Originally from Queensland, Australia and Papua New Guinea, Dendrobium smilliae is a hot growing epiphyte found on trunks and tree crooks. It’s a slender looking dendrobium, with grass-like leaves that gracefully develop alternately as the cane grows.

The Bottlebrush Orchid

But what’s curious and unique about Dendrobium smilliae is its clusters of pretty pink to while flowers that emerge only on the older, leafless canes. Arranged cylindrically and in large numbers, these clusters resemble a brush, earning this species its nickname, ‘The Bottlebrush Orchid’.

Dendrobium smilliae – close-up of unopened flowers

I’ve come across impressive Dendrobium smilliae specimens that are at least three feet tall at shows. A large and multi-‘bottlebrush’ smilliae is always quite a spectacular sight. However, try as a might, I could not grow my smilliae to such monster sizes, let alone come to flower.

Dendrobium smilliae – plant


Another smilliae

Similarly speaking, underpotting my Dendrobium smilliae in a 5 inch pot may be the crux of why I couldn’t bring it to great vigour. Perhaps I need to transplant a tree in my garden to house it, preferably one with a crook.

Similar flowers.

In any case, if you’re successful with flowering Dendrobium smilliae, then good on you! Just don’t go cleaning bottles with its flowers. It doesn’t work.