January 22, 2007 10:23 PM


This entry is for a couple of my housemates. They seemed a little lost around a newly-aquired cymbidium, so it seemed like a good time to give everyone a few pointers on tending to California's easiest-to-tend orchid.

The diversity of this genus is remarkable! From wild epiphytes to land-dwelling cultivated varities, cymbidiums are everywhere. Luckly those in cultivation aren't tricky.

Here are a few pretty photos:

Direct quote from Wayne Turville's article on this website: www.cymbidiums.com.au "Hybridised by man, for over 100 years, the range of colour, size, growth and shape is now very different from the original species. Cymbidium flowers vary from 1cm to over 15cm across with up to 50 blooms to the raceme (spike) of colours in cymbidiums now varies from deep chocolates through to spectacular yellows, gold and all the shades of reds and browns as well as every hue."

If you live along the central coast of California, plop your cymbidium in a large pot, place it in mild shade, water it once a week, feed it twice a month, drench it once every 2 months, and you'll see some incredible blooms. My family always did. Prop up the blooms with stakes to give them good form. When frosty weather hits, give them a little extra care, cover them with a tarp or bring them inside. That's all you need to know when it comes to keeping a healthy Cymbidium.

Sometimes, though, we don't always have the perfect backyard conditions. That's what I'd like to focus on now - helping your orchid cope with less-than-ideal circumstances.

Cultivated Cymbidium is native to the Hymalayas. Keep this in mind when you're considering locking it in a bedroom that stays 75 degrees all year. This is not the ideal condition for a Cymbidium. Because of where they're from, they bloom best when they're exposed to a temperature differential. During their growing season, they prefer daytime temperatures of 65-82°F and nighttime temperatures of 50-65°F.

Moderate sunshine is best - afternoon shade and morning sunshine. If you choose to keep them indoors, be sure they're away from drafts and heater vents. As long as you avoid extremes, your plant will acclimate to the conditions in one spot. Pick a spot. Leave it there. Moving it to another location may induce shock.

If you're set on keeping your orchid indoors, give it a little breather for a few months out of the year. It's best if the plant is left outdoors, potted, in an open breeze, at least for the months of June through September.

When watering, be sure to remove excess water from the tray. Cymbidiums prefer not to be soggy. Should be fed once every two weeks. Use a high nitrogen fertilizer from march to May, a balanced fertilizer from June until September and a blossom booster from October until February. Heavy watering once every other month is necessary to leach accumulated fertilizer salts from the potting medium.

Many sources recommend repotting your cymbidium every other year, between the months of March and May. Other sources recommend never repotting, but instead ammending the existing soil to provide needed nutrients. Fresh, healthy soil will be the main benefit from repotting, but it's also a good time to divide your orchid to share with friends. Pre-made Cymbidium potting mixes can be found at most nurseries and hardware stores. Don't throw out the dead pseudobulbs, as they are still connected to the fresh plants. These "Back bulbs" store nutrients for the plant to use when nutrient supplies are low. 1 back bulb for a small grouping of bulbs is sufficient. If you think you might feed your orchid a bit less often, it's best to have three back bulbs for every one live grouping. If you divide your Cymbidium, be certain to include at least one back bulb in each pot.

Two important ones to remember:
(1) Keep it away from frost.
(2) Do not bury the Cymbidium’s pseudobulbs! If you bury them, the plant will begin to rot.



Photos came from these sites:


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