The Dendrobium loddigesii is a miniature orchid that displays spectacular pink flowers with a showy yellow shield and a fringed lip. The single-flowered inflorescences are found growing from nodes of leafless cane stems and give off an intoxicating fragrance.
Normally found in cool forests of Asian countries, orchid growers have slowly started to cultivate this exotic species into flowering houseplants that thrive outside their native jungle habitat. Find out how to grow one yourself in this article.
Described in 1887 by Robert Allen Rolfe, the Dendrobium loddigesii goes by other names, such as Loddiges’ Dendrobium, Callista loddigesii, Dendrobium pulchellum, and Dendrobium seidelianum.
Since the Dendrobium loddigesii is a miniature orchid plant that grows in the cool coniferous forests, it has evolved into a small but quick-growing orchid species that can range from 4 inches to 7 inches in height. When grown in ideal conditions, the Dendrobium loddigesii quickly grows into a large specimen plant, but no more than a few inches bigger than the average.
The small plant has a slightly creeping growth habit, which allows many orchid collectors to display them in large groupings to maximize their growing needs while showcasing their massive flower display during the blooming season.
The tiny Dendrobium loddigesii orchid grows stems that are 3 to 6 inches in length with fleshy oblong leaves that range from 1.5 to 2.5 inches. The white, sheathed stems that display these alternating leaves are often tufted, pendant, and multiple-noded.
The white roots of the Dendrobium loddigesii are fine and surprisingly long for their miniature size. The orchid’s roots have adapted to become epiphytic and lithophytic root systems. This means the roots are suited to absorb water from the air and surrounding rocks. The plant’s plump roots also soak up valuable nutrients from nearby decomposing matter.
Like other epiphytic plants, the Dendrobium loddigesii’s roots appreciate moisture but not constant wetness. You should exercise particular care in ensuring that the roots retain the appropriate amount of water but do not become water-logged to avoid root rot. On the opposite side, wrinkled roots indicate dehydration, and frequent misting or watering, together with a quick-draining substrate, may be more suitable.
Dendrobium Loddigesii’s Flowers
The flowering period of the Dendrobium loddigesii ranges from February through June. Long-lasting fragrant blooms can be found on single flower inflorescences on leafless stems that shoot up from multiple nodes. The flower size is approximately 3 inches and is quite large in proportion to the orchid plant as a whole.
The flowers are pinkish-purple, with a yellow shield and an outer purple lip. When the plants are in bloom, a massive carpet of lavender-colored flowers with golden accents delights all observers. The flowers give off a sweet floral fragrance that keeps many orchid lovers entranced.
The Dendrobium loddigesii is native to the cool coniferous forests of tropical Vietnam, the landlocked Laos, as well as the Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, and Yunnan. They are usually found at high altitudes, in cool forests where the climate is humid, with decaying layers of moss, bark, and other decomposing organic matter.
Dendrobium Loddigesii Care
Despite being an exotic jungle orchid, the Dendrobium loddigesii is surprisingly tough. Growing in cool humid forests has prepared the orchid to grow in bright filtered light, using the frequent rain during the wet seasons to grow optimally.
In cultivation, this orchid grows well with high air moisture and strong air movement, coupled with bright indirect sunlight. This combination may quickly produce plants that grow to be larger specimens.
The care for Dendrobium loddigesii can be quite specific, but not necessarily challenging, as long as its basic needs are satisfied. Growers in temperate regions are more fortunate, as this plant is a native of cooler habitats compared to its tropical cousins.
– Light Requirements
Bright filtered lighting provides the Dendrobium loddigesii with the perfect amount of light for photosynthesis in the wild. However, in cultivation, the orchid plant prefers a light level of 20,000 to 30,000 lux. Filtered diffused lighting is the most ideal condition, although some growers find that their Dendrobium loddigesii also grows well in shaded areas. Moderate to low lighting is recommended to avoid leaf burn when the plant is exposed to direct sunlight.
– Water Requirements
The Dendrobium loddigesii is happiest when it is frequently watered during its active growing period in the warmer months, from spring to autumn. New growth frequently emerges during this phase. Frequent misting and watering encourage them to grow and multiply. During the colder season, from autumn to winter, watering should be reduced enough to keep the roots moist but not wet or soggy.
Being used to the cool forests of Asia, the Dendrobium loddigesii requires lower temperatures compared to its tropical relatives. The orchid enjoys temperatures of 75 to 77 F in the daytime summer, while at night it prefers a slightly cooler 68 F.
Hot summer weather tends to disturb the Dendrobium loddigesii, as the heat can scorch and parch its leaves and roots, especially when the plant is directly exposed to heat and sun. The orchid can tolerate 52 to 57 F in the colder months of winter. Make sure to avoid any drastic or sudden temperature changes that may cause freeze burns.
The Dendrobium loddigesii has a creeping growth habit, sometimes with a preference as a hanging plant. Due to its specific growth habits, rootstock mounts are one of the best ways to display these fragrantly showy orchids.
Some growers place their Dendrobium loddigesii in clay pots with quick-drying substrates. Substrate mixes that are ideal for this particular orchid are fibrous peat, coarse grit, perlite, charcoal, tree bark, and sphagnum moss. When using pots, as with any orchid, it is best to use clay pots with drainage holes.
Epiphytic plants like the Dendrobium loddigesii also prefer to be placed in rootstocks or potted containers with ample room for growth, since they can sometimes multiply rapidly under the most ideal conditions.
Avid growers and collectors are advised to use medium-sized mounts or shallow, medium-sized pots for this purpose. It is best to repot Dendrobium loddigesii plants when they have outgrown their rootstock slabs and clay pot containers.
Being air plants, the Dendrobium loddigesii absorbs water through the air moisture content of its environment. Humidity for this orchid is quite critical to prevent it from drying out. The Dendrobium loddigesii thrives happily in humidity levels of 80 percent. Although in the fall and winter months, it requires a lesser level, around 70 percent.
The Dendrobium loddigesii prefers a weekly diluted dose of a quarter to a half-strength of most recommended orchid fertilizers. During its active growth period, from spring to mid-summer, these orchids enjoy fertilizers that are high in nitrogen. These can be used weekly to promote healthy growth.
Fertilizers may come in different forms, such as water-soluble ones that are also quick-releasing. There are also temperature-controlled fertilizers that are slow-releasing. Some organic fertilizers even include fish emulsion.
Growers are advised to read fertilizer instructions carefully and apply sparingly in the initial applications to prevent fertilizer shock or burns. During the colder winter months, fertilizers are ideally stopped or reduced to extremely diluted solutions.
– Rest Period
The winter months are when the Dendrobium loddigesii takes a much-needed rest. The colder temperatures allow the orchids a respite from the active growth and flowering period. At the same time, this rest period prepares them for the next flowering season.
During the resting period, the Dendrobium loddigesii should still be watered. Watering should be reduced in frequency and amount to prevent root rot due to excess water. In general, as the temperature goes lower, the watering needs of the orchid proportionally lowers as well.
Staying on the drier side rewards Dendrobium loddigesii growers with masses of fragrant flowers in the spring.
The Cultivation of Dendrobium Loddigesii
The Dendrobium loddigesii culture and care can be particularly interesting for orchid growers as this is one of the few species that require a cooler environment. Some growers have tried to propagate these orchids using Dendrobium loddigesii seeds. Unfortunately, viable results are quite insignificant through this method.
With low yields and uncertain viability due to the difficult conditions in growing orchids from seed, collectors prefer to use other methods. Proven propagation techniques, such as tissue culture and plant division, provide higher propagation yields and better viability outcomes.
The Dendrobium loddigesii is one of the most intriguing orchids that come from Asia. The flower’s striking colors of purple and pinks with yellow accents make it a showy orchid. Furthermore, the blooms are larger in proportion to this plant. Let’s go over what we’ve discovered so far about this beautifully bold dwarf orchid.
- The Dendrobium loddigesii is a miniature orchid plant with a creeping growth habit.
- The orchid produces colorful, fragrant, and single-flowered inflorescences.
- Dendrobium loddigesii orchid plants prefer cooler temperatures with frequent watering, high humidity, bright filtered light, and highly permeable substrates and bark mounts.
- The most popular method of propagation is through plant division.
With a little care and the correct information, orchid lovers and growers will find that growing the Dendrobium loddigesii orchid is easier than expected. Despite its seemingly challenging reputation, these magical miniatures surprisingly flourish and flower even for those living in colder regions!
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