Dendrobium Cultural Notes

Pronounced: [den – droe – bee – um]

Den. Gillian Leaney ‘Profusion Rosea’


Preferred climate depends on the species. Austalian native Dendrobiums are perfectly adapted for cultivation in Australia. Some grow best in the tropics, others prefer cool to sub-tropical. Most prefer dappled sunlight, some tolerate full sun. None like cold wet winters, so a shade house with a Laserlite type roof will keep your plants cosy without a wet root system. The newer ‘Hot/Cold’ Dendrobiums can be grown in Tasmania as long as they are grown under a solid roof and away from the edges of the shade cloth for protection from our cold winds and any frost. These Dendrobiums have larger blooms in most cases as they have been bred with Dendrobium biggibum the Cooktown Orchid, which has larger and more colourful blooms. Tasmania has one native, Dendrobium striolatum, which grows on our East coast on the granite rocks.

Propagation:   Most Dendrobiums are easily divided and some even produce aerial growths called keikis, which you can gently remove from the cane of the mother plant when the root system has developed. Take care that the plant is steady in the pot and stake if necessary for stability.


Potting Mix:  Many Dendrobiums can be grown on slabs of bark, in old tree stumps, on rocks or on whatever takes your fancy. If growing in pots, your mix must be free draining with the size of the bark determined by the size of the plant and the pot. Coarser bark for large plants, Finer bark mix for 100mm or less sized pots. 

Watering: Most Dendrobiums need regular watering during the warmer months, but go extremely easy with the water during a cold winter. Take great care to protect from frosts. With plants from tropical areas, remember they come from wet/dry seasons, so be extra careful in the colder periods.

Fertilizing:  Feed fortnightly with a complete fertilizer from Spring through to Summer. You can also use slow release fertilizers like pelleted chicken manure or any 3 to 4 month evenly balanced nutrient granules.

Flowering:  Most dendrobiums flower from late Autumn through to late Spring in Hobart and surrounds. Many flower when they are good and ready.

Problems: Most of our Australian Natives are extremely hardy and have limited problems in Tasmania. Watch out for the dreaded aphids when they are spiking until flowering. Always keep your plants free of leaf debris and ensure that the old flower stems are cut back once the blooms have finished. This makes it so much easier for next season’s flowering and presentation at Shows. Also, do watch out for scale infestations and treat with White Oil where necessary.