Dendrobium nobile

Dendrobium nobile
Dendrobium nobile, also known as The Noble Dendrobium is native to southern Asia. It is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is called shí hú. This particular orchid is one of the most widespread ornamental members of the family. Dendrobium nobile is a sympodial orchid which forms pseudobulbs. This orchid is an epiphyte and main plant produces little offsets which will continue the life of the plant after the original plant dies, each year. The flower bract is erect and during the flowering period it forms blooms on its sides along the whole length, generally opposite of the leaf axis. 

Dendrobium nobile have rather specific cultural requirements however they can still be grown and will produce flowers in the house or under glass. When those requirements are met, they will produce a profusion of sweet-scented, long lasting flowers usually in spring. Nobiles can be placed out side during the summer months however if there is any risk of frost, then you need to bring them back inside. They should be grown in part shade out of the direct sunlight however they do need reasonably bright conditions. 

During the summer you will need to water regulary, especially if kept outside but hold back on watering in the winter. As they like to be kept fairly pot bound then there will be little water held by any media you use (a general orchid potting mix is fine or sphagnum moss), hence the need to water regularly in the growing season. Dendrobium nobile do not like hot temperatures, to induce flowering the plant needs to be kept below about 15 Centrigrade (60f) at night, once flower buds form then the temperature can be increased slightly, with cooler conditions dont over water as this can cause rot. 

We took the above photo at Kew Gardens Tropical Extravaganza 2012.

Feeding Moth Orchids

As with all plants Orchids require nutrition, clearly with many thousand s of different species of orchids each will require their own particular form of care and attention, light levels, watering and nutrition will vary from species to species. For the purpose of this post I am only talking about the typical Phalaenopsis or more commonly known as moth, orchids because these are the most common orchids for beginners, widely available everywhere from DIY sheds, Ikea, garden centres and even small corner shops. Many People view orchids as some sort of exotic, tricky to grow plant, which is simply not true, or rather is not true of Moth Orchids. Orchids have traditionally been grown by specialty growers, producing flowers for the florist trade as well plants for the collectors. 

Phalaenopsis  'Las Palmas'

With any plant to get the best out you should consider their cultural requirements, Phalaenopsis orchids epiphytes, which essentially means they they grow on tree trunks, branches, rocks, and anywhere else they can get a hold. Their roots are mostly exposed to the air and as such Moth orchids do not grow up out of the soil like a typical terrestrial plant. 

The roots collect all the moisture and nutrients the orchid needs from the surrounding environment, for instance organic materials like rotten leaves, animal droppings, as well as mineral deposits in rainwater serve as to feed the orchid. 

For convenience, a slow release fertilizer with equal proportions of N-P-K (nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K)) (14-14-14) used as directed, works well with Phalaenopsis. However, most serious growers prefer to use a liquid plant food, again with equal parts of N-P-K, appled at the recommended rate every second time you water.During blooming season you might consider a blooming plant formula with elevated phosphorus levels (i.e. 10-30-20). During winter months you can reduce liquid fertilizer applications to once a month.

If in doubt remember, Orchids will do far better with too little fertiliser than with too much.