Dendrobium: care and varieties

Dendrobium: care and varieties


Dendrobia belong to the orchid family and are very diverse with around 1600 different species. Like most orchids, dendrobias originally come primarily from tropical habitats in Southeast Asia from India to the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. However, some species have also adapted to dry, cooler regions, for example in the high altitudes of the Himalayan mountains or inland Australia.

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The species that are preferably cultivated as ornamental plants in Central Europe are mainly hybrid species such as the grape orchid Dendrobium nobile or the Dendrobium bigibbum. These species are ideally suited for the domestic window sill culture with cool wintering.


Typically, most of the dendrobial species are epiphytes - so they grow in their original areas of origin preferably on trees, occasionally also on rock. They cling to their host plant with numerous aerial roots - or to the substrate in the tub - and grow to a height of only a few centimeters or up to a meter, depending on the species. The grape orchid Dendrobium nobile reaches around 30 to 45 centimeters.

Dendrobia also belong to the sympodial orchids that form so-called pseudobulbs. These club-like or spindle-like thickening shoot axes serve the plant as a water and nutrient store

To note:

  • Dendrobia are epiphytes - they originally grow on trees
  • In this country cultivated hybrids about 30-45 cm high
  • form sympodial pseudobulbs to store nutrients and water


The leaves of Dendrobien usually have a typical orchid-like, oval to lanceolate shape and a leathery-fleshy consistency. They start alternately on the stem and are medium green in color. At the end of the growing season, the leaves are shed.


The most important part of dendrobia for the ornamental gardener is of course the flower. This is particularly rich in this type of orchid. The many individual flowers unfold both on the sides and at the ends of the biennial, non-leafy pseudobulbs, so that a whole, panicle-like flower rod results. They sit on short stalks in the leaf axils. The morphology of the dendrobial flowers differs depending on the species, but as a rule they are typical for orchids with three sepals, two petals and a lip-like, sixth petal.

A Dendrobium orchid can develop around 20 to 50 individual flowers, which often smell very pleasant.

The flower characteristics at a glance:

  • Appear in large numbers completely along the previous year's pseudobulbs
  • thereby form a lush panicle
  • The morphology of the single flowers is orchid-like
  • often very pleasant scent

When is the flowering time?

The lush bloom of the Dendrobium orchid arises in the growing season between spring and autumn. If the ambient temperature is not too warm, the flowers will keep for a pleasantly long time, around 3 to 6 weeks.

Which location is suitable?

Dendrobia need a bright location, but should not be exposed to direct sunlight. You can also put them outside in summer, but it is best to place them under a light roof on the terrace or balcony. The Denrdobia orchid should also be bright in winter.

With the temperature, however, a seasonal change is required. The plant should be kept warm over the summer, preferably from 20 ° C upwards. During the winter rest phase, it is necessary to cool down, not only because of the vegetative break, but also so that the change to warm temperatures in spring induces abundant flowering. The temperature in the winter quarters should be between 10 and 17 ° C.

The location requirements in brief:

  • warm and bright in summer
  • cool and bright in winter
  • Protect from direct sunlight

What soil does the plant need?

As an epiphyte, the Dendrobium orchid prefers a loose bark substrate to which it can hold onto with its aerial roots and which guarantees enough air and light. But you can also put them in a substrate made of orchid soil. Here, however, you should definitely work in an effective drainage layer and ensure good drainage, for example through a convex pottery shard above the lower pot hole. So that new shoots have room to grow, it is best to place the orchid in the pot so that the older shoots are on the outside.


Only repot a Dendrobium orchid when it is absolutely necessary, i.e. when it is visibly too tight in the pot or the substrate is simply too old and is starting to be too modern. In general, however, the plant copes very well with confining its base. Accordingly, do not choose a much larger pot for moving. The right time for repotting is spring when the orchid starts to develop new pseudobulbs. But repotting is also possible until autumn. In winter, however, you should leave the plant alone.

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Water dendrobium

You should water the dendrobium orchid daily from spring until the pseudobulbs have fully developed. Be careful not to give too much water at once, so that the substrate can always dry out completely in between. If there is too much water, the aerial roots can easily rot, the bulbs die and the leaves shed.

Use water that is as low in lime as possible, possibly from the rain barrel. When the pseudobulbs are mature, you can fully perform their water storage function, so that you no longer necessarily have to water as often.

As a tropical plant, the Dendrobium orchid also likes one or the other fine mist spray.

The casting practice at a glance

  • Water the bulbs daily from spring during the training phase
  • Pay careful attention to the measure - always allow the substrate to dry off between watering
  • use water with little lime

Fertilize dendrobium properly

You can fertilize the Dendrobium orchid moderately during the vegetation phase. You should keep intervals of about two to three weeks - the nutritional requirements of dendrobia are rather low. Use a low concentration liquid fertilizer. From autumn onwards, you should taper off fertilizing - in winter, fertilising at most is very sparing, if at all.

Properly cut dendrobium

A pruning is not necessary with Dendrobien. You don't have to cut off old leaves either; they either fall off by themselves or can be carefully plucked off. If it bothers you, you can remove an old, withered shoot with scissors.

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Dendrobium propagate


Dendrobia are child-forming plants - this almost answers the question of the method of propagation. The Kindel form on the shoot eyes of the pseudobulbs, occasionally also from the stalks of the flowers. You should let the Kindel grow on the mother plant for as long as possible so that they can accumulate enough strength of their own and develop roots about 5 cm in length. It is best to let it ripen for a whole year. The condition of the bulb also shows that a detachment and an independent life for the child is possible: when it turns yellow and begins to dry out, it has completed its task and the child is ripe.

However, you should only separate it from the mother plant if it can be done easily. To do this, try to turn it carefully. If the child does not come off easily, cut it off with a piece of bulb and put it in its own planter with orchid soil.

It often takes about a year for the young plant to bloom for the first time.


Dendrobia can also be multiplied by dividing rhizomes. However, the Kindel propagation is preferable to this method. If you cut off a piece of the rhizome, make sure that the piece has at least 4 pseudobulbs. Place the section in a planter with ordchid soil and keep it evenly but sparingly moist. After sprouting, you continue to care for the plant appropriately. When it's big enough, put it in a round mulching substrate.


One receives offshoots from Dendrobien in the form of Kindel. How to take them from the mother plant and attract them, read in the section “Propagate”.

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As with orchids in general, dendrobia are somewhat susceptible to any parasite that is attracted to dry conditions. These include mainly spider mites and mealybugs.

Spider mites

You can spot spider mites with the naked eye. The suckling animals have a body length of about 0.3 to 0.8 millimeters and can have a reddish to orange or yellowish green color. They reveal themselves even more clearly through their fine webs with which you cover the infected plant. The females lay their larvae on the underside of the leaves.

If your dendrobial orchid is infested with spider mites, you can first tackle the parasite with water: rinse the plant with a strong jet of water. This will wash away most of the mites. It is then advisable to enclose the entire orchid under a foil bag. In the humid, poor climate, the pests usually die within a week.


Mealybugs are even larger than spider mites and excrete a waxy substance on the infested plant, which they cover in woolly bulbs. This is also how they are easy to recognize. The lice suckle on almost all parts of the orchid and greatly weaken them. So take control measures as soon as possible.

First of all, you should remove the infected parts of the plant. If possible, isolate the orchid from your other indoor plants. You can then apply a spray treatment made from a mixture of water, alcohol and curd soap. 15 ml of alcohol and curd soap should be added to one liter of water. Repeat the spray regimen regularly for about 2 to 3 days.


The best way to prevent both spider mites and mealybugs is by not exposing the dendrobial orchid to very dry heating air. Especially in the heating season you should spray them regularly with the water disperser. Generally good care also makes the plant less susceptible.

Dendrobium does not bloom

If you wait in vain for your dendrobial orchid to bloom, you have most likely left it too warm to overwinter. In order to produce a flower, the plant needs a temperature stimulus - you can provide it by hibernating it in a cool place and placing it in a warm place from spring. The temperature in winter quarters should be around 15 ° C - when moving to summer quarters it should rise to at least 20 ° C.

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If you want to extend the flowering time of your Dendrobium orchid, place it a little colder again immediately after the first flowers have opened, but not below 15 ° C. This will induce a more sustained flower presence.


* Dendrobium nobile *:

This cultivated form is a hybrid and one of the most common among the dendrobias. And it is also one of the most popular variants among ornamental orchids in general. With its large, artistic flowers it is not only a particularly beautiful ornament, but also comparatively easy to care for, so that it is also suitable for orchid beginners.

The flowers of the Dendrobium nobile show themselves in the typical, zygomorphic orchid manner with an artfully curved lip petal above the sepals and petals. With their multi-colored tint in white and purple to pink, they offer a very decorative sight. The flowers can appear in the very early spring from February or in late spring to early summer. A second flowering can usually be induced by a renewed resting phase at cooler temperatures.

The Dendrobium nobile needs an orchid substrate made of bark mulch that is as loose as possible and should be watered sparingly, but sprayed all the more with water. The variety is between 10 and 70 centimeters high.

* Dendrobium bigibbum *:

This hybrid is also quite common and delights with its rich flower pile of purple to pink or, more rarely, bluish flowers. With a height between 20 and 80 centimeters, the Dendrobium bigibbum is a little higher than the D. nobile. It forms cylindrical pseudobulbs on each of which 3 to 5 green, sometimes violet leaves and between March and June up to 20 individual flowers attach. The flower shape is morphologically structured like that of D. Nobile.

The D. bigibbum likes a very bright location and should only be watered minimally. In terms of ambient temperature, she likes it a little cooler.

* Dendrobium amabile *:

This flowering variety has relatively flat, open flowers with a rather impressive size of 4 to 5 cm in diameter. With their porcelain white color and yolk yellow center, they are a pretty eye-catcher. Since they are also very numerous, very lush panicles of flowers appear on the stems. The flowering time is relatively late between April and August.

The Dendrobium amabile reaches a moderate height of 40 to 50 centimeters. Since it originally comes from altitudes of up to 1200 meters in China and Vietnam, it needs a moderately warm ambient temperature and not too much water. It doesn't need to be sprayed that much. Their light requirement is also rather moderate.

* Dendrobium kingianum *:

This variety delights with its delicate, small flowers in white to pink tones, which appear very late in the growing season between August and October. A moderate number of 2 to 15 individual flowers develop on a panicle. With a total height of the pseudobulbs of only 5 to 30 centimeters, the Dendrobium kingianum is also one of the smaller dendrobias.