Q What are bamboo orchids?
A There are two types of bamboo orchids (dendrobium) commonly sold, an easy one and another that’s more challenging, but they are seldom labelled! The easier ones flower throughout the year and enjoy warmer temperatures. Flowers are carried on long spikes from the top of their fleshy stems. The trickier sort flower on side-shoots projecting from the sides of the plant's leafy stems.
Caption: Bamboo orchids flower throughout the year
Q Where the best place to put them?
A Place in a very light position, away from direct sunlight to ensure flowering. During the spring and summer keep at a minimum of 18°C by day and 15°C by night. In autumn and winter it'll need a cooler spot, 14°C during the day, 10°C by night. Keep it humid and well-ventilated at all times.
Q How should I water and feed them?
A From March to June, water sparingly until they start to show signs of new growth. Then water weekly and feed fortnightly, using a high-nitrogen fertiliser at half strength until September, then switch to a tomato fertiliser at half strength. From November until February the plant will become dormant. Don’t water or feed until it starts to flower.
Q How do a I repot them?
A These orchids don’t out-grow their container they just need the compost refreshed every two or three years. Do this in the spring. Tip the plant from its pot, tease out all the old compost and roots, then cut off any damaged or decayed roots. Repot in the original container (no larger than 12-15cm across) gently packing fresh compost around its roots. To help re-establishment, water sparingly for six weeks, until it feels firmly rooted. Like phalaenopsis and some cymbidium, bamboo orchids are epiphytes and rely on aerial roots. In the wild, roots are exposed to the light not buried in compost. Conventional pots block light so it's best to use clear plastic ones.