The Ascocentrum family groups about a dozen epiphytic orchids originating from India, Nepal and Taiwan. They look similar to vandas, but the dimensions are much smaller. Each plant produces some elongated leaves, shiny and thick, very dark, with dimensions not exceeding 10-15 cm; at the end of spring it produces an erect stem on which numerous small flowers bloom, of red, yellow or pink or white color; numerous aerial roots often grow at the base of the leaves. These orchids are often hybridized with vandas to obtain the Ascocenda genus, orchids with very showy and colorful flowers, but with decidedly smaller dimensions than vandas, therefore easier to grow in not very large environments.
The ascocentrums are orchids that need very bright places, if you want you can also place them for a few hours in direct sunlight, as long as they are not in the middle of the day, especially summer ones that have very high temperatures.
The more the environment is bright, the more luxuriant the leaves and the abundant flowering; a poorly lit environment hinders flowering and causes dark spots on the leaves. These plants fear the cold, and the winter minimum should not fall below 12-15 ° C, so during the winter season they should therefore be kept indoors or in a temperate greenhouse.
These orchids need abundant and regular watering, especially in the period from March to October, the soil should be kept constantly humid but not too soggy because stagnant water can quickly lead to the onset of root rot; It is also advisable to vaporize the leaves frequently to increase the environmental humidity, using rainwater or demineralised water, so that it is free of limestone. If the Ascocentrum are grown with aerial roots on specific rafts, it is essential to proceed with the vaporization of them constantly.
Every 7-10 days, add specific fertilizer for orchids to the irrigation water.
To arrange the orchids of this type, prepare a compound consisting of a little soil mixed with perlite, sphagnum and chopped barks. Due to the small size these orchids are particularly suitable for being cooked on pieces of bark.
The substrate must be chosen in such a way that it allows a good drainage of the water and, at the same time, retains a good degree of humidity, a determining factor for the health of the orchids.
In spring it is possible to divide the clumps of roots, the individual portions are immediately repotted individually and treated as adult plants, taking care to arrange them in a sheltered but very bright place to ensure the correct development of the plant.
Ascocentrum: Pests and diseases
The cultivation of these plants in poorly ventilated places can cause the presence of rust and cochineal. Cochineal can be eliminated by manual intervention with the help of a cloth with alcohol; otherwise there are special products to be sprayed carefully on the affected plants. Fundamental to the health of the orchids is to cultivate them in a suitable environment and with favorable environmental conditions.