How do I care for a Dendrobium Orchid?

Do I take care of a Dendrobium Orchid the same way I take care of a Phaleonopsis Orchid?

Hi Tom,

Lavendar and white dendrobium orchid and

Dendrobium orchid

There are two main types of Dendrobium Orchids, hard-caned and soft-caned. The care for each is very different and proper care is very important for these orchids to thrive. Here are some care tips from a book entitled Orchids Made Easy that I think are are excellent.

“Dendrobiums are separated into two main groups: hard-caned and soft-caned.
Hard-caned Dendrobiums have tall pseudobulbs that are very thin and their leaves are generally a little darker in color than the soft-caned. Hard-caned Dens are evergreen and often keep their leaves for many years before they drop them. Hard-caned Dens grow spikes from the top of the cane and produce gorgeous flower sprays.

Soft-caned Dendrobiums have leafy pseudobulbs that are long and slim. Their leaves are generally a little lighter in color than the hard-caned Dens. They grow leaves along the length of the cane and the blooms sprout from the individual stems that are along the cane itself. Soft-caned dendrobiums are deciduous and drop their leaves when the weather gets cold.

Because the care for each type of Dendrobium can vary so much we have chosen two types to give you detailed care on. The Dendrobium Nobile (which are soft-caned) and Dendrobium Phalaenopsis, also sometimes referred to as Dendrobium Bigibbum (which are hard-caned).

DENDROBIUM NOBILE (Den-Nobile)

Dendrobium Nobile-Water Requirements
A Dendrobium Nobile orchid should be watered in the morning using lukewarm water. Watering frequency – as covered in this article about watering orchids – can be determined by a few different things. The watering schedule for a Den-Nobile greatly depends on the season and its growth cycle. When the plant is actively growing, you should water once a week. In the early fall, you should reduce your watering schedule to help encourage bud growth. In the winter you should only water when you see that the pseudobulbs are beginning to shrivel because this is an indicator that you are not giving the plant enough water.

Dendrobium Nobile-Light Requirements

Den-Nobile orchids, along with it’s hybrids, grow best with high lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light. intensity. The ideal place for a Den-Nobile is a windowsill with southern light exposure. Remember to not let the orchid receive direct sunlight because this could cause the orchid to get sunburned leaves.

Dendrobium Nobile-Temperature Requirements
Dendrobium Nobile orchids are cooler growers than the Den-Phals and they require temperatures that are a little lower. While the Den-Nobile orchid is in bloom it does best with nighttime temperatures of 40°F to 50°F (4.4°C to 10°C). Temperatures should not rise above 90°F (32.2°C) or fall below 37°F to 39°F (2.8°C to 3.9°C).

Dendrobium Nobile-Humidity Requirements
As covered in this “humidity” article on how to care for orchids, Den-Nobile orchids do best with a humidity levelThese are general guidelines that describe how poisonous certain houseplants are. It's possible for an allergic reaction to occur from contact with any houseplant, toxic or non-toxic. If there is ever a concern, call: Poison Control Center: ******1-800-222-1222****** Level #1: Houseplants with low toxicity, may be mildly irritating, especially the sap of the plant. Level#2: Houseplants with medium to severe toxicity. Eating parts of these houseplants may result in vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties. Level #3: These houseplants are  very poisonous. When eaten, especially in large quantities,  severe vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties can occur. Level #4: These houseplants are extremely poisonous. Eating parts of these houseplants can be be life threatening. Every plant listed in our Popular HousePlant guide has a section explaining whether or not it is poisonous and, if so, how poisonous. Amaryllis, alocasia, dieffenbachias, crotons, ivies, azaleas, lilies, and philodendrons are just a few of the highly poisonous plants we use in our homes and offices all of the time. If you don't know whether your houseplant is poisonous, go to Ask Judy on the HousePlant411.com website, send her a picture of your plant, and she'll let you know if the houseplant should be kept away from small children and pets. See colorful pictures and get more information about poisonous houseplants in Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants   of 50-60%. You will want to make sure to maintain good air movement to help prevent orchid disease from setting in.

Dendrobium Nobile- fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small. Requirements
When Den-Nobile orchids are in full growth they should be fertilized regularly. It is important to never fertilize an orchid that is completely dry, because doing so can cause major damage to the roots.

Dendrobium Nobile-Potting Requirements
Den-Nobile orchids should be repotted every year and a half to two years or once the canes have begun to overgrow the pot or the potting medium remains soggy and no longer drains properly. Only repot the orchid after it has bloomed. Before repotting always trim away the damaged roots with a sterile cutting tool. Den-Nobile orchids can be divided as long as they have 7 or 8 canes. If you were to divide a plant with less than that it would stunt the growth of each division.

DENDROBIUM PHALAENOPSIS (Den-Phal)

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Water Requirements
A Dendrobium Phalaenopsis orchid should be watered in the morning using tepid water. The watering schedule for a Den-Phal can greatly depend on the type of pot the orchid is planted in, the temperature, and also the time of year. As a rule of thumb, you will want to water more frequently during the warmer months and less frequently in the cooler months. While the Den-Phal is in active growth the roots and potting medium should be kept moist (water approximately once a week), but can be allowed to dry between watering once it is no longer in active growth.

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Light Requirements
As covered in this article about orchids care and light, Dendrobium Phalaenopsis orchids thrive with medium light conditions. A great inside location to place your Den-Phal on an eastern facing windowsill. If you have a shaded southern facing windowsill this will also work.

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Temperature Requirements
As discussed in this orchid plant care article on temperature, the temperature requirements for Den-Phal orchids are daytime temperatures somewhere between 75°F to 85°F (23.8°C to 29.4°C) and night temperatures between 60°F and 65°F (15.6°C to 18.3°C). Den-Phals will do best when there is a 15°F to 20°F (8.3°C to 11.1°C) difference between day and night temperatures. Remember, with higher temperatures you will have to maintain higher humidity conditions, more air movement, as well as more frequent waterings.

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Humidity Requirements
The ideal humidity range to grow your Dendrobium Phalaenopsis is 50-60% humidity. If you need to increase the humidity around your orchids growing environment you can place the orchid on top of a humidity tray or place a humidifier nearby. Remember to have adequate air movement for your orchids by opening a window and letting in the breeze or by placing an oscillating fan nearby.

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis- fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small. Requirements

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis’ need to be fertilized regularly when they are in active growth. Fertilizing every two to three weeks during the summer months and once a month in the winter should suffice.

Dendrobium Phalaenopsis-Potting Requirements

Den-Phals should be repotted in a medium-grade mix every two years or once the potting medium remains soggy and no longer drains properly. Before repotting, you should always remove all of the old potting medium and trim away the damaged roots with a sterile cutting tool. Den-Phals tend to grow better in smaller size pots where they fit snugly, however, once the canes start to overgrow the pot–it’s time to repot. Den-Phals can be divided once the orchid has bloomed and new growth is starting to show. Each division needs at least three canes/growths per division. And that just about covers the basics!