Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dendrobium thyrsiflorum, a rare blooming in Puerto Rico

The color combination of completely yellow to orange lip and white floral segments is a salient characteristic of Dendrobium thyrsiflorum
It is very rare to see locally plants with full sized inflorescences.  Plants in the wild and those cultivated in temperate climates can produce even larger inflorescences

This flower shows the round lip of a fully opened flower

Dendrobium thysiflorum is an orchid that is found in the northern areas of India and the Himalayas, China, Thailand and Vietnam.  In Puerto Rico it can grow happily and vigorously.  But it blooms rarely and most of the time with relatively short inflorescences that are a pale shadow of the ones this plant produces in the wild and under cultivation in more temperate climates.  I have often wondered why this plant won't bloom well locally.  I thought that it might be due to the lack of the proper rest period of low temperatures or too enthusiastic fertilizing and watering in its rest season.  But after examining this plant I am starting to suspect that although temperature and rest period may have something to do with the lack of blooming it may be that most local plants are too small to bloom properly.  The blooming plant was significantly larger than most plants I have seen under cultivation locally with canes close to two feet tall.  In more temperate areas  Dendrobium thyrsiflorum can grow into humoungous specimen plants that produce dozens of inflorescences at the same time.  I have never seen a specimen plant in Puerto Rico but after seen this one, there is hope that someone can crack the problem of blooming this plant well in our island.  This plant can be cutlivated the same as Dendrobium farmeri but it is a much taller orchid.  I grow my own plant of this orchid in a net pot.  I have lived there for many years but now I see that it has the potential to grow much larger as my plant is barely nine inches tall.  I plant to give it heavy fertilizing during its growth phase to see if I can coax it to produce larger canes.

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