Dendrobium retailicum- The Retail Orchid

Dendrobium orchids are one of the most popular
orchids in the retail market. They have a lot of good things going for them: the flowers last a long time, the plants can re-bloom with minimal care, and there is a huge diversity of plant sizes and flower colors to choose from. Dendrobiums are marketed by the millions worldwide, and are one of the easiest of all orchids to grow. One of the sad parts of the buying experience is what happens after the flowers die off. Many orchid retailers get "the call", wherein the flustered caller says that the orchid died after only 6  months of repose on the grand piano in the  library. The truth to the scenario is that  flowers died
after 6  months, not the plant. The plants will live for
                                                                                     decades with proper care.

My first reaction is that if you can buy an orchid for 15 or 20 dollars and have the flowers last for 6 months, you're doing really well ! Many orchids are in flower for only a few weeks at best, so anything more than 2 months is doing well. The recent trend in cutflower-style Dendrobium plants is to grow medium sized plants ( under 2 feet tall), with at least 2 spikes of flowers expected per matured cane. These plants are extremely easy to grow and quite forgiving in their care needs. Simply choose a sunny spot in a window or and area outdoors where the plants can receive morning sunshine and afternoon shade, and the
                       plants should thrive.

Growing the plants outdoors in Miami is easier then growing many landscape plants, since many Dendrobium types make
excellent tree-mounted plants, rooting extensively to tree trunks.
Choose a rough-barked tree such as an Oak, Mahogany, Weeping Bottlebrush, Black Olive or Cypress tree on which to mount your plant. The plants also make excellent potted plants outdoors, provided they are potted in something coarse, watered and fertilized often, and potted in very small pots. Dendrobiums need to have the roots contained tightly in order to bloom well. The plants will escape their pots quickly, and grow larger as they do.

The first step to take after you get your plant home from the retailer is to water it thoroughly, which means until the water comes flowing out the bottom of the pot. Proper watering is one of the keys to good culture. Give the plant as much light as it can stand without burning. Indoors this usually means an east or southeast window. Outdoors, these plants can handle almost any weather that Florida will throw at them. There is no longer any reason to fear these easy-to-grow orchids; they behave like regular plants. Just give them the sun, heat, water  and  fertilizer they like, and they'll reward you with exotic blooms year after year.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens

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