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Dendrobium spectabile

Here is an orchid you will either love or hate. 

The flowers are alien looking.  It is a collector's orchid.  If you only want pretty there are many less expensive Dendrobium from which to chose.  But if you want different and one that will turn heads this is it.

This orchid is found from Paupua New Guinea and the Solomen Islands

It requires different care from other Dendrobium but care that is easy to give.  Unlike common Dendrobium, Dendrobium Spectabile will not flower without much higher levels of light.  The will even take full sunlight for much of the time.  A little protection from late afternoon sun will keep the leaves looking better.  They should be grown with at least Vanda light levels. (5-8,000 foot candles - summer sun can be 10-11,000 foot candles). 

Increase the water and fertilizer to higher levels during growing season (April to October) than most orchids and you will have good success with this plant.  
It needs to be 4-5 years old to flower.  At this time, they will have 4-7 canes and be about 18-24 inches high.  Plants start to reach their full potential when the get to be 7-10 years old and reach 3 feet or more in height. 

Flower spikes emerge from little black nubs near the top of the cane on the side of the cane.  Like many species Dendrobium reduction of nitrogen fertilizer after the growing season.  We reduce fertilizer in October.

Den. spectabile flower

The flowers are protected from being fertilized by flying insects by covering the pollen and seed.  

However the flower is hinged and crawling insects can go under the hinged portion of the flower.  It apparently wants to be fertilized by a specific insect for which it has evolved a mechanism to accomplish this.  Possibly it once grew in an area where an insect would take its pollen without fertilizing the plant.  Nature finds a way to adapt.

Hinged Den. spectabile

There is a new Yellow form of spectabile.  It is a smaller plant flowering at about 20 inches (whereas the standard for gets to be over 30 inches).  Den. spectaile var aurea