Cymbidium orchids: types and care

Cymbidium orchids are gorgeous. They are large to giant, marvelous plants with waxy beautiful flowers. Cymbidium comes from Latin “cymbda”, which means boat. Cymbidiums are sympodial epiphytic and terrestrial orchids with some round-shaped pseudobulbs and reed-shaped long leaves. Cymbidium flowers could be in different shades of yellow, pink, red, orange, brown, purple, violet, white and there are even green Cymbidium orchids with only one exception – there are no blue and true black Cymbidiums yet.

Cymbidium orchids

Cymbidium flowers are long-lasting. Their spikes can stay up to ten weeks, that is why Cymbidium orchids are very popular as cut flowers. Most Cymbidium orchids for sale at local shops are big-flowered hybrids with odorless flowers, but also there are so-called Asian or Chinese Cymbidiums with smaller but very fragrant flowers. They come from southern and eastern Asia and northern Australia. The bigger species with broader flowers grow in mountain subtropical areas, the varieties are closer to intermediate and warm climatic zones.

Care for big Cymbidiums

What’s about Cymbidium orchid care? They are rather hard in indoor culture and more suitable for greenhouses than windowsill. They can tolerate high temperatures – up to 104 F, but tolerate does not mean to thrive. Most common big Cymbidiums with large flowers are actually cool and intermediate orchids with very special growth requirements. They can grow for some period of time on a windowsill, but they cannot bloom without proper care. For such Cymbidium reblooming, you have to do some things. First, you should provide your Cymbidium with full sun – as more sun as possible, big-flowered Cymbidiums need high light. You can know which light is suitable by leave color if your Cymbidium has dark-green leaves, the light is insufficient and it will not bloom. Leaves should be bright green to light green, if so than the light is sufficient. Second, but also important, it is the temperature. The lowest temperature for big Cymbidiums is 40 F, the highest – 71-77 F. And there should be differences between day and night temperatures (night should be lower). Higher temperatures reduce photosynthesis rate and slow growth down. Also, Cymbidiums need different temperatures at different growth stage to rebloom, when new growth starts day temperature should be 68-77 F, and night temperature should be 50-59 F. When new growth is 30-35 cm high, you should lower both day and night temperatures to trigger flower spikes formation – 64-71 F at day and 46-53 F at night. Then orchid starts flower spike formation, and when it is clearly visible and doesn’t resemble new growth, you should lower day temperature down to 60 F. And when finally orchid blooming, you can increase temperature up to 72 F. And after orchid finish flowering, there is some a dormancy period, and you should lower both the temperature and watering rate until a new growth is visible. Cymbidiums are epiphytic and terrestrial orchids and need substrate with rather big water capacity. Cymbidium potting mix should contain medium bark, sphagnum moss, some cocoa chips, little peat moss, vermiculite and so on. What is about repotting cymbidium orchids? You should know that Cymbidium orchids prefer to stay in smaller pots, and there is time to repot only when orchid crush pot with its roots. And even after that, you should choose not so big pot. Cymbidiums are heavy feeders – when Cymbidium is actively growing, you should use organic, inorganic and complex balanced fertilizers.

Mini Cymbidium orchids

As you can see, big-flowered large Cymbidiums are not very suitable for windowsills – they are large, they have very specific growth requirements, which are nearly impossible to meet in indoor culture. But there is so called “mini-Cymbidiums” which are actually medium sized (they are “mini” when you compare them with other Cymbidiums) and have not so strict growth requirements.  Mini Cymbidium culture does not need so high light levels with so low temperatures, they are actually closer to intermediate and warm temperature group. For instance, Cymbidium Golden Elf is miniature warm to intermediate Cymbidium hybrid which can bloom at higher temperatures than big Cymbidium varieties, it has lovely yellow flowers, and some clones of Cymbidium Golden Elf have fairly fragrant flowers. Miniature Cymbidiums are much easier to grow, so you should consider buying Mini Cymbidium instead of big Cymbidium, if you want to enjoy its splendid flowers. As I have said, so-called “Big Cymbidiums” are more suitable for cool greenhouses and for cut flowers, but not for indoor culture.

Cymbidium  diseases

What’s about Cymbidium orchid diseases? Assuming the fact that Cymbidiums are vigorous large plants, they are quite resistant to diseases. Of course, if you grow them in wrong temperatures with poor light and systematically overwater, there is a big chance of root loss because of rotting and deadly Fusarium rhizome infection. However properly grown Cymbidium is something hard to kill. They are very prone to virus infections. They may be infected by Tobacco mosaic virus and specific Cymbidium mosaic potexvirus. Plants infected with the virus are incurable and should be incinerated, as virus infection puts entire collection to danger. So you never should use same cutting tools (scissors, pruners, and knives) without sterilization, as virus infection is transmitted with infected plant juice. It is better not to cut flower spikes until they dry, and then simply break it, this way you minimize virus transmission chances.



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Cymbidium Orchid Care: The Ultimate Pocket Guide to Cymbidium Orchids
Mary Ann Berdak
Cymbidium Orchid Care

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