Dendrobium (DEN-droh-bee-uh m)
Known to be the largest genus of orchids, the Dendrobium family comprises of more than a thousand species. Dendrobiums originated from diverse habitats, including the South, East and Southeast regions of Asia including China, Japan, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and many islands in the Pacific. After being discovered in 1799 by Olof Swartz the name was formed by coming the Greek words ‘dendron’ and ‘bios’ which translates into ‘life in a tree’. This indicates that the Dendrobium like some of the other family members can grow on trees and rocks.
To many of its admirers the Dendrobium is only second to the Phalaenopsis in popularity. The Dendrobium orchids peak during the autumn months, but they are evergreen and their beauty can be enjoyed throughout the year.
There are two types of Dendrobiums, the Compactum and the Phalaenopsis hybrids. The Compactum varieties often have multiple canes, and therefore also several branches with smaller flowers, sized between 1 and 7 centimetres. The Phalaenopsis hybrids have one or two branches with larger flowers that can reach a size of up to 7 centimetres. The plants all have at least three or four canes, with four to eight leaves on each cane. The Compactum species comes in white, blue and pink and the Phalaenopsis hybrids come in white, pink, purple, blue, red, yellow, green, brown and cream. This orchid specie is capable of blooming up to three times a year with flowers lasting up to six weeks.
The Dendrobium species is either epiphytic indicating that they can grow on other plants, without being parasitic, or occasionally lithophytic indicating that they can grow on rocks and feed of their own dead tissue as well as rain water and decaying plants. They have adapted to a wide variety of habitats, from the high altitudes in the Himalayan Mountains to lowland tropical forests; even to the dry climate of the Australian desert.
This genus of sympodial orchids develop pseudobulbs that ranges from under a centimetre to several metres long, similar to canes of which a few grow into long reed-like stems. Leaf bases form sheaths that completely envelope the stem. In the section the sheaths and undersides of leaves are covered with fine short black hairs whereas other species within the same family are covered with fine white hairs.
Dendrobiums are one of the orchids that are more light-tolerant – they can enjoy full morning sun followed by shade in the afternoon. Like with most orchid families, the temperature should be kept consist if possible, especially when it is starting to produce flowers. This orchid family should be watered once a week, keeping in mind that the orchid’s potting medium should be allowed to almost completely dry before watering again.
How to Grow (South Africa)
Water the plants when the potting media is nearly dry out. Dendrobiums consume lots of water and fertilizer in summer, reduce water in autumn and give very little water in winter.
Indoor with ventilation or outdoor.
Idea temperature is 25℃ to 30℃, keep temperature higher than 10 in winter, lower than 5℃ could kill the plant.
The most ideal humidity is between 55% to 65%, they have strong bulbs to store water, can tolerate dryness.
Mixture of Spagnum Moss and bark chips work well, other mixtures can be used.
Spring Dendrobiums bloom in spring, do not fertilize and give very little water before bloom, otherwise the buds turn into new plantlet instead of flowers. Autumn Dendrobiums bloom in autumn, grows in summer and become dormant in winter. If there are many bulbs, they can be divided into several pots, keep 3 to 5 bulbs as a group for each pot.