Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dendrobium helix P.J. Cribb 1980, some notes on its care

This species is from New Guinea, it grows in the coastal lowlands.  It has proven an easy species to grow under my local climatic conditions.  The largest canes of my plant have reached four feet tall but I am sure it has the potential to grow even larger.  It produces inflorescences intermittently during the year but flowers most realibly in late autumn.  The flowers of this particular clone are orange and have a purple lip.  Here are some observations on its growth and culture.

Light:  My plant grows best just under the sarah cloth where it is exposed to the strongest light short of full sunlight.  Unfortunately the canes grow right up to the shade cloth and inflorescences can grow into the cloth and become damaged or deformed if the plant is not lowered to allow them to develop normally.

Temperature:  It grows well under the local temperatures.

Watering:  Most of the year the local rainfall supplies all the water this plants needs, only in the driest months do this plant has to be watered.  Watering it once a week in the dry season is enough to keep the plant healthy.

Fertilizer:  This plant gets fertilized only when it is producing new canes.  In its growing season it get a high nitrogen fertilizer.

Potting:  It is growing in a wire basket that I made specially for this plant.  The media was bark, but it decayed away years ago.  The plant is growing on top of the remains of its own old root ball.  Every year a new flush of root growth from the new canes grows over the basket and the old roots.  I have also used plastic pots and they work well as long as they have plenty of holes and the media is open.  Clay pots also work well with the added bonus that their weight helps keep the plant upright when the mass of canes becomes too heavy.

Pests:  Thrips will damage the inflorescences and the flowers.  Slugs will eat the canes when they are young and tender.

Notes:  My plants grow best if they are in an open media that allows plenty of air to reach the roots.  The best media for this species in my garden is stones or very hard bark that decays slowly.

1 comment:

Scott Slimmer said...

My name is Scott Slimmer, and I am the lab manager for Prof. Jennifer Lewis' research group ( at Harvard University. Our group is very interested in using one of your dendrobium helix photos in an upcoming article on 3D printing of stimuli responsive materials. We would, of course, credit the photo to you in the article. Please contact me ( if you would be willing to discuss this possibility further. Thanks you very much for your time and consideration.