Dendrobium Orchid Care: The BasicsThere are over 1,000 types of Dendrobium orchids and hybrids. They vary in size, bloom color, appearance, and growing requirements. For this reason, it is important that you get detailed care information for your certain type of Dendrobium because the care can greatly vary depending on the type you have.
Dendrobiums are separated into two main groups: hard-caned and soft-caned.
Hard-caned Dendrobiums have tall pseudobulbs that are very thin and their leaves are generally a little darker in color than the soft-caned. Hard-caned Dens are evergreen and often keep their leaves for many years before they drop them. Hard-caned Dens grow spikes from the top of the cane and produce gorgeous flower sprays.
Soft-caned Dendrobiums have leafy pseudobulbs that are long and slim. Their leaves are generally a little lighter in color than the hard-caned Dens. They grow leaves along the length of the cane and the blooms sprout from the individual stems that are along the cane itself. Soft-caned dendrobiums are deciduous and drop their leaves
when the weather gets cold.
Because the care for each type of Dendrobium can vary so much we have chosen two types to give you detailed care on. The Dendrobium Nobile (which are soft-caned) and Dendrobium Phalaenopsis, also sometimes referred to as Dendrobium Bigibbum (which are hard-caned).
DENDROBIUM NOBILE (Den-Nobile)
Dendrobium Nobile-Water Requirements
A Dendrobium Nobile orchid should be watered in the morning using lukewarm water. Watering frequency – as covered in this article about watering orchids – can be determined by a few different things. The watering schedule for a Den-Nobile greatly depends on the season and its growth cycle. When the plant is actively growing, you should water once a week. In the early fall, you should reduce your watering schedule to help encourage bud growth. In the winter you should only water when you see that the pseudobulbs are beginning to shrivel because this is an indicator that you are not giving the plant enough water.
Dendrobium Nobile-Light Requirements
Den-Nobile orchids, along with it’s hybrids, grow best with high light intensity. The ideal place for a Den-Nobile is a windowsill with southern light exposure. Remember to not let the orchid receive direct sunlight because this could cause the orchid to get sunburned leaves.
Dendrobium Nobile-Temperature Requirements
Dendrobium Nobile orchids are cooler growers than the Den-Phals and they require temperatures that are a little lower. While the Den-Nobile orchid is in bloom it does best with nighttime temperatures of 40°F to 50°F (4.4°C to 10°C). Temperatures should not rise above 90°F (32.2°C) or fall below 37°F to 39°F (2.8°C to 3.9°C).
Dendrobium Nobile-Humidity Requirements
As covered in this “humidity” article on how to care for orchids, Den-Nobile orchids do best with a humidity level of 50-60%. You will want to make sure to maintain good air movement to help prevent orchid disease from setting in.
Dendrobium Nobile-Fertilizer Requirements
When Den-Nobile orchids are in full growth they should be fertilized regularly. It is important to never fertilize an orchid that is completely dry, because doing so can cause major damage to the roots.
Dendrobium Nobile-Potting Requirements
Den-Nobile orchids should be repotted every year and a half to two years or once the canes have begun to overgrow the pot or the potting medium remains soggy and no longer drains properly. Only repot the orchid after it has bloomed. Before repotting always trim away the damaged roots with a sterile cutting tool. Den-Nobile orchids can be divided as long as they have 7 or 8 canes. If you were to divide a plant with less than that it would stunt the growth of each division.
DENDROBIUM PHALAENOPSIS (Den-Phal)
Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Water Requirements
A Dendrobium Phalaenopsis orchid should be watered in the morning using tepid water. The watering schedule for a Den-Phal can greatly depend on the type of pot the orchid is planted in, the temperature, and also the time of year. As a rule of thumb, you will want to water more frequently during the warmer months and less frequently in the cooler months. While the Den-Phal is in active growth the roots and potting medium should be kept moist (water approximately once a week), but can be allowed to dry between watering once it is no longer in active growth.
Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Light Requirements
As covered in this article about orchids care and light, Dendrobium Phalaenopsis orchids thrive with medium light conditions. A great inside location to place your Den-Phal on an eastern facing windowsill. If you have a shaded southern facing windowsill this will also work.
Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Temperature Requirements
As discussed in this orchid plant care article on temperature, the temperature requirements for Den-Phal orchids are daytime temperatures somewhere between 75°F to 85°F (23.8°C to 29.4°C) and night temperatures between 60°F and 65°F (15.6°C to 18.3°C). Den-Phals will do best when there is a 15°F to 20°F (8.3°C to 11.1°C) difference between day and night temperatures. Remember, with higher temperatures you will have to maintain higher humidity conditions, more air movement, as well as more frequent waterings.
Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Humidity Requirements
The ideal humidity range to grow your Dendrobium Phalaenopsis is 50-60% humidity. If you need to increase the humidity around your orchids growing environment you can place the orchid on top of a humidity tray or place a humidifier nearby. Remember to have adequate air movement for your orchids by opening a window and letting in the breeze or by placing an oscillating fan nearby.
Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Fertilizer Requirements
Dendrobium Phalaenopsis’ need to be fertilized regularly when they are in active growth. Fertilizing every two to three weeks during the summer months and once a month in the winter should suffice.
Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Potting Requirements
Den-Phals should be repotted in a medium-grade mix every two years or once the potting medium remains soggy and no longer drains properly. Before repotting, you should always remove all of the old potting medium and trim away the damaged roots with a sterile cutting tool. Den-Phals tend to grow better in smaller size pots where they fit snugly, however, once the canes start to overgrow the pot–it’s time to repot. Den-Phals can be divided once the orchid has bloomed and new growth is starting to show. Each division needs at least three canes/growths per division.
And that just about covers the basics!