The cultivation of orchids is considered the supreme discipline even among professional breeders. Some flower divas are truly puzzling and challenge the hobby gardener’s patience. Not so the Dendrobium Nobile orchid. It presents its enchanting flowers on slender stems for many months without requiring extensive care. Although it cultivates an extravagant lifestyle as an epiphyte, the grape orchid has established itself as a fantastically beautiful houseplant. The luscious green, lanceolate leaves, which unfold amidst the racemose inflorescences along the pseudobulbs, ensure opulence. With the help of the following instructions, even beginners can turn care into a sense of achievement.
Table of Contents
- Orchid genus: Dendrobium.
- Name of the species: Dendrobium nobile.
- Native to the tropical rainforests of Asia.
- Growth height 30 cm to 100 cm.
- Special feature: epiphyte.
- Several stems with opposite leaves 10 cm long.
- Leaf shedding occurs at the end of the growing season.
- White, pink or yellow flowers in summer.
- Other designation: grape orchid.
The Dendrobium Nobile is one of the most well-known representatives among more than 1500 species that cavort in this genus. Her beautiful habit has prompted breeders around the world to create a variety of eye-catching hybrids that will make any gardener’s heart beat faster. Around the world, the grape orchid has made it easier for many a beginner to get started.
Conventional potting soil is taboo when cultivating an orchid that acts as an epiphyte in the wild. In its homeland, the Dendrobium Nobile resides in tall trees, clinging to the branches with part of its roots. She does not act as a parasite. Rather, it takes all the nutrients from the air with the help of its aerial roots. Thus, the premises for an adequate substrate are set:
- With an airy structure.
- Water is stored inside.
- A quick drying surface.
- Physically stable enough to support roots.
Understandably, only a special substrate can meet these requirements. Packaged cheap goods from the supermarket are not recommended. It proves to be quite worthwhile to go looking for specialist shops for orchid substrate or to find an experienced breeder. If the high costs are a thorn in your side, mix the soil for the Dendrobium Nobile orchid yourself.
- Organic materials such as pieces of bark, charcoal, wood chips.
- Inorganic materials such as styrofoam and foam.
- Sphagnum, the peat moss from the moss family.
The ultimate material for orchid substrates does not exist. Rather, all substances have their very specific advantages and disadvantages that every gardener should try out. A mixture of styrofoam flakes, charcoal, pieces of bark and wood (e.g. from pine trees, pine trees or fruit trees) has proven to be effective, and often do not even have to be bought. Mixed in equal parts with the hands, they also give off a visually appealing picture. It is important to note that only dried ingredients are used. If in doubt, the wood chips are dried in the oven at 50° for a few hours.
Undoubtedly, the idea of planting the orchid on a branch or piece of wood at home is obvious. Admittedly, this plan is not very practical in the living quarters of Central Europe. Even with the most intensive efforts to bring the humidity to a correspondingly high level, the exposed roots would dry up within a short time. The special substrate prevents such damage. In addition, the visual appearance would be less than desirable. Who likes to have the long hanging roots dangling in front of their nose every day? The exotic grace is much more appealing in a pretty pot on the windowsill.
The grape orchid loves to be caressed by the gentle rays of the sun. On the other hand, she doesn’t want anything to do with intense midday sun.
- A place by the south window with shade at midday is ideal.
- During the day, the orchid feels comfortable at 20° Celsius and higher.
- The night-time temperature must not fall below 10° Celsius.
In addition to the light conditions, the humidity in the room plays an important role in cultivation. In this regard, it is important to find a workable compromise between tropical dimensions of around 90 to 100% and the average values in living spaces of 40%. Water-filled bowls already have a positive effect. A decorative indoor fountain also makes a contribution, as do commercial humidifiers. If the gardener spoils his Dendrobium Nobile every day with lime-free water from the spray bottle, this aspect of care should be completely fulfilled.
At first glance, the water supply seems a little tricky. Since the Dendrobium Nobile only develops aerial roots, wet substrate always carries the risk of rotting. Experienced orchid gardeners avoid the problem by not watering the flower at all, but rather rinsing it with soft, lukewarm water every day. The substrate also receives a minimal dose. Beginners can save themselves this balancing act, because an uncomplicated alternative is available for them:
- Immerse the grape orchid in lukewarm, lime-free water for a few seconds weekly.
- Be careful not to let the substrate materials float away.
- Drain excess water completely and place the flower in its place.
Collected rainwater is perfectly suitable. Where it is not available, soft tap water serves its purpose. In regions where hard water flows out of the tap, hobby gardeners know how to help themselves by mixing it with demineralized water – also known as iron water. Distilled water is less suitable because it has been cleaned of all organic substances and microorganisms.
With regard to the supply of nutrients, the Dendrobium Nobile orchid proves to be far less sensitive than the majority of its conspecifics. However, an experienced gardener will not use conventional flower fertilizer, especially since a wide range of special preparations is available.
- Add liquid fertilizer to the spray water weekly or fortnightly from March to August.
- Moisten the substrate, aerial roots and leaves, avoiding the flowers as much as possible.
The dosage according to the manufacturer’s instructions must be observed. The orchid suffers significantly less damage as a result of an insufficient amount of nutrients than if it is exposed to an overdose. A gardener plays it safe by starting with half of the specified quantity in order to gradually approach the optimal ration.
bring to bloom
The phenomenal blossoms of an orchid are the best reward for all care work. Sometimes, however, the Dendrobium Nobile hesitates a little to unfold its grandiose beauty. However, that is no reason to be discouraged, because the tropical flower can definitely be encouraged to bloom. An orchid must also experience changeable conditions in cultivation, as is the case in the tropical rain forest. This means that wet weather is followed by dry weather and warm weather is followed by cool weather. If flowering is a long time coming, the experienced orchid gardener will then check all the cultivation conditions.
- There is a difference of approx. 5° to 10° Celsius between the day and night temperatures.
- The substrate always dries between watering or spraying.
On the other hand, a constant humidity of more than 50% is maintained, because a dry climate prevents every orchid from flowering. It is worth trying to get the timid grape orchid into the warm, damp bathroom for a while. If it blossoms in this place, the answer has been found.
Once all aspects of care have been checked, the suspicion of over-fertilization comes to the fore. The Dendrobium Nobile was fattened with nutrients. As a result, the ornamental plant becomes lazy and loses its vitality. No fertilizer is used for about 4 weeks so that the excess minerals are broken down. The hobby gardener then resumes the nutrient supply, understandably in a significantly lower concentration.
Provoke a second bloom
If the masterpiece is successful and the Dendrobium Nobile has flowered, it still has potential for another flower before the winter break. At this point, the alternating conditions come into play again, which have a vitalizing effect on the grape orchid. If the grace throws off all the flowers and leaves, the shoots are not prematurely cut. Instead, the plant relocates to a cooler, brighter spot. The amount of water is reduced so that it does not dry out. Fertilization continues, but only once a month. After this respite, there is a good chance that the pretty flowers will appear again.
Whether it bloomed once or twice; when winter is just around the corner, the Dendrobium Nobile orchid enters a dormant phase.
- Set up in a partially shaded to dark location.
- Daytime temperatures range between 16° and 18° Celsius.
- At night the thermometer drops to 10° to 13° Celsius.
- Reduce watering or spraying to a minimum.
- At higher temperatures, fertilize every 4-6 weeks.
This need for cold is unusual even for a Dendrobium orchid. Comparable species of this genus like a warmer winter quarters, such as Dendrobium senile or Dendrobium Phalaenopsis. For this reason, it is important to ask exactly what type it is when purchasing it.
When the hibernation is coming to an end, the orchid gardener takes a close look at his protégé. If the pot seems to constrict the plant, the substrate looks used and calcified, algae are spreading, it’s time for a repot. The new planter should not be much larger than the previous one, because moisture could accumulate in it, causing rot. If it is ready, the work can begin:
- Detach the grape orchid and remove the used substrate.
- Cut off rotten roots, withered leaves and flowers with a sharp knife.
- Insert the flower, placing the oldest shoot on the edge of the pot.
- Twist the roots gently and slide them into the container.
- Fill in the prepared substrate, shake vigorously and press down.
The root area is now briefly immersed in lukewarm rainwater until no more air bubbles rise. As a result, the prudent hobby gardener gives his Dendrobium Nobile some time to recover from the stress of moving and only waters again when the substrate has largely dried.
An uncomplicated method of propagation is by division. For this purpose, the gardener cuts up the grape orchid in the pot. Each section has 3 to 4 pseudobulbs (shoots). Only when the cuts have healed after 4 to 6 weeks does he remove them from the planter. He uses them in special substrate without delay. Until fresh shoots appear, each orchid receives little water and no fertilizer.
Propagation by Kindel is a bit more time-consuming and demanding. These offshoots remain on the mother plant until the bulb (thickened part of the stem) changes color and dries. The child is then cut off along with a small piece of the mother plant and planted in orchid substrate. Ideally, a greenhouse is available for the period of growth, with a humid and warm microclimate.
It dances a little out of line, the pleasingly robust Dendrobium Nobile orchid. For this reason, it is extremely popular with beginners, because it does not require high care. If a special substrate for epiphytes is used and the watering is tailored to the individual way of life of orchids, the culture should succeed. Throughout the winter, she gathers fresh strength at the cool window seat in order to unfold her beauty once again next year. If flowering is a long time coming, the grape orchid often misses the changing climatic conditions that prevail in the tropical rainforest.