Is my Dendrobium Cane completed?

Hopefully I can explain how to tell if the growth on your Dendrobium has completed for the year without causing too much confusion. It is a question that is raised numerous times. It is very important to be able to tell a complete growth from an incomplete growth as we need to regulate feeding and watering. We don’t want to feed too long otherwise, apart from being a waste of fertiliser we are in danger of allowing the plant to go into a rest with a new cane that is soft and not fully ripened. The result is the cane will shrivel beyond redemption, occasionally down to half it’s length, the cane will subsequently die off and all the work we have put into it will be lost, along with it’s flowering capabilities.
In the first photograph, it is easy to see that the cane is in active growth, this is Dendrobium nobile. Sorry, you have to click each photo twice to see it full size.

The cane in this instance is very late due to the fact that it has nearly doubled it’s length this year so I’m going to have to take extra care of this one when we go into winter so it doesn’t get damaged. This plant will continue to get plenty of water and feed for the next few weeks, it will also require heat to keep it growing.
The next picture is Dendrobium heterocarpum, although it has produced it’s terminal leaf the growth still hasn’t completed, but you can see it is very close.

You can be excused for assuming that this cane is complete, but I’ll explain why not. I don’t have a plant at the moment that is at the stage where fertiliser was stopped, but it is quite visible, you can see that the final leaf is evident if you carefully observe your plant. In this case the final leaf is easy to see, but that doesn’t mean the cane is complete. If you look at the cane between the last and second to last leaf it is quite translucent and immediately behind the last leaf you can see the cane hasn’t filled it completely, we want it full up to where that last leaf can be seen joining the cane. We have stopped feeding this plant a couple of weeks ago and only giving it water. Watering frequency has been reduced a little, this should signal to the plant to finish making that cane and begin to ripen. The next picture shows Dendrobium polyanthum at the same stage, this is to show that the vast majority of Dendrobium are the same regarding this.

Once the cane has definitely completed then you can start reducing water more. It is also at that time that temperatures can be reduced and light can be increased to help with ripening.
In the next photograph you can see that the cane has fully developed. This is also Dendrobium nobile.

Although most people give these plants a dry rest, they quite literally reduce water to zero. However, in nature the plants, while not getting rain, are actually subjected to heavy mists especially in the morning. I give them a good spray all over, 2 or 3times per day, when their pots dry out I leave them dry no more than 48 hrs and then moisten the compost again, moisten not soak. As late afternoon comes on I stop spraying to ensure the plant’s foliage is dry before darkness falls. All shading is removed for winter to allow the plants to receive full sunlight if we get any in winter, this will fully ripen the canes and initiate flower buds.
If there is still something I’ve not made clear, just ask, or if anything is confusing let me know. Once you see this happening with your own plants you won’t mistake it.

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