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Participant Stories – “Sydney Rock Orchids – Dendrobiums”

Out Doors Inc. participant stories - Sydney Flowers


By Tim Heywood

The Sydney Rock Orchid is my favourite.

They love to hang on to Sydney’s sandstone rock and escarpments, particularly. I remember the days gone by as a young wannabee local at a holiday village near the Hawkesbury River mouth in Brisbane Waters National Park.

On the lowest tide that coincided with our holiday, we would rock-hop from Patonga beach to Pearl beach. I didn’t know much about the plant species but the orchids had fallen from the rock face above to the boulders below thus we could see their beauty close up.

These species are able to live without soil so their hair roots feed off the air and moisture as they cling precariously. They can also wedge themselves in the fork of a tree.

I have seen them for sale at some native plant nurseries, and they must have a Forestry or National Parks ticket attached with a serial number so you know they haven’t been poached.

Although they have limited success flowering in Victoria (mine have a yellow sprig) it can be done. Usually, they need 2 hours of sunshine in the morning and 2 hours of sunshine in the afternoon and usually flower in November. However, keeping the sprig from being eaten by Possums is another hurdle. If you keep snipping at the surrounding bushes to let the light in then you may get results.

When it comes time to divide them, only if you want to, you need a backing piece, usually an old tree fern stump, some light gauge wire and some sphagnum moss. Using a pruning saw or some garden loppers, cut the cluster, roots and all of your piece and wire it tightly to the backing, leaving some wire so you can attach it to a fence or another place in the garden.

Push the Sphagnum moss in between the hair roots and the backing and there you have it.

Good Luck!

Every month, Out Doors Inc. gives our Participants a chance to share their stories and passion projects. If you’d like to learn more or get involved, contact us at

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