Dendrobium Orchids


Updated 3/1/17

Dendrobiums are tall with elongated pseudobulbs (stems) topped by modest sized leaves. Their shoots look like bamboo canes and should not be cut back because even after the leaves fall from the oldest pseudobulbs they continue to provide sustenance to the plant. You should only cut them back, if they are shriveled.

Dendrobiums like to grow in a very small pot, often the pot looks ridiculously small compared to the height of the plant. This presents some problems because they tend to be top-heavy. You can keep them from tipping over by placing them in clay pots. You can also use broken brick, cobblestone or pea gravel in the bottom of the pot to weigh it down. Precise staking of Dendrobiums to make them well-balanced is also critical. I used twist ties and tied them up around a sturdy stake.

These orchids grow quickly throughout summer and normally take a rest during winter. Dormant buds erupt into shoots from the base of the pseudobulb usually in spring. They should be repotted after blooming and sadly they often resent repotting and in extreme cases can be killed if repotted at the wrong time. Dendrobiums prefer to be repotted only as new growth appears.

These orchids are easy to grown indoors but need more light (they need to be in a bright window in your home) then the popular, Phalaenopsis.

Here’s a picture of my Dendrobium that bloomed in January 2012.


Dendrobium Basics

  • Blooms: Winter thru Spring
  • Water: Water thoroughly then allow to dry out briefly between waterings.
  • Light: These orchids like bright light. You can place them near a bright window
  • Temperature: they like a minimum temp of 60 degrees and a maximum of 95
  • Fertilize: I use FEED me
  • New pseudobulbs in the Spring and Summer, rest in the Fall/Winter and Spikes following rest.
  • Natural Cues: Like other orchids they take their bloom cue from the shortening day length in the Fall
  • Repotting: should take place usually every two years, sooner if they are trying to grow outside of their pot.
  • Potting Mixes: I use Dendrobium Imperial Orchid Mix from rePotme.

Hope that helps,


Feel free to leave comments or questions here and you can always email me at with pictures of your orchid.

22 Comments on “Dendrobium Orchids

  1. Hello, I had a question about what seems like mold underneath the leaves of the tallest stalk. Although there is still new growth. Is that normal?

  2. Hello,
    I received a dendrobium a couple of days ago (and have only given it a small amount of water once) as a gift and am new to caring for orchids. The soil has pulled away from the 4 inch round plastic pot it came in, making the orchid lean over due to the lack of being anchored in the pot. I want to replant it (it isn’t in bloom), but am scared that since it is summer, I will kill it.

    • Hi Jamie,

      Dendrobiums tend to do this which is hard. They topple over easy. You can repot it with a sturdier pot but make sure you use a pot that is still small because they like being snug. Also use a Dendrobium mix.

      You can place rocks at the bottom of the pot to help with weight and drainage if you like.


      • Thank you Hannah, your advice really helps. But now my dendrobium is displaying something odd. Just two or three days ago, a couple of leaves started to get brown spots and I’m worried that it’s dying.

  3. Hi Hannah,
    I’ve read pretty much your entire website and I want to commend you, first of all for your very practical advice. My question doesn’t seem to have been addressed here so I’m just going to jump in with it.

    I bought a Dendrobium Nobile at Trader Joe’s a couple of months ago. It was just coming into bloom on two tall bulbs, and it was simply set in it’s plastic orchid pot (drainage on the bottom and sides) in a deep 4 inch standard clay pot (only drainage hole on the bottom.) I left it in the original pot and set it in the otherwise empty clay pot for ballast since it is quite tall and put it in a wide are behind the kitchen sink. The kitchen has a very bright skylight and there is a south facing window about 10 feet away behind the breakfast nook table. Bottom line, it is bright, but not bright enough for this orchid to make a permanent home there. I only put it there to enjoy the blooms until the party was over for the plant. It appears to be in good health and I don’t overwater it. It seemed very happy in the relatively low light and abundant humidity from the various kitchen amenities of high humidity and the ceiling fan.

    My problem is that the potting mix looks nasty. It appears to be completely packed in soggy, worn-out, pitiful-looking sphagnum moss. Since this is now mid-October and it is (predictably shedding leaves) , my original plan was to simply put it outside in my atrium which is on the east side of my house for the winter. It will get cold there, which I have read that it needs, but it will not freeze. It is putting up a new bulb. So after all this explanation, should I repot it first and then put it outside or wait until the weather starts to warm up in February?

    I live in the Mojave Desert. It is MUCH too hot to put any orchids outside except for those that need a winter chill. I do have several wonderful places to grow them inside and my other different varieties are generally doing well.

    What do you suggest?

    • Hi,

      Thank you for the sweet compliment and I would love to help!

      There is ideal times in the year that it’s better to repot but honestly I have repotted orchids year round (especially new ones) and not had a problem.

      If it’s mix is breaking down then it would probably be good to give it fresh new mix. Just make sure you wait till it’s done blooming or the blooms may experience bud blast. Repotting shocks and orchid. Also Dendrobiums often resent being repotted – don’t be surprised if it looks a little sad at first. Also keep it out of sunlight (to rest) for a day or so after you repot it.

      Hope that helps,


      • Thank you, Hannah. I’m not sure if you have ever been to Vegas, but it is VERY dry ( average humidity under 4%) and VERY hot in July and August. I know I’m crazy, but I want to grow orchids anyway. Acting on your advice I will repot this long tall baby before setting it into the atrium for the winter. Orchid cactus, a Hawaiian schefflera, a couple of different jasmines, begonias, a dwarf banana, a gardenia, a cestrum and a couple of allamanda will keep it company. They have all survived in the atrium happily for quite some time. Some other tropicals will be joining them shortly.

  4. Hi Hannah,
    first of all, thank you for a wonderful site.
    I am mailing you a few pictures of my Dendrobium Nobile. It seems nothing is wrong with it, it is blooming for the second time, after a lengthy period of sleeping. It was blooming when I first received it in March of two years ago, and it is blooming again now. Thing is (and this might be more of a curiosity than a problem) – it blooms in summer. This year it started blooming in June and it is still beautiful, I see flowers starting to wither now, but that is probably normal. I left it to its own devices after the first bloom, I am really a newbie so I didn´t feel like cutting back stems or anything. It has quite a lot of aerial roots but I understand that is not necessarily a problem. My question is: should I cut back some of the (sort of shrunken) stems, repot it, or should I leave it; it seems healthy (if bushy =)) enough as it is. It seems to be a bit off-cycle, could that be due to the fact that I live in Denmark and have long, dark winters and short, very light summers ? I water it when I see the need for it, with boiled, lukewarm water and I feed it a very weak orchid-fertilizer once a month.
    I hope you will have a look at my pictures and let me know what to do, this might not really qualify as a problem, seeing it is blooming, but I wouldn´t know, I am a total newbie.


    • Hi Tine,

      I would love to help! And thank you for the sweet compliments.

      1. Your orchid is probably blooming that way because of where you live. It see healthy and I saw the pictures.

      2. The aerial roots can be buried the next time you repot your orchid which I would do once it goes out of bloom.

      3. Watering sounds good but it doesn’t need to be warm water. I use are normal tap water here.

      4. You don’t really want to cut back the stalks of a Dendrobium unless they are dead.

      5. Does your orchid have a drainage hole? It doesn’t seem like it did.


      • Hi Hannah! Thanks for a very fast answer!

        1. I thought so, but just wanted to check it =).

        2. I will repot it after blooming´s done then. It has a little keiki as well, I might try and repot that too. I understand Dendrobiums like a tight pot though ?

        3. I usually flush it, and then dry it thoroughly underneath, so that its roots are not sopping. And yes, it has lots of small drainage holes, it is in a plastic pot now, I will repot in a clear one, so that I can see its roots.

        Thanks again, you have been most helpful!

  5. I have a dendrobium that I got from Mother’s Day last month. My husband ordered it online and now it seems like it’s dying all leaves are turning yellow from bottom to top and I saw some moldy spots in one of the stem I didn’t look all the way through the roots but I am worried… Please help me…. TIA

    • Joyce,

      I would love to help. Is it possible to send me a picture at

      If not we we can try to figure it out here…

      Is it potted in a pot with a drainage hole?

      How do you water it? How much and how often?

      Let me know and hopefully we can figure this out,


  6. What do you have your Dendrobiums potted in? Clay pots or clear plastic ones?

  7. My dendrobium is now down to only one leaf. It has not grown any new leaves in over a year. It is once again flowering. The main plant has two stalks, one has no leaves. The one that is flowering has the one leaf. Is this a sign that the plant is dying or will it ever start growning new leaves?

    • Jim,

      I would love to help!

      Orchids need flowers and roots to produce blooms…so you may be in trouble. Your orchid may indeed be dying and the remaining blooms are all that is left. It is rare for an orchid to loose all of its leaves and still live.

      How long have you had this orchid? And there is only one leaf?

      Can you send me a picture at…if not that is ok.


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