All About Dendrobium Orchid – History, Meaning, Facts, Care & More

Dendrobium orchids are popular during weddings especially as corsages. Its stems and delicate blossoms are popularly used in bridal flower arrangements too as it showcases the beauty of the bride. Preferred choices include creamy white as well as pink dendrobium orchids. Heavy sprays of dendrobium orchids also make a lovely flower arrangement in a vase. In this article, we will expand on this plant. Read on to know more about it.

Characteristics of Dendrobium Orchid

The Dendrobium Orchid is epiphytic, which means it grows exclusively on trees. The plant gets water and nutrients from moist air. Most Dendrobium species are also known to remove harmful toxins like xylene and toluene in the air.

It has satin-like blossoms that grow 1 to 2 inches wide. Its stem grows from 12 to 18 inches. Dendrobium orchids come in different hues including white, ivory, red, purple, green, yellow, and orange.

Dendrobium Orchid Species

There are around 1,600 species of the Dendrobium genus. The various species grow throughout the world from New Zealand to Asia. These species require different conditions such as warm climate, cool climate, and intermediate climate. For example, Dendrobium species like the Dendrobium antennatum thrive in full sun while species like Dendrobium kingianum are more tolerant and can withstand late fall and light frost in early winter.

Dendrobium Orchid Hybrids

As the different varieties of dendrobium orchids are popular among orchid enthusiasts, hybrid dendrobiums have been created. Hybrids like Dendrobium cuthbertsonii have an extended life span while breeds like the Dendrobium noble made new hues available from the original colors of the plant found in the Himalayas. Some hybrids are named after notable people such as Margaret Thatcher, and Dendrobium Bae Yong-joon. There are still new hybrids being developed in New Guinea.

History of Dendrobium

In 1799, the Swedish botanist Olof Swartz formally described the genus Dendrobium. In 1981, the German-Polish botanist Friedrich Gustav Brieger reclassified the terete-leaved dendrobiums into the Dockrillia genus. It should be noted that these plants hail from New Guinea and Australia.

In 2002, David Jones and Mark Clements further divided the genus into smaller genera including Tropolis and Winika.

Meaning of Dendrobium Orchid

Dendrobium comes from the Greek words ‘dendron which means tree and ‘bios’ which means life. Dendrobium then mean ‘life in the tree’ referring to the fact that the orchid grows on trees.

This flower is associated with refinement and beauty. They make a suitable gift during anniversaries and weddings. Dendrobium orchids are also a symbol of pure affection and can mean love between couples as well as friends and colleagues. It can be given as a gift during holidays and special occasions. It can also be given as congratulatory flowers when celebrating achievements at work or in school such as promotions and graduations.

Facts about Dendrobium Orchid

  • It has no fragrance.
  • In horticulture, dendrobium is abbreviated as Den.
  • It also goes by the names Singapore Orchid and Bamboo Orchid.
  • Many Dendrobium species remove air pollutants and other toxins from the air
  • Some species of the plant are also used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine

How to Care for Dendrobium Orchids

It is vital to know that different Dendrobium species require different care. Be sure to know what species are in your care and ask your local flower source for expert tips on caring for the plant. Meanwhile, here are some tips about caring for the plant:

Vase Life: Dendrobium orchids have a vase life of one to three weeks. It is mostly available year-round.

Light: They are light-tolerant orchids although some have adapted to cooler climates. Most will tolerate a full morning sun and afternoon shade or a day temperature of around 68-85° F and a night temperature of about 65–75°F. When in bud, dendrobium orchids require an even temperature. Avoid from placing the budding dendrobium orchids in drafty places or chilly zones which may cause the buds to drop.

Water: Dendrobium orchids are best allowed to the point of almost drying out before it should be watered. They should not be allowed to stand in moisture. A good rule of thumb is to water the plant once a week.

Fertilizer: In summertime when the orchids are growing, you can add a balanced fertilizer (12-12-12). Do not fertilize in the fall. If by January no growth is evident, you may use a high phosphorous fertilizer (10-30-20) to encourage the blooming process.

Growth: Dendrobium orchids grow between summer to fall and are dormant from late fall to winter. When planting this type of flower, keep in mind that the plant can double in size within a year. Blossoms should start to appear in February and should last around 6 weeks. You can see re-growth in cool temperatures as much as three times a year.

Caring for Dendrobium Species and Hybrids

Those who have never cared for a dendrobium orchid before may opt to care for hybrids as they are relatively easier to grow than the parent species. Some types of hybrids include the Yamamoto Dendrobium which can thrive in a wide range of environments. They come in Nobile and Phalaenopsis orchid types.

  • Nobile hybrids are a popular hybrid that grows up to 50 flowers on a single plant. The blooms come in hues of pink, white, and yellow, and can last up to 3 weeks. Nobile hybrids go into dormancy during winter. The dormant plant should not be fed or watered to give it time to rest. You may lightly mist spray the plant if you notice that the canes have shriveled.

The plant does not require too much fertilizer and should only be lightly fertilized before new growths start. Never use slow release fertilizers which can burn the plant at the roots. Also, it will need lots of light, air circulation, and temperature in the low 50s°F (10s°C).

  • Phalaenopsis dendrobium orchids resemble the Phalaenopsis genus flowers. It can blossom 20 flowers at a time. Do not water this plant too often but rather allow it to dry before watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot and death of the plant. Also, the plant requires around 60 to 70% humidity, bright light, strong air movement, and warm temperature at around 65 to 82 °F (18 to 24 °C).

If you prefer to care for Dendrobium orchid species that are native to certain places, keep in mind the easiest to care for are:

  • Dendrobium loddigesii are showy flowers that grow up to 8 inches tall and 2 inches wide. This Chinese-native orchid thrives in bright light and requires temperatures from 45 to 60 °F (7 to 15 °C). The blossoms can last around 6 weeks and lies dormant in winter.
  • Dendrobium kingianum are easy to please and are fragrant. They are large varieties that grow up to 18 inches tall and have around 15 flowers that are an inch big. This variety hails from Australia and will thrive in temperatures around 55 to 60 °F (13 to 16 °C). This plant does not require a water rest period.
  • Dendrobium bellatulum is native to Burma, India, Vietman, Laos, Thailand, and China. It blooms in late winter or early in spring and thrive in humid environments.