ENVIRONMENT. Found growing wild in most areas on the east coast of Australia. It is easy to provide suitable conditions for these plants. Dendrobiums prefer bright filtered sunlight, 50% – 70% shadecloth is ideal or a tree or similar screen allowing dappled sunlight is perfect. Sarcochilus are usually found in heavier shade areas, about 90% shade and somewhat higher humidity than dendrobiums is beneficial.
TEMPERATURE. Good air movement is important, especially during very hot or cold periods so natural airflow should not be impeded. Sarcochilus enjoy temperatures up to 30 degrees, over this try to minimize maximum temperatures, by providing more shade or air movement.
WATERING. Perfect drainage is important, Many Australian Native Orchids grow on trees and dry off quickly after rain. Water thoroughly then allow plants to dry out completely before rewatering. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. If you receive regular winter rain, a solid roof over the plants may be necessary to control watering in cold weather.
COMPOST. Must be free draining. A course bark mix is ideal, perhaps add 20% gravel or similar if you wish.. As a guide, use 10mm bark in 100mm pots, 15mm bark in150mm pots and 20mm bark in 200mm pots or bigger. If established in the garden, a gravel bed under the plant will help with the drainage, or attach firmly to a tree or rock and tie a pad of coconut fibre or similar over the root mass.
REPOTTING. Dendrobiums are best done soon after flowering, at the beginning of the growing season. Leave Sarcochilus till March/April after the worst of the hot weather has passed. Sarcochilus grow all year, but experience most growth during Autumn/Winter.
Ensure pots have adequate drainage and are just big enough to contain the root system of the plant to be potted.
FERTILISE. Regularly, especially during the growing season, using a fertilizer for flowering plants, low in nitrogen and high in potassium.
PESTS & DISEASE. Generally hardy and resilient, Australian Native Dendrobiums and Sarcochilus can sometimes be attacked by scale, aphid or spidermite. Treat with a recommended insecticide such as Diazinon or pest oil. Fungal infections are rare provided good air movement during wet weather.
For more information about growing orchids, please see the articles section on the OSCOV articles page