Epidendrum Plastic Doll is a striking primary hybrid between E. pseudepidendrum and E. ilense. A single glance is enough to tell you that E. pseudepidendrum is the dominant parent here; in fact, the same is true even more generations down the line. All you can really see of E. ilense in this hybrid is a delicate fringing on the lip. Both parents are quite large-growing species, and I expect the hybrid to reach at least three feet tall. My plant has a way to go yet, though it isn’t far from becoming unwieldy because its height makes it top-heavy. Really, it would be better in a clay pot.
I really had this hybrid down as a ‘sulker’ until quite recently, meaning that although it grew and occasionally flowered when it completed a cane, I didn’t think it was as vigorous as it ought to have been, plus it seemed a magnet for red spider mite, so foliage always looked untidy and was shed earlier. It turns out that all it really needed was re-potting and as soon as I gave it a larger pot and fresh growing medium, it put on a spurt both of top growth and of roots, so I assume it is just a little sensitive of potting media going stale. Also, some pots are more appropriate for growing orchids than others, and it might simply be that the pot I now use allows more air to the roots. As I mentioned earlier, it might be better in a clay pot, but I don’t want to do that because I like using clear pots that allow me to monitor the roots.
Flowers are produced from the top of newly completed canes on a thin, drooping terminal inflorescence that is capable of re-flowering several times. This characteristic not only extends the flowering season, but also means that every time the plant produces a new cane it can produce even more flowers, since even old flower spikes are capable of re-blooming. My plant is now blooming on canes that are three years old, two years old and one year old. This characteristic has seemingly been inherited from both parents. I still wouldn’t call it a heavy bloomer, but the flowers are so striking that it is well worth growing.
You may notice on the photo below a neon-pink colour to the plant and flowers. This is in fact nothing to do with the plant at all. I have invested in an LED lighting unit and the combined light of all the variously coloured LED bulbs gives a purplish-pink glow. Directly beneath it, the foliage looks black (meaning that most of the light is being absorbed and not reflected). So far, the results have been good. Plants are growing well, flowering is good and there is no sign of stretching or blanching of foliage. It is my intention to install more of these units as my existing fluorescent bulbs give out.