Dendrobium is perhaps the most commonly grown orchid in the tropics. Its name comes from the Greek words dendron, meaning "tree", and bios, meaning "life", hence "life on tree", a description of dendrobium being an epiphyte. There are about 1000 species of Dendrobium all over the world. Their habitat ranges from Asia to as far south as New Zealand.

Dendrobium is easy to grow, hardy, and floriferous. Being such a huge genus, it is difficult to generalise the description of Dendrobiums. Their pseudobulbs range from a few centimeters in some species to over a meter in others. The leaves are usually flattened and joined at the base. There are some species that are deciduous. The inflorescence come out either at the end of the stalk or near it.

Dendrobium can be divided into two types: the warm-growing dendrobiums that need lots of water, and the cool-growing deciduous dendrobiums that may need a dry spell to promote flowering. The following are some of the species of Dendrobium.
  • warm-growing type
    • Group Name: Phalaenanthe
      • Dendrobium bigibbum
      • Dendrobium phalaenopsis
      • Dendrobium superbiens
    • Group Name: Ceratobium (aka Spatulata)
      • Dendrobium antennatum
      • Dendrobium canaliculatum
      • Dendrobium discolor
      • Dendrobium lasiathera
      • Dendrobium lineale (aka Dendrobium gouldii, Dendrobium veratrifolium
      • Dendrobium mirbelianum
      • Dendrobium schulleri
      • Dendrobium stratoites
      • Dendrobium taurinum
    • Group Name: Latourea
      • Dendrobium macrophyllum
  • cool-growing type
    • Group Name: Callista
      • Dendrobium farmeri
      • Dendrobium thyrsiflorum
    • Group Name: Eugenanthe
      • Dendrobium anosmum
      • Dendrobium cretaceum
      • Dendrobium fimbriatum
      • Dendrobium fredericksianum
      • Dendrobium pierardii
    • Group Name: Nigrohirsute
      • Dendrobium cruentum
      • Dendrobium dearei
      • Dendrobium sanderae
    • Group Name: Pedilonum
      • Dendrobium bracteosum
      • Dendrobium smillieae
      • Dendrobium purpureum
      • Dendrobium secundum
    • Group Name: Aporum
      • Dendrobium leonis
    • Group Name: Distichophyllum
      • Dendrobium revolutum (uniflorum)
      • Dendrobium crumenatum

Positioning your Dendrobium

Dendrobiums need plenty of light. However keep them away from direct sunlight.


The warm-growing Dendrobiums should be watered sparingly during winter while the cool-growing Dendrobiums require a dormant season, during which they should not be watered at all. Water moderately during summer.


Apply fertiliser once a fortnight when it is growing vigorously.


Use a porous mixture of chopped fern, or beech roots and sphagnum moss in a ratio of 2:1.


Dendrobiums are propagated by division. This is done after the plant has flowered. Make sure there are at least three or four pseudobulbs in each division.

Dendrobium nobileDendrobium nobile
Author: Guérin Nicolas (cc-by-sa-3.0)

Dendrobium aggregatumDendrobium aggregatum
Author: Kenpei (cc-by-sa-3.0)

Dendrobium anosmumDendrobium anosmum
Author: Orchi (cc-by-sa-3.0)

Dendrobium antennatumDendrobium antennatum
Author: Orchi (cc-by-sa-3.0)

Dendrobium capraDendrobium capra
Author: Orchi (cc-by-sa-3.0)

Dendrobium chrysanthumDendrobium chrysanthum
Author: Kenpei (cc-by-sa-3.0)

Dendrobium chrysotoxumDendrobium chrysotoxum
Author: Kenpei (cc-by-sa-3.0)

Dendrobium densiflorumDendrobium densiflorum
Author: Orchi (cc-by-sa-3.0)

Dendrobium farmeriDendrobium farmeri
Author: Amruth (public domain)

Dendrobium macrophyllumDendrobium macrophyllum
Author: Orchi (cc-by-sa-3.0)


  • Hamlyn Encyclopedia of House Plants, by Rob Herwig
  • Orchids of Asia, by Teoh Eng Soon
  • The Macdonald Encyclopedia of Orchids
  • Orchid Growing in the Tropics, by the Orchid Society of South East Asia

 Index of 690 Plants in The Flowering Garden

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