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Purple dendrobium orchids in a garden
This beautiful, exotic plant with thousands of varieties in a huge range of colours will be a magnificent addition to your shady garden, shade house or indoors. Best of all, learning how to grow dendrobium orchids in your garden is easy – just follow these helpful growing tips.

What you need to know about dendrobium orchids

Name: orchid, Phalaenopsis, den, wild orchid, native orchid, Nobile, Dendrobium species.

Height: 5–60cm, depending on variety.

Climate: tropical, sub-tropical, temperate, indoors in all climates.

Soil: well-drained, specialised orchid potting mix.

Position: filtered light, indoors, avoid direct sun. 

Flowering: long central stem with attractive sprays of flowers, some with up to 50 blooms on one stem. 

Feeding: apply orchid fertiliser once a year.

Watering: water weekly in summer; reduce watering in winter.

Appearance and characteristics of dendrobium orchids

There are thousands of orchid varieties that fall under the name dendrobium, from many parts of the world. You’ll even find dendrobiums native to Australia and New Zealand. They are generally evergreen plants with thin, tall stems producing stunning showy flowers. Some have perfumed flowers, some large flowers, some tiny, delicate flowers. These magnificent plants are “epiphytes”, meaning they grow on the surface of other plants and get their water and food from the air, water and plant debris around them. In rainforests in Australia and New Zealand, you’ll see them growing wild on trees or even among rocks.

Purple dendrobium orchids in a garden

Uses for dendrobium orchids

These easy to grow, showy plants are great in the shade house or indoors, and are a great gift in place of cut flowers.

How to plant and grow dendrobium orchids

Give your dendrobium plenty of light, water, fertiliser and humidity. Keep it out of draughts and away from heating vents, and place it so it gets at least six hours of light a day.

Because it doesn’t naturally grow in soil, plant your dendrobium in a good-quality, free-draining orchid potting mix. They love their roots to be crowded into a small pot, so even if they look squashed in, don’t be tempted to re-pot them into a bigger pot to spread the roots out – this may cause the roots stay small and even rot. You can use a spray bottle to mist around your plant, or even a tray of pebbles filled with water to help increase humidity. After you’ve enjoyed the magnificent blooms, cut the stem about 3cm from the base of the stalk so the plant will grow strong roots, bigger leaves and more blooms. Although some will go dormant during winter, keep it watered and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular flowers again next year.

Growing dendrobium orchids from keikis

Dendrobiums produce “babies” (keikis) through nodes on the stem, which can be used for propagation.

  1. Cut keikis at the base after the dendrobium has flowered.
  2. Lay keiki on moist propagating sand or appropriate potting mix.
  3. Allow roots to grow.
  4. Re-pot into pots once roots have formed.

Caring for dendrobium orchids

Check the pot and make sure it’s completely dry before giving your plant a drink. It’s best to water your dendrobium in the morning by sitting the pot in the sink and a running the water through the pot a for a minute, then letting it drain completely. Once a week in summer should be enough, less often when the plant growth slows down in winter. Remember, only water dendrobium when its dry. Dendrobium isn’t a particularly hungry plant, and too much fertiliser isn’t good for it. It will enjoy a feed with a balanced orchid fertiliser that helps promote blooms once a year – just follow the directions on the bag. Give it a top-up when it’s in flower with a weak solution of liquid fertiliser. 

Diseases and pests affecting dendrobium orchids

Because dendrobium likes high humidity, fungal disease can be a problem. Make sure your plant isn’t crowded, has good air circulation around it and that you keep the leaves dry. Some growers even use fans to move the air and prevent problems. If you do find some fungal disease, move the infected plant to improve air circulation and let the foliage dry. If the problem persists, use an organic fungicide. 

Scale, aphids or mealybugs can be a problem. You can squash them with your fingers, gently wash them off, or, if the infestation is large, hit them with the scale gun—always follow the directions on the label. If your dendrobium isn’t flowering, it may be that it isn’t getting enough light, is too cold and draughty, or it may need a boost of fertiliser.

If you like this then try

Moth orchid: easy-care, long-flowering orchid in a range of colours. The perfect gift.

Clumping bamboo: one of the most popular, easy to grow plants in the world. It’ll even grow with no natural sunlight.

Venus flytrap: this extraordinary plant is perfect for indoors and is educational and fun for kids.

Start growing today

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.