Out there in the world are legions of orchid aficionados who are typically possessed of technical knowledge about this plant genus, the most complex and varied of all plant groups. I take one peek in to the details of orchids and get completely lost. But when it comes to orchids suitable for the garden, I can recommend the dendrobiums from Australia. There are many different dendrobium species. Some are tropical and only suitable for glasshouse culture here. But the obliging ‘Aussie dendrobes’, as we refer to them, sit happily in woodland conditions needing no care or attention at all. In early to mid spring, they spark into flower and this pink one has nigh on fifty flower spikes. The flowers are much smaller than cymbidiums and the whole clump only stands 30cm high at the most.
Bardo Rose is the grex name (more or less a collective noun) for all dendrobium hybrids which are falcorostrum x kingianum. We have both those species growing here as well but this pretty pink one is a hybrid between the two. Each flowering spike has 20 or more perfect little orchids which measure about 3cm x 3cm. Other dendrobiums we grow are in pure white (including the aforementioned D. falcorostrum) and shades of yellow.
I do not know if dendrobiums are sold commercially. All ours came from the Orchid Society who are renowned for their generosity. These folk will also be able to advise which ones are fully hardy – and some are. Critical issues in growing these plants include excellent drainage, good light levels but dry in winter so under evergreen trees seems to be a good location.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.