Friday, October 31, 2008

Dendrobium hybrid culture

Dendrobium Thongchai Gold

Each year vast multitudes of these popular Dendrobium hybrids are sent to that great orchid terracota pot in the sky by well meaning growers. The problem that Dendrobium that are descended from crosses of the Sphatulata and the Phalaenopsis section of Dendrobium pose to the average grower is both perplexing and contradictory. On one hand they are heavy feeders that demand good watering and fertilizing when growing, on the other, overwatering and too much fertilizer are deadly to these orchids. As a result these plants are carefully cared by people who love them in ways that slowly but surely kill them. The first error is potting these plants in an overly large pot, this is a death sentence. These plants need good oxygenation of the roots, a mix that has poorly ventilated spots or even anoxic areas will kill the roots in no time. The best solution is to pot these plants in pots that allow for plenty of air flow. This last week end I was visiting relatives in a seaside area of the town of Rincon. People there cultivate these dendrobiums on palm trunks. Putting most orchids in a palm trunk that has the consistency of concrete, in full sun, in an area subject to strong winds and the occasional sea spray is almost a sure death sentence, these Dendrobium however survive and even thrive. Since a photo is worth a thousand words here are some photos so you can see for yourself how these plants do under conditions that most plants would find too severe to survive.

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