All Things Dendrobium

And you thought you knew dendrobiumsDendrobium specialist Leonard Gines was on hand at the Kona Daifukuji Orchid Club monthly meeting on April 9 to discuss all things dendrobium.

Dendrobium is a huge genus or orchids, containing about 1,200 species. Gines began his talk by explaining this wide range, and that although there are obvious differences, some things stay the same.

“There are many different types of dendrobiums, so you really have to generalize,” Gines said. “Some like hot, some like warm, some like cool.

“However, fertilizing and cutting back is almost always the same.”

dendrobiums are well suited for outdoor growing, especially when planted in an old hapu stumpDendrobiums have evolved to deal with wet and dry seasons, so in winter, cut back on watering and fertilizing. Gines lives in Hilo, and because they get so much rain in the winter, Gines said that’s when he brings all his plants into the greenhouse, so he can monitor their water and cut it back. Otherwise they may not bloom.

Gines also discussed how well adapted hybrid vigor dendrobiums have become here. Hybrid vigor is when two rather temperamental species can, when crossed, produce a vigorous and easily grown hybrid. As well as growing more quickly, hybrids often flower earlier and more freely and are more tolerant of less than ideal conditions.

“Hybrid vigor hybrids have the best of both words,” Gines said. “Like people you see here, the best of this and the best of that, creating the most beautiful children you could imagine, and ones that are perfectly suited for this climate and region.”

As far as media, Gines said he likes to use large bark.

“Orchids like moisture, but they also want air,” Gines said. “Roots need to breath.”

Gines said sphagnum moss is also very good, but is easier to over-water because it doesn’t dry out as well. He pointed out that a good solution for this is to use baskets or pots with many holes.

“Hapu, especially the hapu here in Hawaii, is one of best places to mount dendrobiums,” Gines said. “Although you can often make it work on just about any tree.”

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