The Q&A Archives: Filtered Light For Dendrobiums

Question: I bought 3 dendrobium plants about three months ago and they have not yet bloomed. The seller said that dendrobiums should put out a new flower stalk roughly 60 days after finishing blooming, and mine have no stalks yet at all. I called the grower and she said they were probably not getting enough light. The leaves on all of them are dark green, like ivy or a weeping fig.

I really only have two windows in my apartment--one has extremely low light (when you hold your hand over the sill you get no shadow). The orchids are in the window which receives moderately bright light. First, they were right in the window, but then a lot of their leaves got burned and fell off. So I pulled them a bit back from the window.

How can Ii filter the light from the window so that it doesn't burn the plants but they get enough light to bloom? What sort of screen or paper should i use?

Answer: It can be tricky to provide "bright" light, as so many plant books recommend, but no direct sunlight. I have this problem myself, with just a few windows to choose from. My solution has been to get very sheer curtains--the kind that let most of the light in, but provide some privacy. This seems to be a good compromise for my plants. You could also try getting some of that reflective film that people put on their window, to reflect some of the heat. I haven't tried that, but I imagine it allows lots of light through, which you want, but helps cut down on the heat, which you don't. You may be able to find this film at department stores.

A friend just mentioned she's heard of "orchid screens". These are framed pieces of a lacy fabric that you hang in the window using suction cups. They filter the light for the orchid, and look lovely to boot! You might search the web, especially the orchid sites, and see what you find.

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