Saturday, May 7, 2016
Dendrobium tortile Lindley 1847, twelve years from keiki to bloom!
In April 2004 my friend Caridad brought a plant of this species in bloom to a meeting of the Mayaguez orchid society. I admired the flowers and she gave me a small keiki that was growing on one of the canes. I was wildly enthusiastic about this plant and quickly potted it and gave it the best care possible. In about two years it already had fully adult sized canes plump and healthy. But then, it kept growing, but not blooming. I tried everything, shade, full sun, semi shade, bone dry rest periods, different fertilizers in fact all the things that are said to trigger blooming in recalcitrant adult Dendrobium plants. None made the plant bloom. Eventually I put it under the Dendrobium anosmum plants in a place that gets scorching hot sun, and forgot about it. The plant kept producing normal sized canes even thought it was getting absolutely no fertilizer except those that dripped from the Den, anosmum plants above it. It spent about four years in this location growing apparently contentedly and unremarkably. Then last most as I was checking the new season growths of the other Dendrobium, I came face to face with not one but three developing inflorescences, two on canes and one in a keiki. I was surprised, elated and puzzled as I have no idea what triggered blooming. Last year's dry season was exceptionally harsh, but this year's dry season has been considerably milder. The flowers are a bit floppy and tend to go limp in the afternoon and then perk up again in the mornings. I almost missed the opening of the flowers by dint of being in the hospital, but was lucky enough to get back home in time to see the first flowers open. Hopefully it wont take twelve more years to bloom again.