Cymbidium Orchid Care: The Basics
Cymbidium (sym-BID-ee-um) orchids are often used in cut flower displays as well as in corsages. Cymbidium orchids are often called “boat orchids” and the flowers are usually large in size and display a patterned lip. The flowers can last anywhere from 8-10 weeks and they come in almost all colors except blue.
Cymbidium spikes bloom only one time, so once the blooms have dropped you will not be able to encourage a rebloom from the spike as you can with other types of orchids. They typically bloom in the early spring although sometimes you can see flowers beginning to bloom in October or bloom all the way until June. Cymbidium orchids are popular due to their ability to thrive in cooler, drier conditions. If you live in an area with mild temperatures and no frost, you may be able to successfully grow Cymbidium orchids outside.
A Cymbidium orchid should be watered in the morning using tepid water. This will give the orchid adequate time to dry before the lower night temperature sets in. While the orchid is in active growth, it is recommended that you keep the orchid in slightly damp conditions but never let the medium become soggy.
Watering frequency – as covered in this article about watering orchids – can be determined by a few different things. You will want to water more frequently during the warmer months, at least once a week, and less frequently in the cooler months. Once the pseudobulbs have finished growing, in the late summer, you can reduce your watering schedule although it is important to not let the orchid dry out completely.
As covered in this article about orchids care and light, Cymbidiums need medium to bright light intensity in order to thrive, and do best with as much light as possible. If your Cymbidium orchid is receiving the optimal amount of light the leaves will be a yellow-green color. Too much light will cause the leaves to become yellow, and too little light will cause the leaves to become a very dark green color.
The best place to grow your Cymbidium orchid indoors in on an east facing windowsill, although a shaded south facing window will also work. If you choose to grow your orchid outside it is important that you give your Cymbidium shelter from direct sun although not in a completely shaded area.
As discussed in this orchid plant care article on temperature, during the summer and fall, day temperatures should be between 75°F to 85°F (23.9°C to 29.4°C), and night temperatures should be between 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 15.6°C). In order to initiate the growth of flower spikes it is necessary to have a nighttime temperature difference of about 20 degrees in the fall. Cooler night temperatures are also needed while the plant is in bud. During the winter, day temperatures should be between 65°F to 75°F (18.3°C to 23.9°) and night temperatures should be between 45°F to 55°F (7.2°C to 12.8°C).
As covered in this “humidity” article on how to care for orchids, Cymbidium orchids require humidity levels of 40-60 percent in the winter when the orchid may be in bud. If you need to increase the humidity level in your orchids growing environment you can do so by using a specially made humidity tray or simply placing a humidifier close by the orchid. Remember, if you have high humidity levels it is equally important to maintain proper air movement to prevent orchid disease.
When the Cymbidium is in active growth, you will want to fertilize regularly. An orchid fertilizer solution of (20-20-20) is recommended. During the winter months, applying fertilizer once a month is sufficient. It is important to remember to never add fertilizer to an orchid that is dry because you can cause severe damage to the roots and leaves.
Cymbidium orchids should be repotted in a course mix every two years or once the potting medium remains soggy and no longer drains properly. You will want to repot during the spring after the orchids flowers have bloomed. Before repotting, you should trim away the damaged roots with a sterile cutting tool.
The best type of pot to use for a Cymbidium orchid is a clay pot. This is because water evaporates from clay pots faster and this is better for the dryer conditions that Cymbidiums require. Cymbidiums can be divided once the orchid has bloomed and new growth is starting to show. Each division needs at least three to five pseudobulbs.
Another way to propagate a Cymbidium is to use the backbulbs which are the older pseudobulbs that have little to no leaves. Simply remove these with a sterile cutting tool and strip off any leaves that may still be on the backbulb and pot in a small container. You will need to keep the backbulbs moist and place in an area that is fairly shady. You should begin to see new growth and roots appear in only a few short months, and in as little as two to three years, a backbulb can grow into a full sized plant.
And that just about covers the basics! :-)
Next Steps: Where do you go from here?
A couple options:
#1 – More Free Cymbidium Tips!
At a minimum, I strongly recommending signing up for our orchid tips newsletter (it’s free!). That’ll give you some additional (more detailed) step-by-step tips you can start using with your Cymbidiums right away…
#2 – Get Access to ALL My Articles on Cymbidiums…
If you’d like to learn everything you need to know about Cymbidium orchid care (and caring for ALL types of orchids) we also have something called the Orchids Made Easy Green Thumb Club.
The Green Thumb Club includes a number of different benefits – including weekly lessons on all different orchid care topics delivered to you in a special, password-protected members area. You also get the opportunity to get YOUR actual questions answered in my weekly “Ask The Orchid Guy” column, which you can check out here.
The Green Thumb Club costs less than a meal at McDonald’s – and ALSO includes all sorts of ADDITIONAL benefits, including exclusive discounts at orchid suppliers from 20-40% off as well access to our “orchid diagnosis tool” which helps you identify what problem might be plaguing your plant.
Because the club is backed by a full 100% money-back guarantee for a full 30 days, if after checking it out you decide that it’s not for you or that you didn’t get value you out of what you learned – no problem! Simply send us an email to let me know, and you’ll receive a fast and courteous refund. Put it this way: If you’re not happy, I’m not happy!
(By the way, this link here will give you access to 50% off the cost of membership. A little “gift” for reading this article all the way to the end :-))
All my best,
Ryan “The Orchid Guy” :-)
IMPORTANT: To learn everything you need to know about caring for your orchids, if you haven’t already I strongly recommend signing up for the “Orchid Care Tips & Secrets Newsletter” my wife and I publish by clicking here.
It’s completely free – and the best part? You can even choose the type of information you’d like to receive (reblooming tips, basics of orchid care, etc.) Join over 20,000 fellow orchid enthusiasts young and old and sign up for our free orchid care newsletter today! :-)
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