North of England Orchid Society - An introduction to dendrobium orchid culture...

Describe the photo or the page it links to

Free Orchid shows.

Every month we hold a free orchid show; either near Preston, Manchester or Warrington.

New members are always welcome, but our normal monthly shows are free to all, come along and take a look at your local orchid society.

See our orchid show page

Orchid Paintings

Orchid Paintings

historical paintings

 The above are just two images of the many Historical Paintings of Orchids awarded at our shows from the turn of the century through to the Second World War.

see more images ?

Describe the photo or the page it links to

The RHS Flower Show
Tatton Park

July 18th to 22nd 2018
Come along and meet us in the Society Marquee, free helpful advice and orchid potting demonstrations; we can supply you with  top quality approved orchid compost.

Stop Press
The Society once again has taken a Gold Medal as in last years event, along with the coveted trophy for Best display in the Marquee.

2015 results
Our display in 2015 year created in association with the OSGB and took Gold, as well as the coveted Holford Medal for a slideshow of it please click here
dendrobium thyrsiflorum

Dendrobiums come from South East Asia in an area that stretches from Northern India to the islands off the East coast of New Guinea and Australia to Polynesia. The latitude where they grow is important. The Equator runs through the middle of this territory and here it is always hot at sea level without any seasonal variation.

However, the plants from north of the Tropic of Cancer and south of the Tropic of Capricorn are used to a much greater range of climate, with colder drier winters and warm wet summers. It is important therefore to know where every plant comes from. 

see books on dendrobium growing priced in UK pounds
see books on dendrobium growing priced USD

There are over a thousand known species of Dendrobium (pronounced den-dro-bee-urn), the image at above is that of dendrobium thrysiflorum, a native of Thailand and the Himalayas, which can grow into a massive plant bearing many hundreds of blooms; still more are being discovered in the highlands of New Guinea. This makes them the second largest orchid genus in the world after Bulbophyllum.
The shape and form of their stems and leaves vary tremendously, but the pattern of flowers is fairly constant ranging in size from very small to huge. Typically the bases of the sepals are fused to the foot of the column and the lip base forming a mentum or 'chin' which often houses nectar.

There are many different orchid types which fall into the class of dendrobium.
For simplicity, we give cultural advice under three of the most common headings.

Popular dendrobiums

New Guinea plants.

dendrobium cuthberstonii

New Guinea Dendrobiums.
The climate varies with altitude and in mountainous areas there are cool, wet misty nights and mornings followed by warmer bright days. The exquisite cool and intermediate miniatures like D. cuthbertsonii shown on the right; (which requires cooler conditions with temperatures dropping as low as 45 deg at night.) Perhaps not such an easy orchid for beginners. Never allow them to dry out completely and feed often with dilute fertilizer. The river valleys between the mountain ranges are warmer and wetter, and home to some of the most exotic of the New Guinea orchids, e.g. D. lasianthera from the Sepik River basin, and many Latouria types with long-lasting flowers. All these need generous feeding and watering. The southern plains resemble Queensland but are wetter and very warm all year through. There is seasonal rainfall variation with a wetter summer and drier winter.

dendrobium phalaenopsis
Two of the outstanding species from this area (which are also found in Australia) are D. bigibbum (better know perhaps for its many hybrids which collectively are dendrobium. phalaenopsis) and D. canaliculatum, the former often found growing on rocks, the latter on the trunks of paperbark trees. The easiest New Guinea plants for beginners are Dendrobium oberrans (cool conditions); D. lawesii or D. antennatum (intermediate); and D. atroviolaceorn or D. bigibbum (D. phalaenopsis) (warm).

Cool culture.
Night time temperatures as low as 45/50degrees will be tolerated by the cooler growing species, cuthbertsonii for instance; when it is cold avoid over watering, but do not let the dry out totally.

Warm Culture.
Treat the warmer ones as you would phalaenopsis see our page on phalaenopsis culture

Phalaenopsis dendrobiums (Singapore Orchids) and Antelope dendrobiums

Phalaneopsis dendrobium flowers have can be found in a multitude of colours and stripes, anterlope dendrobiums have twisted petals giving them the appearance of having little antelope horns.

Temperature and Humidity temperature range is 50 to 90 F, this is ideal, but the odd cooler night by a degree or two will not cause any damage with a humidity of 50 to 60 percent during the daytime. As with all orchids avoid wetting the leaves when the temperature falls, i.e. over night, If in a greenhouse good air movement is essential.

Light 30- to 70-percent shade during midday. Bright light will generally encourage flowering, but take care not to get the leaves burned. Watering water very well, pour the water through and leave to drain allow the plant to dry before watering again. In summer twice a week at most In winter perhaps once every 10 days, unless in a warm environment. Nutrition Feed with every other watering at half the recommended dilution rate. This will guarantee adequate nutrition while avoiding any chance of root-tip.

Australian plants.

Australian Dendrobiums . dendrobium kingianum
Dendrobium Kingianum or near relatives are the some of the easiest to grow. The pseudobulbs or canes can be any length from 5cm. to 30cm. tall and are thin, and often spindly and tough. The leaves are narrowly oval with 2 to 4 at the top of each cane. The flowers appear in late winter and early spring in loose sprays at the tops of the canes on both the old and new canes.
New plantlets or keikis may sometimes appear instead. These can be removed and potted separately after they have developed good roots or left on the parent plant where they will eventually flower also. There are two to ten flowers on a spray, each measuring 1- 3 cm. across, in shades of pink or purple. Other plants in this group may be taller and have red, yellow, cream or white flowers.

For their culture give intermediate temperatures and drier conditions than other Dendrobiums. Spray once a week and water generously in the spring and autumn with dilute feed. A few cold weeks in winter (down to 45°F), will encourage flowering.

Nobile Dendrobiums. dendrobium nobile
Are some of the easiest to grow but can be a little difficult to bloom regularly. Their flowers are showy with colours ranging from white through pink to purple, and the lip is often beautifully marked in contrasting colours. They make magnificent specimen plants. Others are yellow and brown, while the recently introduced Yamamoto hybrids have all the colours of the rainbow. The Himalayan climate is not unlike a warmer Switzerland, with bright, cold but dry winters.

November-February: daytime temperatures can drop to 40° - 45° when you should not water or feed but give plenty of light and air movement. March-May or June: warmer and moister conditions. Buds develop and new growths appear. Water sparingly until the new shoots have grown good roots. From June-November corresponds to the monsoon period, warm and very wet. Give a low strength, high nitrogen feed in April and May, then feed weekly during maximum growth. Change to high potash for the last month. Note If you do not dry and cool the plants during winter, you won't get flowers! Himalayan Dendrobiums from lower altitudes need a less harsh winter but still dry.


Potting (all dendrobium types).
Dendrobiums like to be in small pots with their roots confined. Bark, perlag and charcoal make up an open mix which drains easily. Repot when either the compost becomes acid and soggy or when the pot is full of roots. This often means every year. Plants from the mountains of New Guinea like a little moss mixed with the bark or they can be grown on slabs of bark or tree fern on a mossy bed. Such slabs need daily misting for most of the year.

There are innumerable Dendrobium hybrids and these are almost always derived from species within one group, either Himalayan, Australian or from New Guinea. Surprisingly, most of the 'Singapore' orchids, although developed there, are derived from species of New Guinea and the adjacent islands and need much the same culture as the River Valley New Guinea species. So, when you buy a Dendrobium, ask which group it belongs to and where it comes from - and we don't mean which nursery!





image1 image2 image3 image4 image5 image6 image7 image8

One of our Gold Medal RHS Displays

For many years we created Gold Medal Winning Displays at the RHS Show Tatton Park....

Large Annual Orchid Show

Each year our Annual Show brings one of the largest orchid events to the North of England, Held in the Tenants Hall at Tatton Park....

World's Oldest Orchid Society?

Established in 1897, we have been giving awards to orchids since the turn of the Century, this is an image of one of the early orchid paintings, from which our badge is derived....

Catesatum pilateum

There are over 35000 species of orchid, here is one of the more unusual from the tropics, often seen at our monthly shows....

Laelia purpurata

This showy species makes a change from the usual Phalaenopsis Orchids found in the supermarkets; many specialist growers attend our shows....


Another species of orchid prized by the enthusiastic grower, these plants can be quite large, and are very showy...

Ophrys - The Bee Orchid

At each of our monthly shows, you will see (at the right time of the year) some fine specimens of terrestrial orchids from the temperate zones....

Dendrobium thrysiflorum

For sheer flower power you cannot beat some of the orchid species which may carry over a thousand blooms....

themed object

Do you like Orchids?

All  About Orchids & How to grow them

Bookmark and Share North of England Orchid Society
get in touch
back to top