Help with neglected orchid, please

oakirisMay 28, 2011

Good morning all. I have a few orchids, mostly easy to grow, wonderfully blooming Phalaenopsis cultivars. I also have the orchid pictured here that hasn't bloomed since I got it (probably 3 or 4 years ago) and looks a bit worse for wear. I think it is a dendrobium cultivar; it has been so long since it bloomed that I can't remember the color of the blooms and the plant tag is long gone. From Neglected Orchid - Dendrobium?? From Neglected Orchid - Dendrobium?? From Neglected Orchid - Dendrobium??

As you can see, it has been long neglected with what appears to be a whole to plant hanging off the edge of the pot on one side. I am sure it hasn't bloomed since I got it (when it was blooming beautifully of course) because I fail to give it whatever conditions it needs to bloom. Not know exactly what sort of dendrobium it is doesn't help of course.

Will repotting it help? Should I cut off the plant hanging off the side and pot it separately? Do I remove the stems that just stick out of the medium and never leaf out? Should I just toss it and stick to my orchids-for-newbies Moth Orchids?

Hope someone here can help someone who obviously doesn't have a clue. :-O


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richardol(Santa Royale CA)

It looks pretty healthy to me. What it lacks is light. The light level needed for a hard-cane Dendrobium to bloom is much higher than a Phal. A south window behind a white nylon sheer would do the trick.

It could use re-potting, but that is not what is keeping it from blooming. The sidecar plant is separate so you could remove it and pot it separately.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 1:26PM
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Thank you for your response, Richard.

My house is somewhat limited window-wise (no south facing windows in the house itself.) I have been keeping the orchids in my sun room which has primarily eastern exposure and some very limited southern exposure - limited due to a large tree which blocks most of the southern light. It has been getting direct eastern exposure sunlight in there; I will move it to the small southern side of the sun room to see if that helps. I could give it southern exposure by taking it outside for the spring and summer. It would get the full brunt of intense Colorado sunlight. Maybe I could set up a little screen of white sheer cloth around it....I'll have to see what I can do. It would be nice if I could get it to bloom again.

I will at least remove it's side plant and pot it up and then can see about repotting the whole thing. As an epiphytic orchid, does it need all of it's roots stuck in the pot or is it happier with some waving about in the air? (The air can get pretty arid here in Colorado though.)


    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 2:17PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

I agree with Richard. It does need repotting and tidying up but not repotting it a larger pot as they do better in a slightly pot bound condition.

Maybe some staking would help in the tidy up process.

It might have been on the way to flowering anyway once the new growths matured in Autumn, so do the tidy up and move it to a spot with just a bit more light and see what happens. Do not put it outside!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 6:36PM
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Arthur, why not outside?? I put all my dends out and gradually move them to full sun. They would never flower if I kept them in. They limp through winter and I move them out as soon as the nights warm up.

I agree to repot (not bigger pot), remove the keikis and I would move the plant outside. Increase light gradually so you don't burn the plant. You should get flowers this fall/winter.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 9:35PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Just guessing that Outside in Colorado in summer might not provide good growing conditions for Hard-Cane Dens.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 10:11PM
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I will repot it, then, using the same pot, or at least the same size pot, remove the daughter plant and pot it up separately, and try to give both plants more light.

Just guessing that Outside in Colorado in summer might not provide good growing conditions for Hard-Cane Dens.

Colorado summers in the Denver metro area where I live, average in the 70's and 80's (F,) and it is usually very dry (of course, it is arid inside the house, too, so I don't know that that will make a difference) and the sun is very intense (as it is all year round.) If I put the orchid outside, I would definitely make sure it only got morning sunlight.

Then there are the occasional hail storms...I actually did put some of my orchids outside one summer in some dappled shade and there was some hail damage, but at least one of non-Phalaenopsis orchids bloomed quite nicely that summer and hasn't done so since, so putting them all outside again does rather appeal to me!

Is it the dryness to which you are referring, Arthur, when you recommend not placing the plant outside, or some other aspect of summers here?


    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 11:25AM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

You say you keep your plants in a sun room with eastern exposure. How close to the glass is the plant? Light drops dramatically for every inch back from the glass. Dendrobiums can take lots of light. The plant should be as close to the glass as you can get it without burning the leaves. Feel the leaves. If they're warm, move the plant back an inch or so. If not, move them closer an inch or so. Keep moving the plant until you think it's right.

Outside with a few hours of early morning sun or dappled afternoon light would be ideal. As Jane also says,. expose the plant slowly.

When you repot, as Jane says, pot up the keiki but don't remove any of the leafless canes as they can bloom again. They also provide nourishment for the plant.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 3:25PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Holly, the key words in my sentence were "just quessing".... just looked up current Denver weather and it said Temp 20C Wind west, Humidity 15%.

Warm growing Hard-Cane Dendrobium Heavens. Hawaii, Cairns NE Australia. and various other tropical places.
and here is the current weather for Cairns 21C Humidity 64%. Max forecast to be 26C

I like the hard-canes but it is a struggle to grow them here, even in a glass-house.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 8:04PM
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I re-potted the orchids - ended up with three plants as there were two in the pot, totally separate, and the keiki. I will move them a bit closer to the window and then see about getting them outside, hardening them off gradually, as advised.

Arthur - yes, the humidity here, or lack there of, leaves a lot to be desired. Although May was one of the wettest months on record, with almost 5" of rain, that is unusual. All of Colorado taken in consideration , our yearly average rainfall is about 13" - Denver metro area gets a bit more, averaging almost 15" - so the climate is certainly semi-arid, not ideal orchid growing country!

Thank you all for your help; if any of my Dendrobiums manage to bloom, perhaps I will post a picture or two. Even though they are no doubt quite common to the collectors here, I will consider it an accomplishment!


    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 11:28AM
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