June 2022: What's Blooming in the Office?

Most of my orchid collection is still vacationing in a private greenhouse in California – like a spa for orchids! But I’m back in Idaho and about a dozen plants made the trip with me mid-June, including this Dendrobium tobaense giganteum.

This orchid is living proof that you don’t have to be an expert to grow something incredibly cool. Yes, it looks exotic and fussy. But it’s fairly hardy and available for sale ($35 to $40) on commercial orchid growers’ websites.


It made the car trip from balmy Central California, apparently without complaint, as it just keeps blooming. Some websites say this plant is fragrant – but if so, it’s too light a scent for me to detect.

I learned online that it is a native of the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra, an area that gets frequent rainfall. So, the challenge to keeping this plant healthy will be to keep it well hydrated through Idaho’s bone-dry summer, and not let it dry out too much between waterings.

I’m certain I won’t be able to replicate the 70 to 80% humidity of its island home, but I can mist the plant frequently. (For me, that means as often as I remember to do it!) I’ll also fertilize it “weekly, weakly,” meaning most (but not all) weeks, I’ll add a very small portion of fertilizer to the water.

While I’m in Boise, I’ve agreed to share some tips on Basic Orchid Care at the Idaho Botanical Garden, coming up July 9 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. My goal is to make orchids less intimidating for folks who may be just getting started.

I’ll never be one of those experts who knows all the scientific names for orchid species, although I admire people with that kind of knowledge. My style as a grower is more casual, even experimental. I find something I think is pretty or unusual, bring it home and give it a try.

If I can do it, anyone can! And I’m excited to meet other orchid-lovers who want to know more.