Dendrobium reflexitepalum - my experience so far
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Old 02-12-2019, 04:30 AM
Zindaginha Zindaginha is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 38
Dendrobium reflexitepalum - my experience so far
Default Dendrobium reflexitepalum - my experience so far

Hi alls,

Since in my experience D. reflexitepalum is a less commonly kept species and there isn't much info available on it (on-line, anyway), I thought someone, somewhere might find some use out of a noob like me documenting my experience caring for this species.

Caveats:
I have all of three months experience with orchids under my belt, so certainly not enough time has passed for me to really have succeeded at anything, orchid related. This plant also hasn't bloomed for me so far. As the guy behind Herebutnot.com and Youtube will caution you, beware the advice of strangers on the internet! (One Piece of Orchid-Growing Advice Every Grower Should Follow... >> Here—But Not)
Nonetheless, I offer my observations all the same.

Background info on species: IOSPE says this is a warm to hot-growing species found on the islands of Java and Sumatra from 200 to 1000f. This info hasn't meant a whole lot to me. Or at least, not as much as seeing photos on Instagram of someone growing a MASSIVE specimen on their balcony in Singapore. I have some idea what the conditions on that balcony might be like, and it certainly looked like they favored the plant.

The species is a fall, winter and early spring bloomer. I don't know if my plant's not blooming yet (it is winter), is due to its small size or my care.

My home conditions: I live in Eugene, Oregon. My indoor winter temps are around 65-68F during the day, 60-63 at night. Average RH in my room is 40-45% at this time of year. I have eastern windows in my room and use grow lights.

Me and my plant: I got this plant from Tarzane back around Thanksgving, 2018. Tarzane specializes in miniature orchids. Sure enough, the plant came in a tiny net pot stuck inside a slightly bigger regular plastic pot with drainage holes. There was about a square inch of old fern bark or some other wood (not cork) stuck to the very center of the root system, but the plant had clearly outgrown this.

I of course freaked out when I saw the mass of thin, exposed roots! This is pretty much what prompted me to join this board, btw. I'm too lazy to link to earlier threads asking for (and recieving in abundance) help with this and other orchids. If you search "dendrobium reflexitepalum" you'll find those conversations fast enough.

Anywho, for about a month the plant lived under some very meager lighting on my desk. I had it in a little mason jar (still in the net pot-in-a-pot it came in) for humidity and watered it daily by soaking it in RO water for around 2-5 minutes, then let it drip dry for maybe ten minutes before putting it back in the jar. This was a time-consuming way to go about things, but I actually loved it, because I got to spend so much time with this plant and started to get to know it, so to speak.

Open air, sitting in a jar with daily soaking was a shock to this plant and some of its roots turned brown and are still brown to this day. Even so, it also started putting out new root tips and new leaves from the first week. It has continued to grow quite well for me.

Two months ago, I got a greenhouse shelf-thingy from Target. Basically, it's a wire rack (quite rickety) with a zippered plastic tent. Now, basically, the Dendro gets next to no natural light. It sits directly to the side of two T5 6500k 23 watt lights, hung about 8" above it. The lights currently run 12 hours a day. No more jar, but I do have it (still in the double net pot) sitting on a glazed terra cotta tray.

Humidity: this has varied a lot. With an intact tent, humidity is naturally around 80%, just because I have a bunch of sundew sitting in a tray with water. The Dendro lives next to this. I sometimes run a tiny humidifier and then humidity shoots up to 99% and stays there for hours and hours. Sometimes there is a LOT of condensation and I was initially worried that I'd see more browning of the roots, as with the jar, but so far I haven't noticed anything like this. I think this is because the plant is getting more like, but also maybe because the greenhouse daytime temps are 70-75 degrees. Evening temps drop a little, but not by much.

But I said humidity has varied and that's because the cheap greenhouse tent ripped on me (it might have been my cat) and there was a large gap right up along the side of the zipper. I tried taping it closed a couple of times, but none of the repairs would last. This brought the humidity down to sometimes as low as 50%, more frequently around 60%. Even with the humidifier going. Temps stayed the same. This situation lasted for at least two weeks, but possibly a month. A couple days ago I finally got a replacement and now RH is back to high 90's.

In spite of this, the Reflexitepalum continued to grow and produce lots of juicy green and white root tips.

Its leaves have blushed in the light and--given its growth habit which is characterized by long, kind of stiff/kind of floppy columns of leaves that have a tendency to fall in different directions--I try to rotate the plant to make sure that some parts aren't frying and others languishing in the dark.

Daily care: I STILL soak this guy most mornings, but I know that I don't have to. The great thing about those tiny roots is that they can absorb some water just through high humidity (and certainly when there is condensation). I have gone two days without watering it and noticed no change. But it also doesn't seem to suffer from a daily soak and as I have some amount of plant care to engage in everyday right now, it is easier to just soak D. reflex daily, rather than try to remember a more sporadic schedule. Since it is actively growing, I spritz it with fertilizer maybe once a week. I do this after it has finished soaking.

Comments on culture: I actually believe that this plant would adjust to just living out in my room, say under a skylight. I may actually move it outdoors in the summer. I think it is actually a very sturdy and tolerant little being, in spite of how fragile it looked when I first got it. That said, it clearly thrives with high humidity (from my own greenhouse experience and from those photos of that plant in Singapore). I don't know how much water it NEEDS because I have never pushed the limits on letting it go dry for any period of time. I do know that it doesn't object to being soaked daily, but its roots will turn brown if they stay wet too long. So I think the netpot set up is actually perfect for it. I also know people mount it, but, really, the netpot setup is probably far easier to deal with, both for storing the plant (can be hung, like a mount, or set like a pot) but also for making sure that the roots gets plenty of air and water.

That's all. Hopefully the pics I took will actually post.

PS: I've mentioned elsewhere, but early on this plant was bit by my cat. It bears the scars to this day, and you might notice dried out patches in the photos. Other than looking a little battle-weary, the plant seems ok.
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