Orchids: Dendrobium nobile
Dendrobium nobile, like Coelogyne cristata, is an orchid for the beginner. It is very easy to grow and the, besides being extremely attractive, are produced in profusion if the plant’s basic needs are satisfied.
D. nobile is found over a large area from Nepal to south-east Asia, China and Formosa. It, too, is an epiphyte that grows in the mountains, mostly only up to elevations of about 1,600 m (5,220 ft). Nevertheless, it has a definite resting period of several months, during which time the temperature should be lowered and water practically withheld. When the flower buds appear the temperature should be raised and watering resumed.
It does relatively well indoors if provided with at least a slightly lower temperature during the dormant period. The rest period is not as pronounced in the case of hybrids raised in the past few decades in Japan. These plants far outshone the type species by the profusion, size and coloration of the blooms and became a great hit as soon as they were put on the market.
Dendrobium nobile has thick pseudo-bulbs about 30 cm (1 ft) high, which may be up to twice as large in older, robust plants. The leaves are leathery, lanceolate, and generally remain on the plant for two years – they fall during the rest period (leafless pseudo-bulbs are not a sign of ill-health; this is a common phenomenon in orchids). The flowers, usually three to a scape, are massed in the upper half to upper third of the pseudo-bulb. They measure about 9 cm (3-½ in) in diameter and are very variable in coloration.
The species is generally grown as an epiphyte on a ball of light(the same mixture as for Coelogyne cristata). In the home it may be propagated by vegetative means — either by dividing large, older clumps or by detaching the young plants growing on the pseudo-bulbs after they have formed sufficiently large roots.