. Cribb, and E. Launert. 1980. Manual of cultivated orchid
species. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Dressler, R. L. and G. E. Pollard. [1974] 1976. The genus  Encyclia in
Mexico. Asociación Mexicana DE Orquideología, A. C., Apartado Postal
53-123, México 17, D. F. 

Gann, B. and J. Byrne, Brassavola nodosa (L.) Ldl. and Encyclia cordigera
(HBK.) Dressler in the Colombian Sierra Nevada: Some cultural notes on two
long-time favorites. Orchid Digest, Vol 47, No. 3, May-June 1983.

Hamilton, R. M. 1988. When does it flower?  2nd ed. Robert M. Hamilton,
9211 Beckwith Road, Richmond, B. C., Canada V6X 1V7.

Rentoul, J. N. [1982] 1985. Growing orchids. Book two. Cattleyas and other
epiphytes. Timber Press, Portland, Or.

Veitch, James, and Sons. [1887-1894] 1963, 1981. Manual of orchidaceous
plants. Vols. I-II. James Veitch and Sons, Royal Exotic Nursery,  Chelsea,
London. Reprint, Vol. 1, A. Asher and Co., Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
reprint, Vol. II, Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, India.

Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. Baker
Sheet version 3043311

Please remember that this sheet is for your use only, and though it was
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This culture sheet was provided by Charles and Margaret Baker.
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