AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Dendrobium - Cool-growing species

 

In this group of Dendrobium orchids you will also find the miniature Dendrobium orchids that originate from areas like New Guinea. The specific Dendrobium orchid that comes to mind here is the Dendrobium cuthbertsonii. This Dendrobium orchid thrives in warm climates when conditions are cool. And they do equally well in tropical climates in controlled greenhouse conditions.

 

The flowers in the warm-growing Dendrobium orchid range come in many different shades: Yellow, orange, red, pink, bi-colored, and so much more. These small Dendrobium orchids in maturity only reach a height of about 5 cm (that is 2 inches). They are best cultivated on tree ferns where they can also enjoy the benefits of an occasional cool cloud cover.

 

This particular Dendrobium orchid can be successfully cultivated in small pots, on slabs of osmunda or even rafts of tree ferns. You need to ensure to always give the Dendrobium orchid regular water. You also need to feed it on a regular basis with a weak solution of general orchid fertilizer. Always ensure that the Dendrobium orchid with its little bulbs is kept plump.

Dendrobium - Intermediate-growing species

 

Mentioning intermediate-growing orchids and Dendrobium orchids in one breath can never be complete without mentioning the stunning nobile Dendrobium orchid. The nobile Dendrobium orchid originates from the mountainous areas in Asia, more specific the Himalayas. These orchids are well known for their abundance of flowers in spring after they have been left to dry throughout the cool winter months. What is even stranger is that the old canes and old bulbs on Dendrobium orchids in this group can also produce flowers.

 

During the latter part of spring and throughout the whole of summer the Dendrobium orchid, has a growth spurt that is second to no other orchid. New growth emerges from the base of the plant and matures in no time. It thus does not take a rocket scientist to realize that during this growth spurt, the orchid plant needs constant watering and feeding to ensure that the canes or pseudobulbs are kept fat and succulent. Usually the stems are quite heavy and should be secured and supported.

 

During the fall, when temperatures begin to fall you should apply a high potash-based fertilizer and place the orchid plants in a dry part of your greenhouse if you are cultivating your orchids in a greenhouse. You will notice buds appearing from almost every node along the swollen canes. If you water the nobile Dendrobium orchids at this stage, it will commence its natural growth cycle and the little buds would develop into little plants with very few or even no flowers. Thus if you want the Dendrobium orchid to flower, you should refrain from watering the orchid plant at this stage. Wait until the orchid flowers open. Very important in cultivating nobile Dendrobium orchids is bright light which in turn will maximize orchid flower production.

 

After the orchid flowering period it is important to repot your Dendrobium orchid to ensure that your orchid plant will experience an active growth period. You may even have to remove old canes where necessary and lay them ion damp, washed river sand where, over the summer, the bulbs will develop new keikis that can be removed at the end of the growth season to be planted. Obviously you will then be cultivating orchid plants that will be identical to the parent plants, but what a great way to increase your collection.

Dendrobium - Warm-growing species

 

In this group of Dendrobium orchids you will find the 'antelope' and Phalaenopsis type of orchids. The antelope Dendrobium orchid flowers are erect and have spiraling petals whereas the Phalaenopsis Dendrobium orchid flowers are full and rounded in shape. And although the Phalaenopsis orchid and the Dendrobium orchid in this specific warmer-growing Dendrobium orchid look alike, they are by no means related.

 

The pseudobulds on these Dendrobium orchids are strong and rigid and carries up to six firm succulent leaves on the top of the bulb. The orchid flowers are borne right along the mature canes and does not really require any support like the nobile Dendrobium orchids. It is not uncommon to see a well established warmer-growing Dendrobium orchid that produces orchid flowers from the sides of the pseudobulbs as well as from its mature canes.

 

Since these Dendrobium orchids prefer hot, tropical conditions, it is important that you provide your cultivated orchid plant with the humidity that it would have experienced in its natural habitat. You also need to feed your Dendrobium orchid plants throughout the year so as to support the active growth and flowering of your orchids. It is best to feed them with high nitrogenous fertilizer during spring to aid the growth boost and then follow the feeding up with a general type of fertilizer during summer and a bloom booster in fall/autumn.

 

These Dendrobium orchids should be repotted just after the flowering period which can be throughout the year. The compost mixture that you use for potting your Dendrobium orchid should be free-draining so as to accommodate regular watering without the risk of over-watering which might result in rot. On the other hand, if you cultivate your orchids outside attached to a tree, rainfall will readily soak the orchid plants as well as drain through the medium on which the orchid plant is attached.

 

Light is yet again very important when cultivating Dendrobium orchids, even more so when you are cultivating your Dendrobium orchid in a green- or shade house. When repotting or potting your orchid plants be sure to make use of a very solid pot (It is recommended to make use of a clay pot because of its heavy base) as the Dendrobium orchid has a tendency to become top-heavy. In its favor, this warmer-growing Dendrobium orchid also lends itself to basket culture.