Dendrobiums are one of the largest genera and also most interesting group of orchids. They are relatively easy to grow, and produce very attractive flowers. Dendrobiums occur widely in South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea with India being one of the most important natural homes. North East India and Western Ghats house numerous Dendrobium species.
Plant: Dendrobiums are sympodial in growth, with horizontal growing stems. One or more new upright growths are produced every year. Some of the species grow erect and some have pendulous long flowing canes.
Some of the species are evergreen and some are deciduous and shed their leaves on maturity. Flowers are borne on the inflorescence and some are small and numerous in number and many produce large sized flowers. Cultural requirements vary to an extent considering the diverse distribution of the Dendrobiums.
Light: Plants require a good and strong light of about 3000-4500 foot candle. Plants can be exposed to morning sun and should be sheltered from the afternoon direct sun.
Temperature: Dendrobiums prefer warmth and intermediate temperature conditions. A maximum temperature of 26-28° C and minimum of 19-20° C is ideal , but often they can withstand extremes of 35° C. Flowering is induced by the variations in day and night
Watering and Humidity: Provide adequate amount of water and keep the plants moist throughout the growing period. During winter, water it occasionally and resume copious watering after new growth occurs.
Many of the North East Indian species need ‘resting period’ during winter months. During which there should be occasional watering to prevent the pseudobulbs from shrinking. During the rest period no nutrition is given. Overwatering or continued watering during the rest periods will result in production of keikis and no flowers.
Nutrition: Dendrobiums respond well to half the recommended dose of fertilizer (0.5 — 1.0 gram per litre of water) such as 19-19-19 every week throughout the growing period. During winter, stop fertilizing and resume fertilization after new growth occurs.
Potting and Media: Dendrobiums can be potted with regular orchid potting materials such as brickbats, charcoal and Coconut Husk Chips. They prefer smaller pots and do well when under potted. Many pendulous long flowering canes Dendrobiums prefer to be mounted on slab of wood with a wad of moss.
Pests & Diseases: Several pests such as aphids, thrips and slugs infest on the plant. Maintaining hygienic conditions and timely use of pesticides will minimize the damage. Common hybrid dendrobium like Emma White, and Pink Lady are easy growing plants for beginners.