A fantastic miniature, and a relatively new discovery in the orchid world, I stumbled upon this interesting orchid species, Dendrobium hekouense while perusing through some journal articles on recent ecological discoveries. The species was only described in 2011, however, by 2015, this species had already made it to the market but was only available in very limited numbers.
According to published literature first describing the species and IOSPE, Dendrobium hekouense, grows in Yunnan, China at elevations ranging from approximately 3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level. It was first observed growing on oak tree trunks in evergreen broad-leaved forests.
Being rather uncommon in cultivation, notes on culture are not readily available for this species. When I bought the plant, it was mounted on a manzanita branch, with almost no moss and probably prefers to grow that way. The plant itself is tiny, with 1/4-inch wrinkled, dark red pseudobulbs carrying a pair of ½-inch leaves at the apex of the pseudobulb. Consistent with the conditions in its natural habitat, I grow it in my cool/intermediate greenhouse, in a bright location with substantial air movement. My misting is relatively “heavy-handed” so I tend to water most of my orchids that way. Located very close to a misting nozzle, the plant is well watered during the hot summer months. As is the case with most of my other orchids, my fertilizer regimen consists of about ¼ -strength balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer containing all the micronutrients with a pinch of Epsom Salt in a gallon of tap water on a weekly basis in late spring and summer, during the active growth phase. The species appears to be generally tolerant of water with elevated total dissolved solids. With the onset of Fall, dormancy sets in and the plant starts to slow down. Around this time, I reduce watering and fertilizer and completely stop watering and fertilizing around mid-December. Depending on weather though (it has been very wet and humid this winter), I would mist the plant occasionally to prevent it from drying out completely. In late December the inflorescences begin to arise from the base of last year’s mature pseudobulbs. The inflorescence develops rather fast (in a matter of weeks). My plant flowers with about 1-2 flowers per inflorescence. The 1-inch flowers are significantly larger than the plant itself and possess a heavy texture. The flowers possess a very interesting color combination, ranging from cream to almost greenish with pink striations and spots. The lip is pubescent and transitions from cream with pink spots to brown in the throat. The flowers do not appear to possess any distinct odor.
As always, we must adjust all cultural advice we get from any growers, including me, to account for our conditions. Overall, it appears to be relatively easy to care for and a must have in a collection of miniatures.