Dendrobium speciosum is a commanding and unforgettable orchid species, especially if you have the fortune to see a specimen plant in bloom. Our Dendrobium speciosum, rather fortunately at the moment, are easily managed plants in 1 and 2 gallon pots. Suffice to say, when you comment that an orchid is still “small” in a 1-2 gallon pot, you are describing a special species.
Dendrobium speciosum is native to most of the eastern seaboard of Australia, with several distinct geographic varieties. We grow four different varieties, plus a few of uncertain or mixed variety. Since we love yellow orchid flowers, Dendrobium speciosum var. grandiflorum is well-represented in our collection.
As you can see in these photographs, the flowers notably darken with age. For the cultivar ‘Aussie Gold,’ upon opening, the flowers are a light yellow and become a much richer gold after about two weeks. A very enjoyable late spring show in our house!
We grow all of our Dendrobium speciosum in pure granite, up to 2 gallon pots. Then we begin mixing hydroton (expanded clay pellets), to maintain a fully inorganic mix, but reduce the weight of the pot. The southern varieties of Dendrobium speciosum (that is, those other than var. capricornum and var. pedunculatum) live outdoors year-round in central California, and only take refuge in the garage when overnight lows are expected to be below 27F (-2.5C) for a few nights. That being said, our plants are on covered shelves adjacent to our house in a highly sheltered area.
Dendrobium speciosum can tolerate quite high sun, but I don’t appreciate the look of “bleached” orchids, so at least 30% shade cloth is used year-round, with additional shading from a deciduous tree in the summer. They grow and flower quite well in our area with 50% shade.
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My vision to create orchid portraits emerged from my appreciation for the “whole orchid.” So many photographs of orchids focus only on the flower. But orchids are not flowers: they are entire plants and living beings. Connect more deeply with the many dimensions of orchids …