Information on Dendrobiums



DENDROBIUM (den-DRO-bee-um) Species of the genus Dendrobium occur from New Zealand north to Japan and westward through Southeast Asia to India and Ceylon.  The range of climatic conditions under which they grow is enormous.  This has resulted in the development of several different types of Dendrobiums, which have rather different cultural requirements.  Most species may be classified as warm or intermediate types but relatively few require cool conditions.  A further differentiation on vegetative characteristics is commonly used namely hardcane and softcane, which is how they will be discussed in this publication.

Hardcane dendrobiums: These are warm growing Dendrobiums, which need a winter temperature of not less than 12ºC.  A structure with a solid roof of fibreglass or polycarbonate is essential for successful culture outside the tropics.  Leaf drop, bud drop and loss of new growths are symptoms of low temperature damage.  They are usually large plants, which require bright light and good air circulation.  Some are more or less in constant growth while others demand a decided rest during cooler months.

Softcane dendrobiums: Dendrobium nobile and its hybrids are the classical softcane Dendrobiums.  They will tolerate similar conditions to the hardcane Dendrobiums for the growing season but need harsher hardening conditions of little water and no fertilizer during late autumn and winter in order to flower prolifically.  Failure to harden them off will result in side shoots instead of flowers in spring.  Another group of species loosely designated Indian Dendrobiums require rather similar conditions in summer but less harsh winter treatment.

Light: Bright filtered light as provided by (70%) shadecloth is the optimum.

Watering: The frequency of watering is determined by the state of growth of the plant and should be timed to allow quick drying out of the plant in winter weather.  Morning only watering should be practised especially in winter.

Fertilizer: Feed heavily and often while the plant is in active growth.  Reduce the strength and regularity of feeding in autumn as the growths mature.

Air Movement: Good air movement around plants is essential for continued health of Dendrobiums.

Potting: Dendrobiums require an open, free draining medium in which to grow.  Ten millimetre bark, charcoal, gravel etc. is ideal.  Pot size should be restricted to a maximum of 125 – 150 mm except for large hardcane Dendrobiums.

Pests & Diseases: The major pests affecting Dendrobium are dendrobium beetles, cockroaches, aphids, spider mite and scale. Most common diseases are damp off anthracnose/glomerella (see Disease Prevention & Pest Control).


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