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Dendrobium cuthbertsoni F. Mueller 1888 SECTION Calyptrochilus

Discussion in 'Orchid Species' started by Plantman, Feb 16, 2015.

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  1. Plantman

    Plantman Member

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    Dendrobium cuthbertsoni F. Mueller 1888 SECTION Calyptrochilus

    I am writing this post because I Love this species and have known too many people who have purchased this plant and killed it.

    I grow now in the tropics in Puerto Rico where the highest elevation is 3,200 feet. The locals say it's cold in the Mountains that are really eroded hills but in reality they do not know snow, ice or temp lower the 57 or if they go to some warehouse meat packing place at 45 Degrees is all the cold they know.

    This article is not meant to discourage you from wanted this plant it is written to tell you all about it and to help you understand how to grow them and can you be successful.

    Dendrobium cuthbertsonii 01.jpg Dendrobium cuthbertsonii 02.jpg Dendrobium cuthbertsonii 03 Orange Glow.jpg Dendrobium cuthbertsonii 04.jpg Dendrobium cuthbertsonii 05.jpg Dendrobium cuthbertsonii 06.jpg Dendrobium cuthbertsonii 07jpg.jpg

    I live 2 miles from the northern coast, at 200 feet elevation and the winter low is 67-71 degrees. I can only grow warm growing orchids! Some intermediate growers have done well but many haven't. The summers can be brutal, it never gets below 81 for 6 months at night and days can get to 88-95 during those 6 months. The only cool growing Orchids I grow beautiful is Vanda (Neofinita) falcata and Dend unicum.

    Have always love Dendrobium cuthbertsonii, wish I could grow this beauty, but it is an alpine growing specie growing in over 6,000-10,000 feet (2,000-3,000 Meters) above sea level in New Guinea from the northwestern part of Irian Jaya along the central dividing mountain range down to the southeast of Papua New Guinea, on the mountains of the Milne Bay Province and the Bismarck Archipelago on Goodenough Island and the southeastern mountains of New Ireland.

    The temperature range for Dendrobium cuthbertsonii in their natural habitat is 70-80 degrees during the day but the will tolerate temperatures up 75-85 during the day but they must have minimum night at 45-55 degrees. They are cool growers, that is how they grow, have generically evolved and it's the reason it has a limited natural range.

    This specie can not adapt to a warmer environment just like you can not grow a Coconut Palm where it is cooler then 60 degrees nor could you grow many other plants warm growing plants in that cool an environment!

    Out in the wild the plants are not always attached to the trees but have their roots entangled in the outer layers of the moss covering the trunks and branches, growing with other plants - including other species of orchids, Dendrobium sulphureum is often found nearby, on dwarf species of Rhododendron. The roots of Den. cuthbertsonii may extend through the moss layer and find their way into the soil. Plants can be found growing in sun or in the semi-shade of the nearby grasses and shrubs. They get wet with frequent rain but are dry by night.

    Growing Den. cuthbertsonii in climatic zones other than those similar to its natural habitat appears very difficult.

    It is a Micro grower less then 2. inches (1cm) tall that lives in moss in the cloud forest. Dendrobium cuthbertsoni comes in so many different color combinations. The leaves and flowers shimmer in the light. In there native habitat, A large variety of flower colors can be seen. The color most seen is bright red but flowers with any combination of red and yellow in the sepals and petals or labellum are the norm, less common colors are pink and combinations of pink and white in the sepals and petals. Most rare are seen was pink with a pale yellow-orange labellum. Because they are loved by many, color form rare in nature and combinations of bi-colored flowers have increased with crossing different colors by breeders and hobbyist. Flower size now with good breeding has enlarged the flowers and if well grown the individual flowers are 1-1.25 inches (2.5-3 cm).

    February/March through October is their growing season, the plants like plenty of water, and should be kept somewhat moist. In Mid Fall, from November until January/February, the plants should be kept dry between watering to encourage bud formation. If they are grown like they have evolved they are free-flowering with a solitary flower on a terminal to axillary, short, single flowered but only if given cool to cold conditions with high humidity and great air circulation. Once the spikes and buds appear, resume normal watering.

    Dend cuthbertsoni prefers, very bright light, but no direct sun, bright, filtered light in the range of 1300-2,400 foot candles is best for growth & flowering with leaves a light green in color, or have a reddish tinge to them, the most intriguing characteristic of the leaves are the 'warty' leaves .

    Dendrobium cuthbertsonii likes to be moist at all times with pure water that has a low level of dissolved salts and do best grown wet in an free draining mix in small pots so they can be grown wet, but dry by night. The use of a 20-20-20 fertilizer at 1/2 strength every two weeks while growing and remember never fertilize a dry plant.

    In cultivation they do well grown in New Zealand sphagnum moss, fine fir bark, or mounted on cork slabs. They prefer small or shallow pots and like to be somewhat crowded in the pot. Depending on the media used they will need to be reported every year, 2 years at the most, being careful not to disturb the root system.

    When you report they can be divided but try not to be less then 8-15 bulbs or they take to long to reestablish and flower. I prefer to divide them and establish then in 2 inch pots with NZ Moss and replant them in a chopped tree fern, Charcoal, NZ moss mix in about 2-3 months when they show a good root system. A well grown plant in a 3 inch pot can have 45-60 growths with 20-35 flowers open! As an added bonus they has the longest floral duration of any orchid, with individual flowers remaining open for up to six-nine months.

    Some growers advisable to remove the flowers in the winter, if the plants have been flowering for more than 8 months. This will allow the plant to recuperate and flower the following season. Some plants have been known to flower to death!

    So as a warning to all you tropical habitat growers who refuse to understand that there are MANY orchids we should not grow, UNLESS you live in High Elevations of at least 5,000 feet above sea level. You can not get this plant to adapt to the warn Caribbean weather.

    I'm 2 miles from the coast with an elevation of less then 200 feet above sea level and a winter low of 67-72F Degrees! NO WAY!!!!!!!!

    I was somewhat successful growing it on a window in NYC years ago! But that's a long time ago and my conditions were more favorable.

    MAYBE I SHOULD GET A Refrigerated-case or a Deli refrigerator AND GROW IT!

    Top red specimen in situ photo from Trans Niugini Tours, Papua New Guinea. The photo was taken along a trail at Ambua Lodge. All the other's are Photos are from the internet from Ron Parsons
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
  2. Natureman

    Natureman Active Member

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    Hi Plantman!
    I recently was loaned one plant to grow in my case which drops to 55f at night. I'm very excited about it! But, to your point, I would never have accepted this challenge unless I was confident that I can maintain the correct temperature and humidity for this special plant. (I would have never thought of it if I hadn't seen Mike Leone's success).
    Thanks for taking the time to post such a comprehensive thought!
     
  3. Mike Leone

    Mike Leone Acme Orchidarium Co. acmeorchidarium.com Forum Sponsor

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    Hi Michael, Well done article. One thing I would like to add is the fact that seed propagation and selection for vigor by hobby and commercial growers has made this species more adaptable and easier to
    grow than when the first plants were introduced into cultivation from wild collected stock. Although their temperature tolerance seems to have held true to its native habitat.
     
  4. Plantman

    Plantman Member

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    I was having a discussion with a friend about adaptability of some plants. Hybridization crossing cool growers with warm growers has helped and as my friend Mike Leone wrote "fact that seed propagation and selection for vigor by hobby and commercial growers has made this species more adaptable and easier to grow than when the first plants were introduced into cultivation from wild collected stock."

    I do know that today many species have been developed to be more tolerant, adaptable but the one thing I have learned about adaptability is that in Puerto Rico where I am growing is WARM, at 200 feet elevation many plants that are found above 3,000 have a slim chance for survival. I think the same would happen if you grew Phalaenopsis or a Tolumnia in a controlled case with the temp set as cool or in a 3,000-5000 feet elevation How well would they do?

    It stays just too hot in Puertp Rico! I use fans to get better air circulation, use clay pots to cool the roots is one of the reasons that what does survive is going great. The plants who can do the ones that can't adapt are no longer with me.

    I see the problem with the additional of ex-cool growing plants that I add to my Compost pile that have not adapted. My collection of Clivia have just gone to compost heaven after almost 3 years here. It's just too hot for them and I got some from Japan and growing some of the variegated clones for over 35 years! Same goes for Rhapis Palm collection from Japan! Compost heaven now!

    If my minimum low were in low 60's 6 months of the year I may have more success with some things but it's not, I get 3-4 months if I'm lucky 67-71 for a minimum low Dec-Feb, then sandwiched with 71-75 for maybe 6-8 weeks in the spring and late fall as a minimum low and them unrelenting heat with night temp of 79-82 for 6 months with highs going from 84-96 every day.

    I learned that over 25 years ago when I took my collection from Columbia University greenhouses, but in reality knew that from having taken down the last 35 years plants to grow at my grandfather. It's not just Orchids, I can not get my Christmas nor my Easter Cacti to live longer then a year! They only set bud the first year because they were well rooted cuttings that I placed in a plastic zip-lock plastic bag for a week before I went to bed and first thing when I got up was to taken them back outside and they flowered beautifully! This fall I saw they had rotted and fallen apart Have done similar with Neofinetia & a few Den unicum hybrids which are small enough. I think I need to build a case eventually or it would be hopeless, Or move to a place in the island where the elevation would be at least 1,800 to get a better night time temperature drop! Then maybe I'd' have a chance!

    Any thoughts on what I've written, I'd like to read how some of you have done for things to survive the odds and thrive! THANKS GUYS
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  5. Mike Leone

    Mike Leone Acme Orchidarium Co. acmeorchidarium.com Forum Sponsor

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    All very interesting thoughts Michael, I think the problem many of us have is the desire to grow everything. and some times knowing it's outside of our comfort zone makes the desire to grow it even greater.
    You are right that there are many things that I can't grow based on the temperature range I maintain, I also have size and number restrictions by growing in Orchidariums but I still push my luck and sometimes it works. Phal. lobbii grows and blooms beautifully, and there are a few tolumnia that I grow cool like tolumnia tuerckheimii. even some of the Aerangis will grow cool.
    In the end it's a matter of adapting to your individual growing space, learning how to make the most of what you have and being the best grower you can be, and then pushing the envelope a little!
    We all hate to lose plants but truth be told we all do. hopefully that becomes part of the learning process and that's why resource like Orchids Forum are a great place to have discussions like this because we can all learn from each others successes and failures.
     
  6. DPfarr

    DPfarr Well-Known Member

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    I noticed your division of it into Calyptochilus. Your reason for it interests me.