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Old 03-31-2011, 09:53 AM
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Dendrobium - should I repot/split?

Hi again!

Among my rescued plants there is a small Dendrobium of some sort (Possibly of the Phalaenopsis type, definitely not Nobile - looks like it had carried terminal flower spike on one of its older growths). It is potted in a tiny container, and the younger growths are all but falling out of it on one side. It also recently initiated new growth at both clumps of canes (one tiny and one larger).

I have read that it is therefore a good time to repot it ("when you see new growth" as per culture sheets), and I suspect that the container is too small for it. I have medium-grade bark with coco fibre mix (a Swedish brand), which has been sterilized and is sold slightly damp (no signs of fungus etc. in the bag), and a medium-sized plastic pot/cachepot for it. I was thinking of splitting the Dendrobium into two, and moving the larger clump into the new pot (and both into new mix).

The tops of 2 growths (broken-off leaves at the top of one aren't my fault) appear to have something rounded coming up the crowns, which I imagine is a would-be flower spike, but it is still in the tiny-nub state at this point.

Should I repot the plant and is there any advice about splitting it? I have never handled a Dendrobium before this.

Photos - size of pot/growths, and a new growth close-up.

I would appreciate any advice!

Lils
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:06 AM
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Looks to me more like an antelope type Dendrobium.

I dont think it needs a new pot at all. Dens in general love to be crammed into tiny pots. I would only repot if it media is going bad. If it isnt, let it be.
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:14 AM
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Louis, thanks!

I haven't seen it bloom (here's hoping!). Would be interesting if it is one of those!

The medium it's planted in is old. I don't know how many years old. I haven't taken it out of the pot to check, though it appears to drain well when I water it despite being fairly fine-grade (bark only as far as I can tell).

The thought to repot/clean up the plant came from the fact that during its time of neglect at my (very nice but not plant-minded) friends' home, it tried to initiate a few new growths which then aborted, and so the pot has several small one-joint tall bulb/cane things, some of which are clearly dead and shrunken and some are still green but with dead crowns. Should I leave it all be if so, or should I remove those? (The plant is growing some new roots, but there are clearly old and still functioning ones reaching down into the medium.)
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:03 PM
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I would not divide it, imo it's not big enough to divide yet.

Also, I would repot it. You are correct that it is the right time of year to do so, and if you are unsure of what the bark is like down inside the pot, it's time to take a look. It might be fine, but it doesn't hurt to give it fresh stuff. As for the size of the pot, you could put it back in the same one, just give the pot a washing before you repot it back in. Some Dens resent overly damp conditions, so a smaller pot helps prevent this from happening.

As for the older growths, unless they are dried and shriveled up, leave them on, they do continue to help support new growth. I'm not sure what you mean by dead crowns, but if the older canes are green, then they are still good.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:26 PM
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Do you know how long your den has been in its current pot? I think it looks fine as is, but again, if its been a while and you don't know whats going on down underneath, then pulling it out might not be a bad thing to do. I do agree with Renee, if you do repot, the same pot should do just fine. I have very large and tall dens that are in very small pots and they like it that way.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:35 PM
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Regarding dead-crown "canes" - if you look at photo 2, you can see them, tiny round things with no leaves on top/dead tip. Some are completely shriveled up and some look like the one you can see.

So, yes to repotting, no to dividing, and leave it in the same pot (center a bit better maybe?) - check, will do that tomorrow. The small pot tends to dry out fairly fast, and since I have no idea of what this is other than LouisW's guess it's some sort of antelope-type dendrobium, should I assume it likes that and continue to allow it to dry out (lose condensation on inside of pot) between waterings?

When I received it, it'd been starved of water for months and dehydrated, so that some of the leaves got "stacked" on top of the cane rather than having it elongate. To rehydrate, I gave the pot a few hours' soak and have been watering approx. once a week/earlier if the pot feels light/no longer looks misted on the inside. Any other suggestions regarding what to do to help it? It is living on an unshaded Eastern window which gets a few hours morning sunlight and indirect light during rest of the day.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:59 PM
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Lilith, it's really hard to give specific advice, without knowing which type of Dendrobium it is for sure.

But couple things in your last post I want to point out - helpfully I hope.

"Regarding dead-crown "canes" - if you look at photo 2, you can see them, tiny round things with no leaves on top/dead tip. Some are completely shriveled up and some look like the one you can see"

Just because they have no leaves, doesn't mean they aren't contributing to the health of the plant. They may have no leaves due to poor culture at the time, or they may have no leaves just simply because it was time for the canes to drop the leaves. Again, it's hard to know without being sure which type of Den it is. The completely shriveled up ones - yes you can remove, if they are shriveled, they are not doing anything. The ones with no leaves, but the canes are still green - leave them there.

"When I received it, it'd been starved of water for months and dehydrated, so that some of the leaves got "stacked" on top of the cane rather than having it elongate"

Again, without knowing which type it is - the stacking of the leaves at the top of the cane is a growth habit of many Dendrobiums. It may be normal.

You mention old flower spikes coming from the top of the canes? Is it coming from the direct center at the top of the cane, or just at the top of the cane but kind of to the side of it? I ask because this can help narrow down what type of Den, and help give you an idea of the culture. I'm not sure I agree with Louis concerning it being an antelope, I don't see anything that definitely points to it. Although, yes it may be.

As for continuting to let it dry between watering, yes I would continue that. It doesn't look like one of the types of Den that like a more evenly moist culture. Don't forget with fresh media, your wet/dry cycle will be much faster than with old media.

Hope this helps. (Sorry how I copy and pasted, I still haven't figured out how to multi-quote )
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:09 PM
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Sorry - I forgot to add about light.

Your light sounds fine, but I'm not sure how strong the light is where you live. The best way to tell if you are getting enough light for a plant, is watch the color of the leaves (both new and old) and the growth of the new canes.

If you notice over time the color of the leaves is getting darker, then it needs more light. If the leaves are getting very yellow-green, then less light.

As for new growth, the new canes should be about as big as your oldest canes typically, if they develop this growing season that way then you are doing fine. If at the end of the season the new canes are significantly smaller than your current canes, then the plant is wanting something, light/water/fertilizer.
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Old 03-31-2011, 02:17 PM
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[QUOTE=Lilith;257021].........So, yes to repotting, no to dividing, and leave it in the same pot (center a bit better maybe?) - check, will do that tomorrow. QUOTE]

I wouldn't stress about centering it in the pot....Actually I would try to place it with the old side of it right against the pot side, so that the new growth is facing more fresh media than the other side....so the new roots have more space to grow....I hope I make myself clear.....
I like to do that with Dens and Catts because sometimes their roots just take off and dive into the new fresh media, and next thing you know -you have to repot again.....
This could save you more time before you repot next time....IMHO
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:07 PM
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Thank you all for the thought-through advice!

To try to address it in turns:

1. Regarding old canes - right, if the dead-topped ones are contributing to the plant, of course I will keep them. I guess they are tiny compared to what looks to be the original cane which was bought because of poor culture for a year or two.

2. Regarding flower spikes and old(er) canes - there is a larger cane which I think is the originally purchased plant (let's call this original cane), that has a terminal flower spike remnants - dried stick thing. It is in the very centre of the crown and no new leaves/tip of cane grows on it. On the sides of it there are a few ill-nourished little canes (see #1) as well as two moderately large growths which have a similar number of leaves to the original cane, and if I look down into the crown, I can see tips of something rounded coming up which don't look like new leaves (those come up pointed). My guess is that they are wanting/trying to form flower spikes. These two newer canes have fat "tummies" below the leaves.

3. Regarding "stacked" leaves - they are stacked more on the two newer canes than they are on the aging "original" cane, if this makes any sense?

4. Light - it's not very strong in Sweden in general. However, summer will see close to 20 hours of daylight in Stockholm - and we will be getting a grow light next fall, those are popular and easy to get here as many people grow citrus trees indoors and they require supplemental lighting in winter. This apartment has very good unshaded windows, and the Den leaves appear to be a healthy bright green color. If they get darker, I will move it to the Southern window which receives a lot of sunlight (enough to have slightly sunburned my Vanda despite shop instructions, but that's another - and sad - story). I do not have a light meter but one of the Phals appears to love the Southern window, while another had to be moved away - leaves turned a bit too light. I will move the Den there if needed.

5. Centering - the original cane has given rise to 2 groups of younger ones, each with a new growth (one is tiny and one is growing rather well, that one is pictured). I was thinking to move it so that one of those groups is not so squished against the side of the pot, but I will take the advice and place it so that the new growth has more space for roots - did not think of that, and sounds very sensible now that you mention it!

Thank you also for the reminder regarding watering cycle being faster with fresh medium. I do not think the plant was repotted since original purchase at all, and my best guess is that it was neglected for 1 - 1.5 years (with occasional watering perhaps), so I will at least pull it out tomorrow and take a good look at what's in the pot. The new medium I bought here appears to have made my previously ailing and recently-repotted Phal very happy (showing root tip growth within two days), so here's hoping the Den will like it as well.
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Old 03-31-2011, 04:47 PM
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If you find the roots a tight, tangled mess, you might consider soaking them for a couple of hours, and then swishing them around in the soak water several times to loosen any media. Dens like tight shoes and bloom better, and resent being disturbed.
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Old 04-01-2011, 02:45 AM
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your plant is fine. Don't repot.
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Old 04-01-2011, 04:36 AM
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Digitalgate - a little late, since morning in Sweden is already headed towards lunch and I've repotted the plant earlier today.

All in all, however, it did need it - the medium inside the pot looked worse than closer to clear sides, some had broken down into dirt, and the plant itself was being choked off growth by a huge (~5cm across in an 10cm pot) chunk of coconut fibre right under it and in the centre of pot. I imagine it was there since the plant was either potted for sale or even grown, since it was under a lot of roots and I could not get it all out without hurting the plant. I also think the undersized dead-topped canelets happened in part because they tried to grow on top of said chunk and simply had noplace to put their roots at all.

The roots that were alive, were mostly growing around it and trying to find some medium to dig themselves into. I ended up snipping away most of the coco fibre chunk - left only what the live roots had buried themselves into, which was not much, and replanted as advised, somewhat against one side with new growths facing empty 2/3 of pot full of new medium. Gave it a 30-min soak (medium was damp but not wet at potting time), and it's now back on its sill.

The new growths had been putting out a lot of new roots, which will now have space to grow, yay! So fingers crossed for its continued health, and thank you all for the advice!
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