Though most people grow their dendrobium orchids in pots, they're happiest when they're clinging onto something. They're epiphytes after all and have evolved into doing their best on a tree trunk. So if you have a reasonably tall tree with some bare trunk on it, do your dendrobium a favour, tie it onto that trunk and watch your dend take off! They don't even really need any extra medium as other plants need soil.
I have more than a few orchids tied onto almost all the trees in my garden. The coconut trees are fantastic hosts. They're tall with plenty of lovely bare, rough trunk and all the leaves are right on top which means that there's sunlight available when the dends need it, and at noon, the coconut leaves throw enough shade to keep it happy.
Water doesn't accumulate at the roots because it's just bare root against bare trunk. So there are very few chances of rot. Which is something that an orchid grower is always thankful for. And hey! there's no room for pests!
When I'm tying a baby dend. onto a tree, I place a small wad of coir under the roots so that it encourages root growth and gives the dend. something to sink its roots into, so to speak. I usually tie it on with a strip of banana plant fibre onto the tree. The whole idea is that by the time the dend. is big enough to take care of itself, the coir and banana string would have naturally decomposed.
The angle that the dends are fixed to the tree also mean that there's a very aesthetic, graceful curve to the flower spikes.
And of course, its a far better sight to focus on than just bare tree trunk! Especially when its loaded with blooming spikes.
Of course, there are some negatives too. Like, you can't move it around or take it inside (unless it's tied onto a piece of driftwood or log instead of a tree) when it's in bloom... and you want to show it off just a little bit.
And, if it's tied onto a cooconut tree, falling nuts and leaves can chop off various parts of the plant. Also, my local coconut buyer is very reluctant to climb these trees to harvest the nuts. What with me hovering around to see he doesnt harm my 'kids, and him having to manoeuvre around the mounted orchids, I dont really blame him!
Watering can become another issue. Since the roots are exposed, they tend to dry out faster than those in pots. So, in summer I make sure I hose them down liberally and also thoroughly drench the surrounding tree bark. But dendrobiums have a good storage system in their pseudobulbs, so they wont dry up and die overnight for lack of water.
Its not just the dendrobiums, phalaenopsis and oncidium orchids too can be tied on to trees (orchid growers call this "mounting" , as in "the orchid was mounted on a small log"). So far, I've succeeded in growing dendrobiums and oncidiums this way. The phalaenopsis is going to be next.
Oh, and did I mention that this works for epiphytic orchids ? Dont try it on your terrestrial or ground-growing orchids like Spathaglottis, okay? Well, if you have about hundreds of them, you could always experiment in the name of Science but .... there's a reason why they're called Terrestrial, right?
This particular gul mohur tree is home to an oncidium (or, Dancing Girls as they're known locally) as well as to myriad other dendrobiums. Its a perfect complement to my orchids as they each bloom in turn . In summer when the tree is in vibrant colour, my orchids are silent and reserving their strength. Then comes the monsoons, and the winds and rains whiplash all the gulmohur petals off. That's when the orchids come into their own with the rough bark and feathery gulmohur leaves as the perfect backdrop!
(a close-up view of the Dancing Girls)
True, you cant carry them indoors, but they'll make your feet follow them outdoors for sure!
(Almost all these photos were clicked in my non-digital camera days . The photos from my old point-and-shoot were scanned into my computer and then uploaded here. I could have waited to click better photos but I was too impatient. Please bear with me? )