Bottle brush orchid rebloom ( Dendrobium busigerum

It rained for 3 days due to northeast monsoon, It is good that the rain had stop one day after Christmas day.

Dendrobium busigerum or commonly called as bottle brush orchid or toothbrush orchid is an orchid species with cute flowers ( one flower stalk can have as many as 100 small flowers). However in recent years, i notice that few homes had this type of orchid species, despite being commonly sold in Baclaran, Centris Sunday market ( Quezon City) and ambulant vendors.

The orchid species is also called sanggumay by ambulant vendors of Baclaran and Centris. I have seen some of this orchid species naturalized on Mango trees, Christmas palm, coconuts and even driftwood ( kakawate).

Etho-botanical and Cultural Importance

Some orchid growers would grow this particular orchid species because they believe that this orchid species can bring good luck to their family and ward off evil spirits. In some instances, pseudobulbs are grounded up for medicinal uses.

Dendrobium-busigerum

Dendrobium busigerum ( grown by the author)

Some backyard growers are not very impress with the minuscule flowers, But carefully looking at the cluster of flowers will Dendrobium busigerum is an epiphytic or sometimes growing in boulders/ karst forest. The pseudobulbs can grow up to about 50 – a little over 100 cm in length, grows in clusters of many pseudobulbs over the years. The stem is divided into multiple internodes, each internode has a leaf. The young stem usually have a green or white coat, the old stem often gray ash or gray.

This orchid species was recently reclassified as a separate species by Mr. Cootes and George Tiong ( A Guide to Dendrobium of the Philippines ) published in 2015.

Orchid hobbyists and growers are still baffled with these minor difference and still refer this one as Dendrobium secundum.

This species can be found in Albay, Camarines provinces, Catanduanes, Rizal, Sorsogon, Bataan, Samar, Leyte, Agusan, Davao, Lanao possibly Quezon, Masbate and Laguna province from sea level to about 700 meters in elevation.

One distinguishing feature of this orchid species is the flower are arranged radially on the inflorescence and the flowers are smaller and does not open fully, Dendrobium secundum open more fully and larger and facing in one direction. The number of inflorescence of Dendrobium busigerum are much more. Both species would exhibit some color variations.

Dendrobium-busigerum2

Dendrobium busigerum grown on Macarthur palm ( Ptychosperma macarthurii)

Cultural Techniques

During its growing period, This orchid species requires high temperatures, humidity with regular watering, but leaving the compost to dry up, if in pot, before giving water again, upon growth completion, to observe a dry period in during dry season, with slightly cooler temperatures, in order to have the flowering till the coming of the new vegetation; a constant, good air circulation is key to successful growing.

This orchid also prefers growing on live trees, palm with little moss or coconut husk.

This orchid can flower two or three times a year in our growing condition. We observe that the flowering is triggered with the change of weather and rainfall.

Watering: During rainy season, we normally do not water the orchid and observing a short rest period during dry season which start from late November to early May ( watering them sparely).

Fertilization: The period from mid- May to early November of each year is the period of orchid growing more branches and strong growth (which also coincide with rainy season in the western part of the Philippines)
We would apply a water soluble fertilizer (20N-20P-20K) apply twice or even three times a week at 1/4 the recommended strength. We would also put slow release fertilize about 30 to 40 pieces tied on a small cloth.
We would also apply calcium nitrate ( twice a month ) with micro-nutrient solution once a month. Other nutrient solutions like Magnesium sulfate would only require small amount.
Flushing them at least once a week with ordinary tap water. All our Dendrobium busigerum are big and specimen size. smaller orchid would only need between 10 to 20 pieces of slow release fertilizer. ( There are several well known brands like Nutricote and Osmocote)
Try to observe the dry season by watering less ( every 3 to 5 days) from late November to early May (which also coincide with the dry season in the western part of the Philippines).
Diseases: This orchid is prone to scales and aphids. We also try to apply fungicide just before the onset of the rainy season at least every two weeks.
References:
Personal communication with backyard orchid growers
Philippine Native Orchid Species, Cootes 2009
Cootes , Tiong A Guide to Dendrobium of the Philippines, 2015