Dendrobium (pronounced den-droh-bee-um) orchids may not be as easy to spot as the other mentioned varieties, but they are ideal for the beginning grower.
These orchids are very similar in flower structure to the cymbidium. However, the dendrobium plant looks distinctly different from most other orchid varieties.
For this type of orchid, the plant seems to be the defining point visually.
The plant has pseudobulbs like the others, though they tend to be long and tubular. These pseudobulbs will continue to grow in height as the plant matures. Like the others, the dendrobium orchid sprouts leaves from the top of the pseudobulbs. When the leaves on the plant die, the pseudobulb grows and a new leaf sprouts. Because of this phenomenon, the pseudobulbs almost look like they have bits of tissue paper wrapped around them at certain intervals. This grown signifies that a leaf was once growing at that spot.
Flowers on the dendrobium are strikingly similar to the cymbidium, though typically they are not as large as those of the cymbidium.
The five petals are arranged in a star shaped pattern, with an enlarged lip at the bottom. However, the dendrobium will have squatter flowers that may have petals that are fuller with sharp points. The lip of the flower will usually have a different color splashed on it. The flowers for dendrobiums don’t really have spikes. They seem to grow straight from the leaves/pseudobulbs with a very short stem. Many dendrobiums are white, though really the color possibilities are endless just as they are with the other varieties.
Though not as common as cymbidium orchids, the dendrobium orchid may also be used for corsage making.
They also make excellent plants for decoration, since they are relatively hardy plants. The pseudobulbs of the dendrobium add support and substance to the plant, making them relatively compact. Vertical space is more important for a dendrobium plant, though that is not true of all orchids such as mini phalaenopsis (though standard phalaenopsis and cymbidiums need a lot of vertical space as well).
© Christa Ickowski