Dendrobium Kingianum (Pink Rock Orchid): Ultimate Care Guide

Dendrobium Kingianum, also known as the Pink Rock Orchid is native to Australia. Like other Dendrobium orchids, it is epiphytic and lithophytic, with roots that attach themselves to trees and rocks, but seldom in soil. It can be grown in common orchid potting mix, and this is what most growers use. It is a good idea to keep this plant potted in cooler climates as it is frost sensitive and may need to be moved inside during cold winter months. This is not to say it is finicky: Dendrobium Kingianum is known as an easy to care for orchid which doesn’t need much coaxing to flower. If you are just getting started with orchids, Dendrobium Kingianum is a hardy and beginner friendly plant. Already an orchid pro? This plant can be a great addition to your collection! Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to know when keeping this popular orchid variety!

Dendrobium Kingianum Care

Hardy and simple to care for, the Dendrobium Kingianum is one of the easiest orchids you can grow. In cold climates you need to make sure the plants don’t freeze or get too cold. But apart from needing to avoid cooler temperatures, this is a very unfussy orchid.

Lighting Requirement

Dendrobium Kingianum wants a warm and sunny location to grow its best. Make sure it can get sun even in winter. As the days get warmer you’ll need ensure this orchid doesn’t get too much direct sun on the hottest days. A good rule of thumb is to look for a slight read color on the leaves. This means your plant is getting the right amount of sunshine. If you are growing this orchid outdoors, the perfect spot can be under a tree that looses its foliage in winter: during summer months it will provide shade while allowing enough light through as the seasons shift to winter.

Dendrobium Kingianum
Dendrobium Kingianum

Soil Type and pH Requirement

An epiphyte, Dendrobium Kingianum is perfectly happy growing on rocks and tree trunks in its native environment. You can choose to duplicate these types of growing conditions, or go with a prepared orchid mix instead. If you want to attempt to make your own potting mix, make sure it is light and has good drainage. This orchid likes moisture, but it needs proper ventilation as well. A mix of bark pieces and coconut husk can be a good starting point. Adding perlite and river rocks can give you the light and fast-draining medium this orchid loves. Whatever your soil choice, make sure it is slightly acidic with a pH between 5.5 and 6.0. If needed, you can raise the acidity of your potting mix with citric acid.

Watering Requirement

Dendrobium Kingianum prefers drier soil but higher humidity. It is best to give this orchid a soaking, then let it dry out. If you are growing this outside in a hotter climate it’s a good idea to mist in the early morning. While this orchid has strong canes that allow it to survive in hotter climates, it prefers a humidity level of at least 50 percent, or preferably higher.

Temperature Requirement

While Dendrobium Kingianum can tolerate heat up to 105° Fahrenheit, it needs some winter chill to flower. Never allow it to freeze, but temperature drops below 50° Fahrenheit in winter are ideal. If you are in a cold climate, be prepared to move this orchid inside if frost is expected. Also be sure to avoid direct afternoon sun in the hottest months of the year.

Hardiness Zone

The hardiness zone range for Dendrobium Kingianum is between 9 and 12. In the USA, this means that growing this orchid outdoors year-round is only possible in Puerto Rico, and the southern parts of Texas and Florida. While you can grow this plant outdoors in colder zones, you’ll need to be prepared to bring it inside when frost is in the forecast.

Fertilization Requirement

Dendrobium Kingianum benefits from liquid organic fertilizer which can be applied every two weeks. Make sure this is a weak solution of balanced fertilizer. Some orchid growers only fertilize at the start of the growing season and after blooms have dropped.

Dendrobium Kingianum (Pink Rock Orchid)
Dendrobium Kingianum (Pink Rock Orchid)

Dendrobium Kingianum Propagation

Dendrobium Kingianum will produce baby plants, or Keikis, which are offshoots of the main plant. This often happens during times of low light. To propagate this orchid from a Keiki, make sure it has created three to four roots then cut it off, leaving two inches above and below the node. These cuttings can be grown in orchid growing media, but it is important to keep them out of direct sunlight.

An alternative, and advanced, propagation method involves tissue cultures. This has benefits and drawbacks. The benefit is being able to produce genetically pure and sterile clones. Properly tissue cultured plants are completely sterile and free from diseases and pests. A big drawback is the difficulty: preparing successful tissue cultures requires complicated material and equipment such as special growing media, sterile working environment and temperature controlled growth chambers. Hobbyists would likely not benefit from attempting tissue culture orchid propagation, but commercial growers will find many benefits. Because the plants are cloned from small tissue samples, it is easy to create many individual plants from a single donor plant. At early stages in the growing process, tissue cultures can be further divided to exponentially increase the number of total tissue cultures. Working in this way can produce large numbers of plants without waiting for Keikis to form naturally from parent plants.

Size & Growth Rate

Dendrobium Kingianum produces pseudo-bulbs, or canes, which can vary between 2 to 10 inches long, and up to a tenth of an inch in diameter. These thick canes store water and nutrients and allow the plant to live through times of drought or other stress. A well-cared-for plant will produce three or four of these every year, which mature in autumn. Each cane will last for several years.

Repotting Dendrobium Kingianum

Repot Dendrobium Kingianum once every year or two in appropriate orchid growing media. Each time you’ll want to place the plant in a larger pot and remove any leafless, dried out canes. The best time to repot this orchid is at the beginning of the spring growing season.

Problems Growing Dendrobium Kingianum

Aphids and thrips are the most damaging pests for Dendrobium Kingianum. These insects will attack flower spikes and it is important to stay vigilant to prevent an infestation. Red mites are also common pests which attack leaves resulting in scars and brown coloration. Most common pests can be easily controlled with products such as insecticidal soaps and neem oil-based insect control preparations. Make sure you read all product warning labels and directions to avoid harming your orchids.

Dendrobium Kingianum Winter Rest

Dendrobium Kingianum need a dry, cool winter rest to encourage flowering and support overall plant health. While freezing temperatures must be avoided, cool dry air below 50° Fahrenheit is ideal during the winter months. Enough water should be provided to prevent the pseudo-bulbs, or canes, from shriveling. Fertilizer should not be applied during winter rest. A well-managed winter rest period will help your orchids flower during the spring.

How to get Dendrobium Kingianum to bloom?

The most important element in getting Dendrobium Kingianum to bloom is providing a cool, dry winter rest. Keep temperatures below 50° Fahrenheit and only enough water to prevent the pseudo-bulbs from shriveling. Some growers will begin providing a phosphorus-rich liquid fertilizer when the spring growing season starts. Special fertilizer may not be necessary for this orchid, which has a reputation as a reliable bloomer.

Dendrobium Kingianum fragrance

Dendrobium Kingianum flowers last around a month, and produce a beautiful fragrance reminiscent of sweet lilac or hyacinth blooms.

Dendrobium Kingianum Types

Dendrobium Kingianum has a number a variants available on the market, most have flowers which have a mix of white and lavender, some are pure white. When looking for unusual variants of this orchid do your research as some are reported to be man-made hybrids and not pure Dendrobium Kingianum. However, if you are mainly interested in aesthetics and not genetics, these other orchids are beautiful and can be a great part of your collection. Do your research when buying Dendrobium Kingianum variants and make sure you know their true species.

Dendrobium Kingianum ‘alba’

Dendrobium Kingianum’s ‘alba’ variant has bright, white flowers instead of the usual purple. When looking for Dendrobium Kingianum ‘alba,’ be cautious, as some varieties are rumored to be man-made hybrids.

Dendrobium Kingianum ‘silcockii’

Dendrobium Kingianum’s ‘silcockii’ variant has bright white flowers with lavender-pink lip markings. This orchid has similar care requirements as regular Dendrobium Kingianum but with a stunning and uncommon flowers.

Where can I find Dendrobium Kingianum for sale?

Dendrobium Kingianum is a common orchid, especially in its native country of Australia. It is easily available from many plant suppliers, both physical stores and online sources. Depending on the variant, you can expect to pay between $20 and $30 USD for this orchid.

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