Houseplant Spotlight: Dendrobium Orchids
A showy orchid variety with breath-taking blooms that last for months, dendrobiums are a popular choice for first-time and life-long orchid growers alike.
With over 1,500 types of Dendrobium orchids to choose from, there is sure to be one that catches your fancy. The variety in appearance, size, and bloom color is quite astounding. Breathtaking, really.
There are two main groups of Dendrobiums: hard-caned and soft-caned. Hard-caned varieties, also referred to as spray orchids, are evergreen and grow spikes at the top of the cane that sprout exquisite flower sprays. Soft-caned varieties are deciduous and the flowers bloom from individual stems along with the cane.
Lots of light is fantastic, just not direct light. A lightly shaded window is ideal. South-facing windows are great while east and west-facing windows are good if there is enough light throughout the day. Direct light will cause leaf-burn so avoid placing your orchid where it will receive any.
The best growing temperature for Dendrobiums is between 65-75F in the day and between 55-60F at night. The ideal humidity level is between 50-60%.
Soft-caned and hard-caned dendrobiums generally need watering once a week. If the soil is almost dry, it needs to be watered. During early fall, reducing the amount of water will encourage bud growth. During winter, they only need water when the pseudobulbs begin to shrivel.
The exact watering schedule will depend entirely on the type of dendrobium, the type of potting soil, and how big the pot is. Once or twice a week is the average.
Best practice for watering is to do it in the morning so the leaves have time to dry before nightfall. Do not use distilled or salt-softened water. Place the plant in a sink and run the water over the soil for a minute. Let the plant drain completely before returning it to its location. Never allow it to sit in a pool of water as that will cause the roots to rot.
Fertilizer can be added weekly to improve the health and growth of your dendrobium. Use a balanced orchid fertilizer (20-20-20) prepared at 1/4 strength. Run water through the soil once a month for several minutes to flush out any accumulated salts.
The potting mix that retains water is best. Medium-grade fir bark mixed with peat and perlite is a common combination.
The many species in this genus originate in many locals, including India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In the wild, these orchids rarely set their roots in the soil, instead preferring to stretch out over rocks or grow around tree branches.
Repotting and Reblooming
Dendrobiums prefer to be in a smaller pot. The plant should be significantly taller than the width of the pot. If the pot is too large, the orchid will grow slowly and be sluggish to flower. Repot every two-three years. A tell-tale sign that the orchids need replanting is when the canes start to overgrow the pot.
Repot orchids only after they have bloomed. Soft-caned dendrobiums can be divided if they have a minimum of 8 canes. Hard-caned dendrobiums can be divided as long as each division has a minimum of 3 canes. Cut the root ball along the bottom to stimulate growth and trim any damaged roots.
There is a lot to think about when considering a dendrobium orchid as a houseplant. One thing is for sure, though, you won't be bored. The colors, sizes, and bloom varieties are what make growing orchids so alluring and the dendrobium does not disappoint.