Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dendrobium griffithianum Lindl. 1836, potted in a handmade wire basket.

I brought this plant in December 2013.  It is in excellent condition and the roots are well developed and free from rot.  Unfortunately it was potted in a plastic pot.  Plastic pots are good for plants if there is a way to control how much water the plant gets, but locally, planting Dendrobium in plastic pots is a recipe for eventual root rot.  The problem is that the local high humidity, and the fact that in the rainy season it can rain very hard every single day for months, provide just the right conditions for bacteria, fungus and insects to turn the potting material into mush.  Decayed potting material can deprive the roots of the oxygen they need to survive.  To avoid this I usually plant my Dendrobium in baskets. Some of the baskets, like this one are custom made to fit the particular needs of the plant.

The basket is two inches deep and six inches wide.  I lined the inside of the basket with fiber that I harvest from the sides of the bases of the leaves of the coconut palm.   I harvest it from fallen fronds or from palm trees that are still small.  I cut it to the needed size using scissors.  I line the sides and the bottom to provide a surface for the roots to attach.  The coconut fiber eventually decays, but by then the roots have the material in a tight grip.

I use medium sized bark.  I dont pack it too tightly.  I fasten the orchid to the basket with wire so that it won't wooble, if the plant is not firmly in place it can severely affect the growth and attachment of the roots to the media and even cause the death of the plant.   These type of Dendrobium appreciate abundant watering during the growing season and good fertilization.   

I have planted other Dendrobium, such as Den harveyanum, this way with excellent results.  I hope this particular species also does well in this set up.    The only problem I have with these baskets is that they are irresistible to ferns and I have to constatly remove small fern rhizome from the sides.

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