Epidendrum radicans (Five-star Reed Stem Orchid) - This evergreen orchid holds leafy stems growing up to 30 inches tall, producing balls of 30 or more brilliantly colored 1-inch red and orange flowers on 18 inch terminal spikes.
Strong, sturdy growth comes when plants are placed in bright light, even full sun along the coast. It benefits from fertilizer, and thrives when grown in a rich, fast-draining humus mix. It will tolerate temperatures down to 25-30° F for brief periods.
This species is a popular plant in coastal California gardens with good year round flower production on stout flower spikes. In time plants develop keikis (Hawaiian term for "babies"), which are new vegetative growths produced on old stems and flower spikes. Once these keikis develop their own 2- to 4-inch-long roots, they can easily be detached from the stem and planted individually in pots and grow readily in almost any setting, whether in a pot, mounted on a cork slab, or in raised or otherwise well drained flowerbeds.
Epidendrum radicans is native to Mexico, Central America and Colombia and it is a common roadside weed at middle elevations throughout Central America. The name for the genus is from the Greek words 'epi' meaning "on", "wearing" or "on top of" and 'dendron' meaning "tree" in reference to the epiphytic nature of some species. The genus was first established by Linnaeus in 1754 to cover all epiphytic orchids known at the time yet this particular species is just as often found growing rooted in the ground. The specific epithet means "having rooting stems". Other common names include Fire star orchid, Reed-stem Epidendrum, Ground-rooting Epidendrum, Rainbow Orchid and Crucifix Orchid.
Information about Epidendrum radicans displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.