Gerry Walsh. The Rock Lily Man

The following article has been extracted from articles written by Gerry Walsh. The Rock Lily Man. 



 Gerry lives in the Blue Mountains, 60 minutes drive to the west of old Sydney Town, NSW Australia. Previously he lived at Llandilo in the Nepean region of Sydney. He moved up to the Blue Mts in December of 2014.

Gerry has been an ANOS native orchid judge with 30 years experience, his knowledge and experience  with Den. speciosums cannot be faulted.

Click on the following link to read his Aims.

Thank you Gerry for allowing us to share your articles and knowledge with our subscribers.

Gerry does a lot of bush work, I found this photo in his article on var grandiflorum. Just imagine coming across these fellows in the bush. I am not very good at snake identification, but they look like red bellied blacks, ready strike, they are extremely poisonous.


The following article has been extracted from an article written by Gerry Walsh. The Rock Lily Man.

It is only extracts from his full article and contains minor changes made by Orchid Den.

For the full unedited version click on the following link.

D. speciosum, in all of its forms, is pretty easy to grow. For successful flowerings, you must have strong light all year. As strong as you can provide without the sun actually damaging your plants. If your plants are not flowering, low light levels will most probably be the problem. If your plants are housed between your garage and the six foot high side fence, you probably will not have enough light to form flowering eyes between the leaves of the new growths. Without eyes you cannot have flowers. D. speciosum, in all of its forms, is pretty easy to grow. 

Potting Media

You simply cannot grow good speciosums unless they have terrific and healthy root systems. And you cannot have healthy root systems if your plant is left in the same potting mix over a long period.Do not allow your orchids to share their pot with weeds, Elk Horns, Birds Nest Ferns, Hares Foot Ferns and Rock Velvet Fern (Pyrosia sp). If left under these conditions rot will set in. New bulbs will not develop or will start rotting before they mature. The plants will become magnets to all sorts of pests and diseases.

The potting media and your watering regime go hand in hand with the selection of your pot size and shape. These three factors will govern whether or not you will be successful long term. And this may take you a while to work out using trial and error. There are no shortcuts.

If you are a new grower you will need to know a couple of things. If you are strolling through Bunnings or the local supermarket and you see a bag of something labelled ORCHID POTTING MIX, please run for your life. 99 times out of a hundred this mix will be made for exotic Cymbidium Orchids. It is totally inappropriate for use with D. speciosum. You need to look for coarse or medium grade ORCHID BARK. This can be surprisingly hard to locate. Your best bet will always be to find a specialist orchid nursery. Even then, they often sell out and have no stock. Orchid bark is graded and composted pine bark. Going down to the Landscape Supplies Yard and getting a box trailer full of uncomposted pine bark is not the way to go. Untreated pine bark has harsh toxins and phenols in it that will slow root growth. Some really good Orchid Bark is further treated with chemical additives that get rid of all these unwanted components of the pine bark. 

Orchid Bark comes in four sizes usually: Small, Medium, large and Coarse. What you use depends on a couple of important points. Mostly, the size of the plant you want to pot on.If you have ended up with a leading piece with three or more thick pseudobulbs then you need a large pot and a coarse grade bark.For smaller plants use a medium to large Bark.  


Pot size is hard to explain. If you are potting on advanced seedlings into a 100mm or 150mm pot, then a good rule of thumb is to put it into a pot that is only twice as big as the plant in width. But not much deeper than the pot it came out of. In this example you should be using medium size bark. Not the coarse grade that would have too much air between the bark pieces. Never stick a plant from a 100mm pot straight into a 250mm pot or bigger. It will just sit there. Consequently, it will take an extra few years to start growing along the way it should. Your object is to have your mix stay damp and humid, not to have it stay wet and smelly. Never sit your pot in a saucer. Wet roots are the greatest mistake you can make with D. speciosum.


Now, the most important bit. Yes, I am giving up my secret weapon! I learnt this lesson the hardest way possible. I was, for a couple of decades, the laziest grower of D. speciosum you could imagine, I was always pretty happy with my results during this time, but I never seemed to get my best plants into the best show condition. It took eons to realise what my problem was.

Two things eventually dawned on me.


This is a species that produces big heavy bulbs in the main, and it cannot do that without the building blocks of life . . . FOOD!

D. speciosum needs plenty of food in the form of fertiliser. Not just a spray with something once or twice a year, but a continuous regime of well balanced fertilising. 

For three years now I have been committing the following feeding plan. I stick a handful of organic “stuff” in each pot. This may be blood and bone, dynamic chook pellets, or anything else with a bit of body that will not wash away through the bark at the next watering. I repeat this application when I can no longer see any of it left in the pots, but I use something different every other time. Never the same thing twice in a row. I have also started putting a cupful of long term Osmocote in the pots as well. I simply do not have time to mix up great amounts of water-soluble fertiliser on a weekly basis. In my case, that would be an all day job. However, once every six weeks or so, I make the time to do it, just because I turned over a new leaf a few years back and intend sticking with it. So Osmocote is letting out a little bit of oomph each time I water. 


Eventually in my life, I started to hear rumours that there was a thing called pH. I listened to experts and read articles that I had skipped over for years. I worked out that my sodden, composted pine-bark\soil must have been pure sulphuric acid in the main. These days I have started to throw lime at the plants with great abandon. Others do it and so far I have not seen it causing any problems. I have never heard of soils or orchid bark turning alkaline, they only ever go acidic. Lime swings the pH back towards the good zone. The other reason I now broadcast lime about the pots and the floor of the bush house is simple indeed. It gives me great pleasure to watch slugs and garlic snails racing around with their little bums on fire. Lime actually takes care of a lot of these pesky varmints that will feast on your racemes next season. It also has the effect of keeping a lot of fungal problems under control.


You must do it when the time is right. Your instincts will tell you when that time is right. I have no intention of explaining how to repot your D. speciosums. Every plant will be different. And it is the type of activity that has to be demonstrated. Most orchid groups have demonstrations about repotting. I suggest that these would be the best way to learn about it. Once you see one demonstration you will have a skill for life.


Leopards have them, dendrobium beetles have them, I had them when I was a teenager. And speciosums get spots too. And the older a speciosum gets then the more spots it gets on its leaves. Spots are just a part of speciosums growing old. Part of their life cycle if you like. No plant lives for ever and as they age, spots will start to invade.

Spots are mainly environmental, If you get spots on new bulbs and leaves there can be many reasons for it, spots are mainly environmental, any insect at all can be responsible, watch out for scale and aphids etc. Everyone knows the deal with those pests. Just keep all this in your mind and stay alert. You cannot get lazy about diligence!

Don't let spots worry you too much. They are a natural part of the life cycle of a speciosum. Or any living plant really. If it is the younger, just matured growths which get spots and holes in them, then you better start an investigation quick smart. Something may be wrong. Once again the likely culprits will be insects and/or excessive watering or rain. In winter time in Sydney you should not be watering your larger established speciosums more than once a week. Even then, only in the mornings after the sun comes up. Never in the late afternoon at all, in winter at least. 


Orchid Den Sells and recommends the following products for growing speciosums


Orchid Den's Vanda and Speciosum Mix is ideal for your large speciosums. The mix is made from course - 25mm to 35mm Kiwi radiata pine bark. The bark is hard and does not readily retain moisture. It also includes large hardwood charcoal. Charcoal absorbs toxins, keeping the Bark sweeter, assisting in extending the life of the Bark


18-25mm Orchiata Bark is a large bark not as hard as the Kiwi Bark, will absorb moisture more easily. Does not contain charcoal


Does not contain charcoal

Hardwood charcoal. The large size is the best size for speciosums

The following articles on speciosum varieties have been extracted from an articles written by Gerry Walsh. The Rock Lily Man.It is only extracts from his full articles and contains minor changes made by Orchid Den.For the full unedited version click on the following link.


There are nine  different species varieties of speciosums. 

variety blackdownense 

variety boreale

variety capricornicum

variety carnarvonense

variety curvicaule 

variety grandiflorum

variety hillii 

variety pedunculatum 

variety speciosum

Their distribution is in pockets along the East coast of Australia.

map provided by the courtesy of Gerry Walsh. The Rock Lily man

Variety blackdownense

This variety is restricted to the Blackdown Tableland, an isolated mesa-like, sandstone plateau about half way between Emerald and Rockhampton, and a fraction south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Blackdown is about ten kms wide and 30 kms long. See Distribution Map. Var. blackdownensemay extend further to the south and west, into the non-accessible Expedition Range.

Possibly the most attractive member of the speciosum family.   var. blackdownense has its own characteristics, and these make it distinct from other varieties. It's flowers are not usually bigger than 50 mms, but overall they seem to average out at about 40 mms. They tend to be as wide as they are deep. The labellum is quite long for the size of the flower and the markings thereon are strong and very well defined, the  colour is pretty constant across the Tableland. Normal colour is  would be best called a strong cream verging on light yellow. Occasional specimens displayed some intensely strong yellows and golds.

variety boreale

speciosum var.boreale is distributed from the mountains just west of Townsville, Queensland, northwards to roughly the Big Tableland which is just south west or Cooktown. Mt Elliot and The Pinnacles region in the south are the southern limit but it may well be that var. boreale extends south of these known regions. From the Bruce Highway, a series of high peaks extend southwards from Townsville and there may very well be isolated pockets about these peaks. Var. boreale can be found from nearly sea level to over a thousand metres altitude and westwards to the Mt Windsor Tableland. 

 It is a variety with extremely variable physical characteristics. Some are short and stumpy while others are thin and weedy. Others are as fattened, some are so long and lanky they could be confused with var. hillii. T

Flowers are white in the main but light cream/yellow will occasionally be seen. They are not particularly large, but they may reach 30 mms across and up and down. Often they are smaller.   The roundness of the blooms and the lovely imagery of the white flowers make var. boreale quite desirable.

var. boreale

variety capricornicum

Restricted to an area around 50 kms east to west and maybe 100 kms north to south. The distribution is centred around the Tropic of Capricorn in central Qld. 

Variety capricornicum is, in a nutshell, uncommon simply because available rocky habitat, expansive enough to be safe from bushfires, is in itself quite hard to come by. It does not grow on trees so far as I am aware. 

Variety capricornicum is variable in growth forms. Flowering sized pseudobulbs can be as little as 150 mms long. At the time of description, around the mid 70s, it was thought that this was a diminutive form in the vane of var. pedunculatum. But I have seen them up to 300 mms in the wild. In cultivation, under the spell of a good grower, it will make 350 mms. They tend not to have thick bulbs.The leaves are where var. capricornicum plants are more easily recognised. When considered in relation to the pseudobulb, the leaves are undersized for any variety of D. speciosum. When you stand back and look at a specimen plant, this aspect will be readily seen. Some times the appearance is quite odd, with the leaves looking as if they should adorn a half grown seedling instead of an adult flowering specimen. As well, the leaves are quite brittle as a rule and if you attempt to bend them very much at all they will simply snap or split.

Floral Characteristics: The first thing to comment on regards the flowers of var. capricornicum concerns the flowering season. Under bush house conditions, you are likely to see fully open racemes any time from April through to September. I would assume that this same feature would occur with wild populations as well. Even as I write this piece now in mid November 2012, I have a plant in advanced bud in the bush house. It will be open by the end of this month. No one can say for certain why var. capricornicum has a haphazard attitude to its flowering season. There is nearly always a capricornicum blooming in my bush house right through winter. There is something of a peak during the spring however. Shape is mostly unremarkable but I have one or two that are vastly superior to the typical shape. One I call White Caps is just brilliant. There is also the well-known Big Boy clone, which has a HCC award and is truly a good form. Colour ranges from pale yellow which is very uncommon, to off-white to pure white. I have one plant that is a total albino, the only one I have heard of. This one will get special attention in my breeding plans over the years to come.Raceme length is also surprising. These can be very long; a shade over 2 feet or 600 mms. These look outlandish when seen on the typical shortish canes of var. capricornicum. The flowers can be either typically arranged or quite widely spaced out, but never crammed onto the raceme.

 Variety capricornicum is not well known in cultivation.  In the wild, it is subject to quite dry conditions and heat. It does not seem to grow in shady areas at all, just sun-baked rock face in the main. Medium grade bark and less watering then you would give to other varieties seems to give me better results with var. capricornicum.Light plays a big role also. If you give var. capricornicum too much shade it is much less likely to bloom for you. The stronger the light the better your flowering will be. Very strong light is the best way to go. Almost full sun. Variety capricornicum is worth cultivating simply because it is a bit quirky and has a widely extended flowering season, giving you a splash of colour when there is no other speciosums around.

Variety capricornicum “Big Boy” HCC/OSNSW

variety carnarvonense

Restricted to a small area of the Central Highlands of Queensland known as Carnarvon Gorge. The gorge sits 300 kms or so inland of the coast, and just south of the Tropic of Capricorn.  Although it is a considerable distance inland, it is still on the coastal watershed of the Great Dividing Range. 

There are really no distinguishing characteristics that make var. carnarvonense stand out from other varieties. Pseudobulbs reach a maximum length of around 30 cms to the first leaf. Leaves are indistinguishable from other varieties. New growths tend to have a purple pigment. This pigmentation disappears when growths mature. Bulbs are roundish in cross-section, not ovoid.I have noticed a tendency for var. carnarvonense to have eyes along the nodes of the pseudobulb to a much higher level than normal. Occasional new growths will appear from eyes at equal distance between the roots and the leaves. Many tend to have untidy habits, with new growths appearing more like aerials from any node/eye along the pseudobulb. This leads to a clinging habit, rather than a clumping habit. In the bush house this habit tends to disappear with the years.

Floral Characteristics:  You would not be growing var. carnarvonense if you were chasing award winning D. speciosum. Flower colour is fairly similar right across the board, basically off-white, not really cream, certainly not pure white, and never yellow. Shape is generally spindly, often unsymmetrical and unimpressive. Size is OK, they are not small, and flowers to 50mm are not uncommon. Raceme habit is acceptable enough and nice arching spikes with plenty of blooms can be expected. The peduncle is short and racemes will occasionally be up around 400 mms. 

var. carnarvonense

variety curvicaule

Dendrobium speciosum variety curvicaule is found from just around the small town of Clairview, midway between Rockhampton and Mackay, then northwards to about Mt Dryander between Proserpine and Airlie Beach. From east to west it stretches from the coast to the Eungella Plateau. This covers some 200 kms by 70 kms.  To the west, south and the north of its distribution, it is flanked by areas of dryness and inhospitable country in which no types of D. speciosum are found. This has prevented var. curvicaule from crossing over with other varieties. Within its range however, it is an abundant orchid.Var. curvicaule occurs from virtually sea level, just north of Mackay, up to at least 1000m in the Clark Range, better known as Eungella, some 80kms inland from Mackay. It colonises both rock face and trees but is more predominant on trees, simply because its range contains some of the most extensive regions of suitable rainforest in Australia. 

Vegetative Characteristics: The pseudobulbs can be enormous in both length and thickness, up to 850mm long to the first leaf and just as thick as your wrist. They are also ellipsoid in cross section. That means they are egg-shaped if you cut a cane in half.  A cane may be have as little as two leaves, very often three but only rarely will it have four.

These leaves are very thick and leathery and don’t like to be bent too much or they may snap.  Another aspect of the leaves on wild plants is the abundance of lichen and mossy type growth that occurs on the leaf surface. It does carry over to the bush house and may linger forever. This growth is often circular in shape and growers will sometimes get quite concerned until they are reassured that it’s not a viral plague!  var. curvicaule does not have aerial roots. There are only two varieties of D. speciosum that do have aerial roots. These are of course var. hillii and var. grandiflorum. 

Floral Characteristics:Variety curvicaule is very easy to pick by the shape of the flower and the habit of raceme. Flowers are best described as “chunky”.  They have a stumpy and broad labellum which is easy to spot once you have a bit of experience with all the attributes of the other varieties. No others are even close to the shape of the var. curvicaule labellum.Habit of raceme is also quite different to all the other varieties. In the general sense, the racemes are probably best described as “foxtails”. This means that the blooms are generally arranged in a tight kind of a bunch, and mostly lined up in beautiful rows like little soldiers staring out at you, to get poetic about it.Size of the blooms is usually around 35 to 50 mms; not large by speciosum standards but the general chunky appearance gives them a very solid look. Colour is most likely to be a light cream but everything from just off pure white through to light yellow will be seen. 

General Comments:Variety curvicaule is the major player in what are termed as man-made intervarietal plants. The aspects that it brings into speciosum breeding include shape and habit of raceme in the main. 

There are a lot of superior forms across the whole distribution of var. cuvicaule.  the average var. curvicaule plant is pretty damned good, var. curvicaule is always a joy to behold.

Var. curvicaule “Fab”

variety grandiflorum

Distribution:In the south, the dividing line between var. hillii and var. grandiflorum is indistinct and blurred. This cross-over in the distribution can vaguely be described as occurring in a line from the Bunya Mts, (between Dalby and Kingaroy) to the vicinity of Gympie (100kms north of Brisbane). The line is not a thin one and can be up to 30 or 40 kms deep.  Yellow is a colour that does not occur in var. hillii. Whites do not occur in var. grandilflorums (extremely rare anyway, I have seen 2).

Characteristics:Broadly speaking, var. grandiflorum is quite similar in appearance to var. hillii. They each have aerial roots and they are the only varieties of D. speciosum to do so. 

Floral Characteristics:Now we come to the real identifying characteristics that separate var. hillii from var. grandiflorum. Where hillii blooms rarely exceed 25mm, grandiflorum would rarely be that small. Blooms over 80mm deep, and occasionally reaching over 100mms, are quite common and can be either very heavy and robust or thinner and feathery, looking.  Colour is generally mid yellow to dark yellow, then all the way through to gold tones. Colour deepens as the blooms age. They are at their deepest when the flowers are verging on going off.

General Comments: A lot of enthusiasts consider var. grandiflorum to be the most attractive variety of Den. speciosum. I wonder why? Perhaps it is the colour, which is nearly always some shade of yellow and often intense yellow to gold. Perhaps it is the flower size, which can be called big. Maybe it is the length of the raceme which can be up to 750 mms and as wide as 150 mm in diameter through the flowers from side to side. 

To sum up: var. grandiflorum is just plain gaudy and pretentious.A bad habit of var. grandiflorum is leg crossing; the lateral sepals are quite subject to crossing completely over and totally destroying the good looks of a specimen.

Var. grandiflorum is equally at home on tree or rock. It just loves old man hoop pines but a whole variety of other hosts will suffice. I have seen it on the non-shedding fibrous trunk of Eucalyptus species in open forest. In tall rainforest it is completely at home on any of the giant Flindersia species. That is, the more typical huge buttressed tree species of the rainforest. As a general rule, plants from the north of the distribution are much more impressive from the horticultural point of view. They frequently have heavy texture, as well as much superior shape. Southern plants of var. grandiflorum are often the equal in depth of colour and some even superior in brightness, if not darkness of colour.I have never seen a single specimen that could hold a flag to the northern forms when it comes to shape and substance and texture. Size can be equally large but the southerners are inevitably feathery. 

var grandiflorum growing naturally

variety hillii

Variety hillii starts its journey from around the town of Buladelah, 200 kms north of Sydney. This spot is also the end of the line northwards for var. speciosum, the southern neighbour of var. hillii. Although the two varieties end up quite close to each other, intermingling of the genes is not easily detected. In the vast Barrington Tops region to the west of Buladelah, var. hillii is the only form present. At the northern limit of var. hillii, in the vicinity of Nambour 100 kms north of Brisbane Qld, this variety does overlap with its northern neighbour, var. grandiflorum. 

var. hillii is a commonly encountered orchid.Var. hillii does not seem to cross to the western side of the Great Divide. Vegetative Characteristics:Variety hillii is rather easy to identify, even when not flowering. The pseudobulbs are much on the skinny side and invariably long and tapered, up to a full metre to the first leaf. Aerial roots are usually very dominating. In some cases, the whole plant can become almost buried by the mass of upright roots. Even young seedlings develop the aerial root habit once they reach three or four years old. When it happens to grow on rock the aerial roots seem to abate to a large degree but remain none the less obvious.In the granite country around the NSW-QLD border, there is a different looking form of var. hillii. This is cold country at around 1000ms altitude. Mostly it is snow gum country. But here var. hillii occurs on large granite boulders and they look for all the world like typical var. speciosum plants from southern NSW. The pseudobulbs loose the typical var. hillii form altogether. The aerial roots have disappeared as well. Around these parts var. hillii does not take to the trees. In the very deep gorges that run away from the ranges, it takes to the trees again with aerial roots and remains the typical var. hillii form. The difference between the two granite denizens is the altitude they live at. Often they will only be a few hundred metres apart . . . but that measurement is in metres of altitude.

Floral Characteristics: It is in the flowers that var. hillii sets itself apart from the other eight varieties of D. speciosum. If any of the varieties deserve splitting off into species in their own right then var. hillii is a lay down misere as they say. Racemes have no trouble growing to 600 mms in length and can be upright or quite pendulous. But it is the sheer number of flowers that adorn the raceme that impresses. There can be up to 400 or more blooms on a single, robust raceme. The flowers themselves rarely exceed 25 mms from top to bottom. However, they really pack on to the raceme. Some forms manage to space themselves out just right and present very nicely. Others are so crowded that they actually overlap each other and will not open widely. Once again the forms from the granite belt country on the state border are different to the norm. Up there the flowers are slightly larger and quite sparse on the raceme. This granite country form really is different in most regards. !Var. hillii flowers are virtually always white. Some are a dirty white and a few may be a very pale cream. Two or three very rare albinos are known. But there are no known yellow forms to my knowledge.

 General Comments: Poor old var. hillii . . . nobody loves it. Very few serious speciosum growers bother with it. 

 Var. hillii will grow on rocks as well but nowhere near as rampantly as the others. There are many thousands of them in the trees of every creek and gully and river catchment over the whole of the range. It is truly a spectacular sight to see the trees turn white with them in the spring.  Var. hillii is very commonly found on the ground this way. Tonnes can be seen rotting away at times; quite literally. The really big stronghold for it is the upper reaches of our big river systems, but at low to moderate altitudes. This is not an orchid that climbs to the top of the ranges, although it will at times. It is not very coastal either, but it is possible to see it like that. It prefers low to moderate altitudes a fair way inland. Find a She Oak lined river or creek, beyond the last farm, and you are in prime country to see var. hillii. There are parts of the Barrington Tops where many individual She Oaks support tonnes of var. hillii. And I am not exageratting with the word tonnes. It is like this all the way to Queensland. 

Variety hillii

variety pedunculatum

Variety pedunculatum is relatively restricted in distribution. It exists at the western edge of the realm of its more expansive neighbour, variety boreale . . . It inhabits a north to south distance of around 100 kms but only has an east to west span of about 20 kms as a rough average. All of this strip existence happens on the western watershed of the Atherton Tableland. The central point of this distribution is roughly west of Atherton and Herberton townships. 

Vegetative Characteristics:  It is a dwarf form of D. speciosum. Bulb size varies tremendously but even the more robust ones are still dwarfed to a degree. At its smallest size, var. pedunculatum could be mature and capable of flowering when only as large as the thumb of woman. At other locations, some bulbs will occasionally be seen approaching the size of a large cucumber. I have seen bulbs around 250 mms long and 40 mms wide. This is exceptional however. The size is no doubt related to the nutrient supply combined with available moisture.Plants growing on the bottom of higher rock walls and cliffs perform better because of the catchment that traps leaf litter (food) and water and releases it over longer time spans. A plant that has taken root on the top of a rock will be struggling to attain any size. This is not shattering new knowledge by any means. But it is particularly relevant in the case of var. pedunculatum.Because of the influence of the tropical wet and dry seasons, var. pedunculatum will need to survive with no rain at all for months on end. Combine this with its already hostile environment, even when times are good, and you can see why this variety has dwarfed itself.No doubt in an effort to conserve meagre water supplies through the dry season, var. pedunculatum has evolved thickish leaves that are quite upright. Being upright no doubt reduces the exposure to the sun and conserves moisture in the thick leaves, which are also quite dwarfed. Moisture is squirreled away in other words. Bending the leaf of a wild plant will lead to it snapping in no uncertain way. Leaves and bulbs on plants in exposed sunny spots often have purple to maroon colouration. In the case of var. pedunculatum this is therefore a common phenomenon. 

Floral Characteristics: Variety pedunculatum is so named because its raceme sports a very long peduncle. The peduncle is that part of the flowering stem between the leaf axil and the first flower up the stem.  The peduncle on var. pedunculatum varies from a half to two thirds of the raceme. In other words, just over half of the raceme will have no flowers at all. Raceme length will vary according to seasons and conditions, but they can be up around 750 mms. On the typical plant in the bush however, the length is likely to be less than 400 mms and as short as 200 mms. The racemes are frequently upright but occasionally gently arching but never pendulous.Flower colour is nearly always an off white or cream variation. Light yellow is also seen. But some wonderful deep yellow colours turn up from time to time. Blooms are close to circular in shape if you imagine a circle drawn around the outside tips of the segments. Size will vary but once again this is highly dependent on the conditions at the time of flowering. Maximum size is perhaps 30 mms but commonly less.

General Comments:, When grown in cultivation, it actually demands something more traditional . . . and it responds well to kinder treatment. The bulbs will fatten up and grow longer, and the leaves will soften up to a degree and more or less take on the appearance of a more civilised speciosum.It is actually nearly impossible to grow var. pedunculatum the way it grows in the wild. You would have to put in on a rock under a gum tree and hardly water the thing at all. It should always be remembered that var. pedunculatum chooses to grow where it does, in seemingly inhospitable environs just a km or two away from rainforests and wet creeks with plenty of rock face to support it. But there is no var. pedunculatum there! It does not like it like that soft, lazy stuff. It wants to live in the harsh country and that is what it does.


variety pedunculatum

Var speciosum

From Cann River in Victoria to the vicinity of Buladelah in central coastal NSW.  Today its southern limit appears to be in the vicinity of Mallacoota and Genoa, around 30kms south of the NSW border. In Victoria it occurs at quite low altitude, often near salt water, but extending to mossy forest at low altitude behind the coast. In the north of its range it can occur as high as 900 metres altitude.From the Victoria border it occurs continuously eastwards of the Great Dividing Range, right down to the coast, and northwards to Alum Mountain at Buladelah, which is situated around 200kms north of Sydney. From Buladelah it travels due west to the sandstone country around the Munghorne Gap Region to the north of Mudgee. From the Rylstone district to Munghorne it is actually growing on the western watershed of the Great Divide, one of only three places in the whole length of its range where D. speciosum does so. The other two are var. carnarvonense at Carnarvon Gorge in Central Queensland and var. pedunculatum 3000kms to the north, and just to the west of the Atherton Tableland. 

Vegetative Characteristics:Mature pseudobulbs can be as short as 150 mms with only 2 leaves when growing in hostile environs. In high rainfall areas with heaps of leaf litter, pseudobulbs can reach 750 mms before the first leaf, with a diameter of 65 mms, and nearly round in cross-section. Leaves on these big ones can be 300 mms long and 80 mms wide. Leaves number up to five usually but rarely there can be six. Occasional plants occurring epiphytically on trees are mostly, but not always, more slender and longer in pseudobulb length. Clumps growing in good conditions can be huge, occasionally as expansive as a family car. Such clumps may be the product of generations of seedlings. 

Floral Characteristics:  Racemes have short peduncles. The peduncle is the part of the raceme between the leaf axil and the first flower. Mostly the bottom flowers are not clear of the leaves. Racemes can be either short in country without much leaf litter, or very long when in ideal conditions. There may be up to a hundred flowers on a really long raceme.Flower size is extremely variable from small, say 30 mms, up to 95 mms. Anything over 75 mms is very rare. Flowers can be very heavily textured and widely opening or thin and not very open. The flowers can be arranged in rows or haphazardly on the raceme, crowded or quite sparsely distributed. They can be pure white, with extremely rare albinos known, through all shades of off white, ivory, bone to cream, to strong yellows. 

General Comments: This is the good old form that most growers know  as the NSW Rock Lily.  99% of plants grow on rocks and rock faces and cliffs. The other 1% crop up on trees, mostly in the Illawarra, but other places as well. It is not restricted to sandstone by any means. Any rock substrate will do if the factors var. speciosum demands are present. Aerial roots are virtually unknown. Flowers can open any time from late August to mid October depending on local conditions. Coastal forms will be earlier than inland forms as a reliable rule. Some years are absolute boom years with vast numbers of racemes everywhere. Other years are complete duds and hardly a flower will be found.  My flowering is usually at a peak in the second and third weeks of September. Var. speciosum is arguably the nicest form, horticulturally speaking, of all the varieties. Without a doubt the two best-known cultivars are Windermere and National White.

Slimline pots are the most common pots used by professional nurseries. Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

Slimline pots are the most common pots used by professional nurseries. Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

Slimline pots are the most common pots used by professional nurseries. Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

Slimline pots are the most common pots used by professional nurseries. Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

Orchid Den prefers the use of open or web pots. Providing better drainage and allow the roots to easily get outside of the pot.

This product contains mycorrhiza

Orchid Den has combined Plant of Health's Root Extender with Diatomaceous Earth.What is root extender?Root Extender is 100% natural. It contains blended mycorrhiza and other beneficial live fungal spores. Mycorrhiza is essential to the germination and the growth of Orchid Plants.Root Extender - Benefits.Encourages root development – Ideal for potted plants.Root attaching fungal filaments that protect roots and increase moisture and nutrient access to plants.Improved soil structureLarger root network.

Just sprinkle a little on the roots when repotting.


Balanced fertiliser N10: P10: K10:

100% Organic fertiliser. 

Always use Organic fertiliser, no chemical residue, in your pots or in the environment

Contains Silica for plant strength. with an added benefit of a PH>11. The high PH level will aid in the reduction of any acidic build up in the potting Mix.

 BENEFITS -- Easy, convenient application, fast uptake -- Improves Growth, Flowering, Fruit count, -- Improves leaf presentation, colour and shelf life. Raises brix levels. -- Makes plants physically tougher – tough plants are more resistant to pest and fungal attack -- Reduced transplant and wilting loss -- Reduced frost and heat damage -- Reduced damage from soil toxins and salinity


Regular spraying with Neem Spray will provide protection for your plant against environmental damage, such as spotting. The use of Neem Spray is an essential part of the program for growing rich, green, healthy plants that are pest and disease resistant.

Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth (DE) on your plants, in and around your pots for protection against crawling insects, such as snails, slugs, caterpillars and cockroaches.

At the same time providing silica for your plants. 

Plant Assist is a cost effective product that can be used on all plants, natives, tubes, turf, in pots, or in the ground.

Use when repotting and after repotting all year round


 Helps create ideal root establishment environment

 Ideal for potting mixes or soil when planting.

 Retains moisture.

 May reduce transplant shock.

 Will not burn roots.

 Safe for Native plants.

 Ideal for re-veg plant outs & tube stock

 Organic compounds assists root development

 Contains beneficial microbes & fungi

An excellent slow release fertiliser. Ideal for Orchids, it will not burn the roots. The use of other slow release fertilsers (inc Osmocote) may cause root damage due to burning.

 It combines high quality natural and biological ingredients: blood and bone, natural lime and gypsum, soft rock phosphate, fish protein, silica, zeolite, neem and trace minerals. Organic Link is enhanced with mycorrhizal fungi and Trichoderma fungi to boost plant growth, health and disease resistance. Mycorrhizal fungi and Trichoderma fungi are beneficial soil organisms that form partnerships with plant roots, enhancing nutrient and water uptake and providing protection against soil-borne diseases. 

MBP-1 is a natural probiotic, technology developed over 25 years around the world. The micro organisms in MBP -1 are known to produce bio-active substances, vitamins, hormones, enzymes, amino acids and antibiotics which may help plant nutrients, enrich and detoxify soils.

Var. speciosum “Windermere”

var. speciosum "Awesome"

Var. speciosum “My Prayer”

Once again, thank you to Gerry Walsh "The Rock Lily Man"for allowing us to share his articles with our subscribers.

Click on the following link to go to his web site, for the full articles and a lot more information on this wonderful orchid. Den. speciosum