Dendrobium kingianum is a species of orchids native to eastern Australia. It is a common orchid among Australian orchid growers. It belongs to the Orchidaceae family and the Dendrobium genus.
We are here with our growing tips and tricks to help you grow this stunning orchid.
What Is Dendrobium Kingianum?
Dendrobium kingianum or Captain King’s dendrobium comes from Australia. It is also called the Pink rock orchid because it is a lithophyte meaning that it grows well in rocky terrains.
It was first described by John Bidwill. The word ‘kingianum’ was added to honor Admiral Phillip Parker King, Australia’s early navigator and explorer. Some of its common names are Thelychiton kingianus, Pink rock orchid, and Captain King’s dendrobium.
Size and Growth
Dendrobium kingianum is an epiphyte and a lithophyte that lives in the crevices of tree trunks and can also live on the rocks. The stems or pseudobulbs are erect and succulent that serve as water storage organs during dry spells. The pseudobulbs are 2 to 10 inches long and 0.4 to 1 inch wide.
Captain King’s dendrobium has canes like the other dendrobiums, but they are not deciduous.
So they do not have a rest period, and the leaves would not drop during the winter season.
The canes last for quite a few years. It sends out three to four canes every year. Unlike the other deciduous dendrobiums, when Dendrobium kingianum drops all its leaves and looks dead, it most likely is. Trim the dead canes to promote new growth in the plant.
Dendrobium kingianum has thin, spreading leaves. The leaves are green, smooth, and egg-shaped, with the length varying between 1 and 4 inches and a maximum width of 1 inch.
Dendrobium kingianum has blooms that come in various colors. It has up to 15 spikes with pink to purple flowers that bloom from late winter to spring. The flowers are arranged on 3 to 6 inches long racemes. The color of petals may vary from pink to white, purple, and lavender.
The flowers bloom at the end of each cane, and each spike can have many blooms at a time. The flowers are fragrant but do not last that long.
Each flower head can last for a week to 10 days. There are many hybrid varieties available, and you can find many different colored flowers and cane formations.
Dendrobium kingianum does not produce massive roots. The roots do not grow too long, so it prefers a shallow and wide pot rather than a long, narrow pot.
It has spongy, white roots that help in the quick absorption of water from rocks. The roots come out of the base of pseudobulbs.
Dendrobium Kingianum Care: Its Growth Requirements
The Pink rock orchid lives in the jungles in the crevices of rocks and tree trunks. So try to replicate the same conditions in your home while growing this beautiful orchid.
Let us have a look at the growing conditions required to grow and care for Dendrobium kingianum.
Dendrobium kingianum needs a warm, bright, and sunny spot for proper growth. It is not too fussy if grown in the right kind of environment. Like other dendrobiums, the Pink rock orchid needs the winter sun.
But as it starts to get warmer, they do not like the direct afternoon light. Direct sun during the warmer months burns the leaves. A slight red color on the leaves shows that the plant is receiving an adequate amount of light.
So in winter, direct morning sunlight is fine and, in summer, dappled or indirect, filtered light works well for Dendrobium kingianum’s growth.
For outdoor space, space beneath the bigger trees is the perfect spot as the sun is lower in winter and there is a lot of light penetration. When the sun is high in summer, it gets the shade from the tree.
You can also grow Dendrobium kingianum indoors if you can provide the winter chill and direct sunlight during winter. For the rest of the year, filtered light works fine.
As a general rule, Dendrobium kingianum prefers to be on the drier side than on the wetter side. Do not overwater your orchid. While watering, give your orchid a good drench, and then let it dry out.
Water twice a week on an average and increase the watering if the temperature is too high. If they have a dry period for two to three weeks, they are not going to die.
In the wilds of Australia, Dendrobium kingianum grows on the rocks and tree trunks. So this gives you an indication of the type of conditions to replicate if you are growing it at home.
Provide an airy soil mix to your orchid. It enjoys moisture but with proper ventilation in the pot. Its potting medium will be the same as any other orchid, which is a loose and fast-draining medium. Grow it on bark or rock or in a draining mixture of bark and pebbles.
You can use a readymade orchid mix or, alternately, use a mixture of bark pieces and some coconut husk. Add perlite and river rocks to this mixture for aeration.
Like most other dendrobiums, Dendrobium kingianum needs some winter chill to stimulate flowering. But it cannot tolerate cold temperatures and frosty conditions for long.
If you have long, cold, and wet winters in your area, do not risk placing your orchid outside. Consistent cold temperatures can harm the plant’s leaves. In that case, shift the plant to a covered and warmer spot.
In summer, the Pink rock orchid is quite tough and can tolerate temperatures as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit. But protect your orchid from the direct afternoon sun. It can comfortably handle temperatures between 40 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
A winter chill with a temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit is required for good flowering. Glasshouse cultivation may be required in colder climates as it is frost-sensitive.
Dendrobium kingianum grows well in sunny areas with relatively high humidity. But you do not have to worry too much about the humidity levels as it is pretty tough. It can tolerate low humidity levels.
The Pink rock orchid enjoys a humidity level of 50 percent and higher but can tolerate less humidity. It has strong canes that help it to survive in drier climates. If the temperature is too high in your area, mist the plant early in the morning to maintain humidity.
Use a diluted solution of seaweed, generic fertilizer twice a month for full growth. Use a slow-release fertilizer during the spring months to avoid the roots from burning. Avoid using a fertilizer heavy in nitrogen as it leads to the development of more keikis and fewer flowers.
We recommend a phosphorus-rich fertilizer. Do not fertilize during the winter months and resume when spring approaches. A little bit of cool, rest period during winter helps in flowering.
Repotting Dendrobium Kingianum
The Pink rock orchid is a vigorous grower and likes to be root bound. It does not have a large root system. So it does not need frequent repotting. You can leave the orchid as is until the canes are almost bursting out.
Repotting could be done every year or so depending on the soil conditions. It does not like a soggy soil medium. So whenever the soil medium starts to become fine and soggy, repot your orchid.
Take the plant out of the pot very gently. Untangle the roots and get the soil out without disturbing the new root tips. Take a new pot one size bigger than the previous one and ensure that it has enough drainage and ventilation holes. The pot should just be big enough to hold the roots.
It is also easy to propagate. If you are getting keikis, it means that your orchid is not getting enough light and getting too much water.
Dendrobium kingianum is a hardy orchid. But sometimes, aphids and thrips may cause a problem because they attack the spikes and flowers. They suck up the juices from flowers, stems, and leaves which leads to stunted growth.
A severe thrip infestation can kill the plant. It is also attacked by spider mites that attack the leaves. Scarred and brown leaves can be a sign of a spider mite attack. Use a pesticide to get rid of these pests and insects. You can also use soap water or rub alcohol to kill the insects.
Are you still wondering if orchids are the right choice for your home? Orchids can be fussy, but Dendrobium kingianum is an exception. So go ahead and add this tough, forgiving, and fragrant beauty to your home garden.
Summarized below are some important points you need to keep in mind before growing Dendrobium kingianum.
- Dendrobium kingianum, or the pink rock orchid, is an epiphyte and lithophyte native to eastern Australia
- It has fragrant blooms ranging from white to purple
- It prefers morning sunlight during winter and filtered, bright light during summer
- Since it grows as a lithophyte, it does not like to sit in moist soil for long
- Provide a loose and airy soil mix of orchid bark and perlite for proper growth
- It prefers to be watered with a good drench and then left to dry out
- Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot
- It prefers a humidity level of 50 percent and above but can tolerate lower levels
- Mist the plant every morning in summer when temperatures are too high
- Fertilize the orchid with an orchid fertilizer twice a month, except during winter
- Repot it once every year or so to leave enough space for new growth
- Aphids, thrips, and spider mites can cause damage to the orchid; get rid of them by using a pesticide.
Dendrobium kingianum is an easy-to-grow orchid and a great choice if you are looking forward to cultivating orchids. Try and replicate its natural environment, and that should be good enough for its proper development.
We hope that our care guide has helped you get all the necessary information about this hardy orchid species. Go ahead and add this gorgeous orchid to your orchid collection!
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