The Dendrobium genus is a very extensive one covering a wide geographical region from southern Australia up into south China from sea level to mountainous regions. This distribution covers both warm to cold regions, constantly moist to very dry and dry for part of the year and moist for another part of the year. One must also consider the fact that Australia is a very large country and going from south to north a tremendous variation in climates occurs. Also keep in mind that our fall is their spring and north is warmer than south.
Dendrobium kingianum is found in both northern and southern areas and thus has two different clones, a tall clone which is the most common one in culture and a short clone which gives more compact plants. In addition to all this D. kingianum throws keikiis like crazy and even keikiis will blossom.
Culture is fairly simple. Use an open mix of bark, charcoal and perlite in either plastic or clay. Dormant period for the species is summer here and active growth is underway in my greenhouse as I write (mid November). Flowering spikes are also apparent in several of my early flowering crosses. In Australia it is known as the “Pink Rock Orchid” since it grows on small stones and boulders often along the edges of ravines where the humidity and spray often supplement rain.
Because of the ease of kikii propagation the plant is very common in collections and the removal of kikiis is essential to grow well formed plants specimens. Kikiis have been known to flower while laying on a work bench or if dropped to the floor in a greenhouse.
In recent years clone selection for flower color and interspecific crosses with D. speciosum, also known as the “Rock Orchid”, D. tetragonium, D. suffusum, D. falcorostum and many others is yielding from whites to intense pinks and reds along with the golden flecking of some other species.
Several growers in Australia from Burleigh Parks and Merellen in Queensland have put many of these crosses into the orchid trade. Mine come from Merellen in Wonga, Queensland which is in the north and in somewhat mountainous region and the Australian Orchid Nursery. Many of the seedling crosses are now several years old and should be showing up on the display table this fall and winter and even into the spring. I grow mine with maximum sun exposure during the winter and cool so flowering is somewhat delayed. They should do well in a sunny window with intermediate temperatures or in any exposure or conditions where Cattleyas are grown
The new crosses also form keikiis rather easily and some will make their way to the fall 50/50 sale for The Amherst Orchid Society in the near future.