Dendrobium Speciosum (Rock Orchid)

What an amazing native orchid. Widespread on the East Coast of Australia as an epiphyte (on trees) or a lithophyte (growing on rocks). Once you have found one growing in the wild and flowering in late August to October you will be constantly looking for more. They can be found in enormous clumps on rocks and cliff faces, often in full sun. The flowers can vary from white to creamy yellow with a white labellum that has purple dots and veins of red and purple. They have an extremely strong perfume first thing in the morning.

This orchid does well when given a little protection from harsh frosts and extreme summer heat. Some of the new hybrids are a little more demanding and may be more water or temperature sensitive.

One of the main drawbacks of growing from seedling is the time it takes to flower, anywhere from 7-15 years. Although it generally has a magnificent display of highly perfumed flowers they will only last about 3 weeks, but on a well-developed plant, multiple racemes means you may be able to enjoy it over a longer period.

They do well in cultivation either on a mount, tied to a tree or in an open mix in a well-drained pot. They are hardy with very tough leaves to handle our harsh conditions. They prefer bright to very bright light to flower with low to medium humidity, but will burn if not protected from the full strength sun in summer.

They need regular fertilising. Use a balanced orchid fertiliser at one-quarter strength and feed with every watering. Protect them from insects and fungus by once a month treatment with systemic insecticide and systemic fungicide.

Reasons for no flowers: after repotting (may miss a year); not enough fertiliser; too much shade; or too young (seedling).