December 13, 2010

Dendrobium cuthbertsonii var. semi-alba

Dendrobium cuthbertsonii is, without doubt, the crown jewel of the miniature orchid world.  It is tiny, less than 2 cm tall, and has large colorful flowers that dwarf the plant and that last six to nine months.  The flowers are trumpet shaped, about 2.5 cm long and the same across the open front of the flower.

The species is from New Guinea and comes in many different color varieties, including red, orange, pink, and various bicolor forms.  This particular plant was purchased as a semi-alba variety but is pale yellow rather than white with the typical maroon band around the edge of the lip. 

This species can be quite temperamental and is considered difficult to grow.  I have another plant of the species that has not put out new growth for over a year.  This plant, however, seems to be quite vigorous.  It is grown mounted and with the highest light I can give it, just inches from the HO fluorescent bulbs I use.

The species requires cool temperatures and simply will not do well unless this requirement is met.  It is reputed to hate fertilizer, but in my conditions gets watered with a weak fertilizer solution (a pinch of 10-30-10 in 2 gallons of water) every 2 out of three waterings.

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