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Dendrobium orchid is widely popular around the world because it is considered to be the easy-care orchid variety. They are beautiful and extraordinary, but what makes them even more gorgeous is that they can be kept in hanging baskets and beautify your indoor space even more!
Here is a resume on how to care for dendrobium orchids: They like moderate temperatures between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius and high humidity levels (50-70%). They don’t like much direct sunlight. The blooming period can last throughout the whole year, as the old canes can rebloom. Dendrobiums like moderate watering, once every five to seven days. The potting medium should be porous and well-drained. Additional feeding twice a month is advised. Repotting should be done every 2-3 years.
Feel intrigued by the low-maintenance needs of this orchid genus? Let me help you fall in love with this charming flower and talk about Dendrobium care.
Origins of Dendrobium Orchid
Dendrobium orchid genus (Latin Dendrobium phalaenopsis) origins from Southeast Asia, and is one of the largest orchid genera, containing over 1200 different species!
Even though they come from Asia, they have become very popular and wide-spread, so they can be found throughout the world, living in colder climates, as well.
Dendrobium Orchid Appearance
Dendrobium is one of the most popular orchid varieties in the whole world! It is expected because they are beautiful yet easy-maintenance orchids.
They are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants (usually trees) surface. They are often seen living on tree branches. The leaves are green.
Some dendrobium species grow and hold their leaves for the whole year. Other species are deciduous, which means they shred the leaves every year.
Deciduous or not, you can expect at least one young cane every year. Also, they usually rebloom, so you will enjoy colorful flowers for a long time!
Dendrobium orchids are usually divided into groups judging by the different growing conditions they require.
There are ‘noble’ varieties that are older, and there are hybridized species as well.
Pro-Tip: Although dendrobium is considered to be the easy-maintenance member of the orchid family, some people struggle with cultivating dendrobium hybrids. The reason? Growers often forget that hybrid species can be a little more demanding, and they need more sunlight, water, and fertilizer.
Blooming Dendrobium Orchids
When it comes to the blooming period, pretty much every dendrobium orchid has its process of it. They can bloom several times a year if the conditions are good enough.
Also, dendrobium flowers last pretty long, for a month and a half to two months. They are lovely when used as a part of a flower arrangement.
Dendrobium flowering period usually depends on the temperature. To be precise, they need a change between daytime and nighttime temperatures.
To encourage blooming, make a 7 to 10 degrees Celsius change in the daytime and nighttime temperatures and reduce the watering.
Pro-Tip: After the blooming period, you might be in doubt whether to cut off the old canes. Here is the super tip when it comes to dendrobium care – don’t prune the canes. They can rebloom, but, more importantly, they store water and valuable nutrients.
On the other side, since the canes are established from the rhizomes, you can prune them, let them develop roots, and plant them.
The canes produce a ‘baby plant’ this way. These plantlets are also known as ‘keikis’. Keiki is exclusive to some orchid subspecies – Epidendrum, Phalaenopsis, and Dendrobium.
They are being produced asexually (no pollination) and are exact clones of the mother plant.
They can even bloom while attached to the mother plant! It takes them about two years to grow into a mature plant.
Sunlight Requirements for Dendrobium Care
A lot of sunlight is essential for dendrobiums care. Bright places with enough morning light will do wonders for your dendrobium!
Still, like most orchid varieties, they don’t like a lot of direct sunlight!
If you decide to place them on a windowsill (which isn’t a bad idea), I advise using some weighted but bright-colored drapes.
You should protect the plant from direct sunlight in the period from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. especially if the window is facing south.
Still, if you notice that the leaves are looking pale and yellow, it may be because dendrobium has been getting too much direct sunlight.
Dendrobium Orchid Temperature Requirements
Dendrobium orchids like high temperatures (not too high, though). Try to maintain the temperature level around 25 degrees Celsius during the day.
Still, they need a daily temperature change to bloom – the colder temperatures stimulate the blooming process.
Thus, try to lower nighttime temperatures to around 12 to 15 degrees Celsius. Especially noble (older) species need temperature change.
When it comes to hybrids dendrobian orchids, it isn’t necessarily so, but most growers still advise making the temperature gap.
In any case, the temperature shouldn’t go above 30 degrees Celsius. Too high temperatures might cause leaf yellowing.
Watering Dendrobium Orchids
Dendrobium likes watering a little more than most orchid varieties. Water abundantly during the growing season, from May to September.
Dendrobium likes high humidity and a lot of watering during this period. Watering once every five to seven days during the hot days will be enough.
However, during the colder period, once every ten days is enough. Never let the potting medium become completely dry!
On the other hand, you mustn’t overwater the plant. Too much watering will make the potting mix waterlogged which will then cause root rot.
What Type of Water to Use for Dendrobium Care?
Another thing that is very important when it comes to dendrobium orchids care – water quality.
Most orchid species are sensitive to tap water.
The chlorine and other chemicals found in tap water may dry out the roots or cause leaf yellowing. To prevent this, I advise not using tap water at all. Instead, use rainwater.
I have recently found out that there are some law regulations when it comes to harvesting rainwater in some USA states, so firstly check the laws in your country.
For example, it is completely illegal to do it in Colorado. If you can’t harvest rainwater, you can use distilled water.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to spend any money, there is another solution. You can fill plastic and glass bottles with tap water and leave them open under direct sunlight.
In a few days, all harmful substances should evaporate.
Of course, if you live in a hot area and the water in the bottles becomes hot, firstly let it cool before you use it for watering.
Water should always be lukewarm.
Orchid like porous potting mediums that don’t hold onto water. Thus, you might be thinking that you have been watering your dendrobium orchid plant normally, but it actually isn’t getting enough water because the water just runs through the pot.
Pro-Tip: To prevent this, I advise using a different method of watering. Place the whole pot in a container filled with water. Let it stay for five to ten minutes and then take it out.
Humidity Requirements for Dendrobium Care
Dendrobium likes high humidity levels, slightly higher than most of the orchid family members. Try to maintain the humidity level between 50 to 70%.
In any case, humidity shouldn’t go below 45%. If the dendrobium flower isn’t getting enough humidity, you’ll notice it by leaf browning.
Still, in this case, the browning will start at the top of the leaf.
To raise the humidity, you can place the whole pot on a tray that is filled with moist rock pebbles. Make sure the roots aren’t touching the water from the tray, as it will cause root rot.
Another way to preserve humidity is to group your house plants in a smaller space.
Although this is a good idea, I don’t recommend it when it comes to orchids, as they are delicate and different changes may cause them problems.
Of course, you can always buy a humidifier and solve the problem. When it comes to misting, it is allowed, but you have to do it very carefully.
First of all, never mist (not water) dendrobian orchid during the night. This may cause severe problems, such as mold.
You can read more about why not to water house plants during the night here.
When misting, make sure the water doesn’t reach the flowers, nor the stem. You want to affect the leaves only.
You can also use a cotton cloth soaked in water and gently wipe the leaves, to preserve the humidity and shiny leaves.
Dendrobium Orchid Soil Requirements
When it comes to dendrobium orchid care and maintenance, the right type of soil is the most important thing.
As I have already said, they are epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants.
This is the reason why the potting mix should be soilless – dendrobium roots don’t touch the soil in nature.
Use a special orchid potting mixture. It can be found in every flower shop. It doesn’t contain any soil, but it has peat moss, perlite, and wood bark.
Also, the potting medium goes bad through time. It doesn’t contain enough valuable nutrients for the roots and the plant itself.
This is when repotting is necessary (it usually takes two to three years before it becomes unusable).
The most important things when it comes to the potting medium are that it ensures excellent drainage and good airflow!
Remember, dendrobium roots live between tree branches, which means they are always in touch with the air.
This is also the reason why you’ll notice orchid roots ‘escaping’ their containers – they are looking for sunlight and air.
Another essential when it comes to dendrobium orchid care – a pot with enough draining holes.
Fertilizing Dendrobium Orchid
Dendrobium likes to be fed, especially during the growing period. Fertilizing your Orchid is one of the essentials in dendrobium orchid care.
Do it once a week in the growing period. Just make sure you don’t overfertilize dendrobium, it may cause leaf yellowing.
The chemicals found in fertilizers can also ‘burn’ the roots. When overfed, orchids go through a state called ‘chlorosis’.
That means they are low in iron. Without enough iron, the roots start to lose their healthy green color and become yellow.
On the other hand, if you are not feeding your dendro orchid at all, the leaves may turn yellow as well, because of nutrient deficiency.
Repotting Dendrobium Orchid Plants
When it comes to repotting dendrobium, two things are important – the type of the soil and the container size.
When it comes to the size, keep in mind that orchids don’t like much space, so try not to choose an overly large pot.
A too-big container will cause the roots to develop excessively while the upper organs of the plant will stagnate.
You can leave just 3 to 5 cm from the root ball to the pot edges.
Still, keep in mind that the new pot is where orchids dendrobium will be located for another couple of years, so count in the growth.
I have already mentioned that his orchid genus can be cultivated in hanging baskets, as well.
Still, to make them thrive like that, you’ll have to have some previous knowledge. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone new in the orchid world.
When kept in the basket, the airflow is stronger, they usually need more water, it is harder to raise the humidity level…
Also, I suggest using basic see-through plastic pots.
This way, you can have a glance at the roots at any time and you can judge whether the roots are sick or rotten.
In addition, orchid roots like sunlight and air, so it is healthy for them to be in a see-through container.
If you want to add to the beauty, you can put the orchid in the plastic pot in another, colored pot. In this case, try to at least purchase a bright-colored pot.
When it comes to the second important factor, the quality of the soil, read the paragraph about soil.
How to Re-pot Dendrobium?
First of all, how will you know that you should re-pot dendrobium?
If you notice that it has completely overgrown the pot, or that the potting matter has disintegrated, wait for the blooming period to end and re-pot dendrobium orchids plants.
You shouldn’t re-pot it more often than once every two to three years. Firstly, carefully remove the plant from the previous pot.
Examine the roots and see are they in a good condition. Remove as much of the old potting mix as you can.
If there are any damaged roots or stems, prune them with a sharp sterilized knife or scissors. After that, carefully place the plant in the new container and tuck the potting mix at the top.
You don’t want to press it too much, we already concluded that orchids like a lot of oxygen in their soil. Don’t water the plant for a week, and then do it abundantly.
Pro-Tip: Earlier I stated that you shouldn’t prune the old canes because they might rebloom. Still, if you notice more than three of them, you can cut some of them off.
You can use old canes as baby plants.
If you notice that the mother plant has more than three healthy canes (that carry healthy leaves), you can try to propagate it.
While separating the plant, you will have to be extra careful with the roots. They are usually tangled up, so it won’t be easy to separate them from one another.
You are bound to hurt some of them, but try to hurt as little of them as you can.
Firstly, remove your Dendrobium from the pot, take out the potting medium, and carefully divide the roots.
Having done that, find an appropriate container for your new plants. Keep an eye on the size! It shouldn’t be too big.
Place the plant and the potting mix in the pot and tuck it in a little. Don’t water them for a week, and then do it abundantly.
Common Problems of Dendrobium Care
Growing Dendrobiums is great! However, there are several obstacles you might stumble upon. Let’s talk about what they are and how to minimize the chance of getting them.
If you notice your dendrobium orchid leaves getting yellow, there are several causes for it. One of the reasons might be too much direct sunlight.
This is the easiest problem to solve – just relocate the pot. On the other hand, overwatering may cause leaf yellowing, as well. A temperature change may cause yellowness, also.
Orchids are somewhat tough to cultivate precisely because they like constantly moderate temperatures. If the temperature goes below 15 degrees Celsius, the low temperature may harm the plant.
Still, some growers insist that orchids can live on a little lower temperature, around 10 degrees Celsius, but I don’t recommend that kind of experimenting.
On the other hand, temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius will cause the leaf yellowness, as well.
Another one of the most common problems when it comes to dendrobium orchid care – overwatering.
Not only it can harm the plant by causing yellow leaves and rotten roots, but it can lead to the death of the plant.
Overfertilizing may cause yellowness, as well as not feeding the plant enough.
If you are feeding enough your dendrobium and the leaves are still turning yellow, change the fertilizer – maybe the plant needs some of the nutrients that aren’t found in the food you are using.
In the end, I would like to mention that orchids change their leaves (of course), so it is only natural that the bottom leaves are becoming yellow and the plant releases them at some point.
If only the bottom layer of the leaves is becoming yellow, there is nothing to worry about!
Pro-Tip: When buying an orchid, try to find the best location in your home for it, as soon as you bring it home. Orchids don’t like relocating. The change of the spot may cause leaf yellowing, as well.
As in the previous case, there is more than one cause for leaf browning.
If you notice that the leaf tips are getting brown, it is because dendrobium hasn’t been getting enough humidity.
On the other hand, if you notice brown spots, the plant has been exposed to too much direct sunlight. Relocate the pot.
While doing this, try to find the best place for the plant right away since orchids don’t like relocating, it is pretty stressful for them.
Different fungi or pests may cause it as well. In any given case, prune the affected leaves and use pesticide soap to remove parasites.
This is a very common problem when it comes to orchid care for newbies. Most orchid varieties are drought-tolerant and don’t like much watering.
Overwatering eventually causes root rot. If you notice that you have been overwatering your dendrobium, you must re-pot it immediately.
Take it out of the old pot and shake off the potting medium.
Carefully prune the rotten roots using a sharp sterilized tool.
This is extremely important because you don’t want to spread the infection.
After that, carefully re-pot the plant.
If you can’t see the roots through the container, some other signs indicate root rot (actually, overwatering) – wilted plant, shriveling, and/or yellowing leaves.
Once you take the plant out of the pot, you’ll notice that the roots are dark brown or even black, soggy and slimy. Remove them to try to save the plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dendrobium is one of the easy-care orchid genera. It likes bright places away from direct sunlight.
The watering should be done once or twice a week.
It likes high humidity levels, 50-70%, while the optimal temperature should be around 20 degrees Celsius.
The potting matter should be soilless and well-drained. Fertilize it twice a week during the growing period and reduce the fertilizing amounts later. Repotting should be done every 2-3 years.
Common problems include leaf color change, overwatering, and some common pests.
Still, after reading this article, I am sure you will have the solution to every eventual problem you might encounter in dendrobium orchids care.