Dendrobiums

One huge family of orchids that is often overlooked by home orchid growers is the Dendrobium family. This family is extremely diverse and very widespread in Asia and while some might not be suitable for your collection, other definitely are.
I will describe a few that I have enjoyed through the years. Following are some Dendrobiums that I enjoy most.

Dendrobium crumenatum – Also known as the “pigeon orchid”, Den. crumenatum has several desirable traits:

  • Easy to grow
  • Enjoys our hot summers
  • Blooms several times each year
  • Has a wonderful scent (most other Dendrobiums do not)
Mature Den. crumenatum with hundreds of flowers. I could smell them long before I entered the greenhouse.

Dendrobium thyrsiflorum and Dendrobium farmeri – Native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas and south and east into Malaysia, these plants put on a huge display with colorful pendentive flower spikes nearly as large as the plant itself. Easy to grow but needs less water and food during their winter resting period.

  • Easy culture
  • Compact size
  • Very floriferous
  • Cut back water and food during winter resting period
Dendrobium thyrsoflorum with huge pendulous spikes of colorful two-tone flowers on medium-size plants
Dendrobium thyrsoflorum with huge pendulous spikes of colorful two-tone flowers on medium-size plants

Antelope type Dendrobiums – The many species in this group range in size from compact to more than 10 feet in height and most have twisted “antelope horn” petals. I find these fascinating because of the shape, but for windowsill growing you might avoid some of the taller species.

den_samaraixstrebloceras

Dendrobium strebloceras x Dendrobium Samarai produces many long spikes of colorful twisted antelope type flowers on 4’ high canes.
Dendrobium strebloceras x Dendrobium Samarai produces many long spikes of colorful twisted antelope type flowers on 4’ high canes.
Dendrobium antennatum can flower continuously throughout the year, each flower last several weeks and new flower spikes emerge continuously.
Dendrobium antennatum can flower continuously throughout the year, each flower last several weeks and new flower spikes emerge continuously.

Den phal type Dendrobium hybrids (aka Thai Dendrobiums) – People are often confused by the name but no, these are not related to Phalaenopsis, but are generally hybridized using Dendrobium Phalaenopsis and other compatible Dendrobiums to create a wide variety of colors, sizes, and shapes.

Dendrobium Hawaiian Punch produces long stems of long-lasting flowers twice a year.
Dendrobium Hawaiian Punch produces long stems of long-lasting flowers twice a year.

Dendrobium primulinum and Dendrobium anosmum (Honohono orchid) – These deciduous cane type orchids send new growths straight up in the spring after flowering but as the canes grow they get to be too heavy, bend over, and become pendulous as they mature. In early spring the leaves dry up and fall off and flower spikes emerge from each unbloomed leaf node.

    • Native to Southeast Asia
    • Require no water or food beginning in the fall and until they begin to flower in the spring
    • Water and feed heavily during the growing season
    • Keikis can be removed once they have leaves and a good root system
New Den anosmum cane becoming too heavy to support itself.
New Den anosmum cane becoming too heavy to support itself.
New Den. primulinum canes.
New Den. primulinum canes.
Den. primulinum keiki with good root system and ready to be removed.
Den. primulinum keiki with good root system and ready to be removed.

We do have many of the above well-rooted in pots and ready for your growing area!

Author: Bob

Bob has been growing orchids since 1985 and commercially since 1989. He has had several orchid articles published in the AOS Bulletin, AOS Culture Guide, and in Orchids Magazine. He currently resides in Chapel Hill, NC and runs Carrboro Tropicals, Chapel Hill's only provider of locally-grown orchid plants.

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