Australian Native Orchid Culture:

Dendrobium and Sarcochilus


Found growing wild in most areas on the east coast of Australia, it is easy to provide suitable conditions in this area. Dendrobiums prefer bright light, 50%-70% shade cloth 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.


New South Wales coastal temperatures are OK, good air movement is imporant, expecially during very hot or cold periods so natural airflow should not be impeded. Sarcochilus enjoy temperatures up to 30 degrees celsius. Over this, try to minimise maximum temperatures by providing more shade or air movement.


Perfect drainage is very 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 plants may be necessary to control watering in cold weather.


- must be free draining. A coarse bark mix is ideal, perhaps add 20% gravel or similar if you wish. As a guide, use 10mm bark in 100mm pots, 15mm bark in 150mm pots and 20mm bark in 200mm pots or bigger. If established in the garden, a gravel bed under the plant will help with drainage, or attach firmly to a tree or rock and tie a pad of coconut fibre or similar over the root mass.


Dendrobiums are best done soon after flowering, at the beginning of the growing season. We leave Sarcochilus till March/April after the worst of the hot weather has past. Sarc's 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.


- regularly, especially during the growing season, using a fertiliser for flowering plants, low in nitrogen and high in potassium.

Pest and Disease

Generally hardy and resilient, Australian Native Dendrobiums and Sarcochilus can sometimes be attacked by scale, aphid or spider mite. Treat with a recommended insecticide such as Diazinon or Pest Oil. Fungal infections are rare provided good air movement is maintained during wet weather.

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