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dendrobium phalaenopsis Photo Credit: www.OrchidPlants.info

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis

These orchids are named for their strong resemblance to the phalaenopsis bloom and were not so long ago only available at orchid growers. They are now readily available in most garden centers.

The traditional and still most popular color is purple. However, there is a wide selection of newer hybrids and cultivars including white, pink, candy striped and yellow varieties.

This is a warm growing type dendrobium and individual canes can grow up to three feet tall. They are dependable and prolific bloomers.

Tall, erect flower spikes are produced from the tip of the cylindrical pseudobulb (cane) after foliage matures in the fall. The inflorescence develops a graceful arch as the flowers along the stem open. Older healthy canes will also generate spikes and sometimes produce keikies which can be severed from the mother plant and potted up once they have a couple of roots of their own.

Dendrobium phalaenopsis require medium to high light conditions and generally thrive in the same environment as cattleyas. They need plenty of water when in active growth and are strong feeders as well. We give ours 1/2 strength 30-10-10 fertilizer with every other watering and an occasional drench of the whole plant to flush out the growing medium. In fact, these dendrobiums like to take a shower frequently during the growing season. Reduce frequency of watering and fertilizing after blooming during the colder months of the year.

Repotting must be done in the spring when new growth first emerges and you can see the roots beginning to form. Do not repot an any other time of the year. If you miss the timing, wait until next year.

When selecting a container remember small is best. Use a clay pot just large enough to contain the root system comfortably. Cut off any old dead pseudobulbs straight down through the rhizome and the old potting mix, thereby removing old and unneeded roots as well. Put a layer of pebbles on the bottom and pot tightly by tamping down the mix around the root ball. We use medium fir bark with a little charcoal. Sometimes, as a result of a small pot, the plant wants to topple over. You can either hang the pot or place it into another larger clay pot and fill the surrounding space with pebbles for stability.

There are several methods of propagation. The easiest is by separating and potting any keikies that develop. If you have a mature plant with at least six healthy canes, you can propagate it by division. This can be done at the same time you are repotting. Be sure to leave at least 3 or more pseudobulbs per plant. Make clean cuts through the rhizome and leave the back portions without water for about a week after potting.

Another method of propagation is by cuttings. dendrobium collection Select an older but viable pseudobulb and cut into sections, each consisting of a number of internodes. Prepare a flat of either moist sand or sphagnum moss and lay the pieces on top, pushing down slightly so good contact is made. Keep warm, moist and in somewhat reduced light and you will soon see small plantlets appear which can be potted individually once they have their own root system.
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