Cymbidium orchids are a favourite of the gardeners as well as people who grow commercial cut flowers. These orchids have an easy culture and a display of plentiful flowers that last for a long time.
The typical cymbidium hybrids produce numerous flower spikes each having a height of 3 feet to 4 feet during the period between February and beginning of May. In fact, some plants start producing their flowering spikes as early as Christmas.
Each of these spikes may bear as many as thirty flowers each measuring anything between 4 inches and 5 inches across. The blossoms of cymbidium orchids have an intense texture and they remain intact on the plants for 8 months or perhaps even more.
The cut flowers of this orchid also last equally long and as far as their popularity is concerned cymbidium orchids are prominent rivals of cattleya orchids. The egg-shaped pseudo bulbs of the orchids are firmly bunched and they are covered with bases of the elegantly arching leaves which are strap-shaped.
Different from several other orchids, cymbidiums are attractive plants even when they are not in bloom. All these orchids are natives of Japan, India and Australia. Orchids that bear large flowers are indigenous to high, cool mountains and, hence, they blossom only when the nights are cool.
You may grow these orchids outdoors during the warm summers in places where winters are cold, but take them indoors much before the first frost of the season. Cymbidium orchid species that are native to China and Japan are relatively smaller in size and have been grown in pots for centuries.
These days such orchids are becoming popular in other places too. There are a small number of dwarf orchid species which have been involved in producing several hybrids and miniatures that have hanging flower spikes. A few of these orchid species are said to be warm growers as they are able to blossom even when the nights are not cool.
They are different from the orchids that need cool nights to produce large flowers. The “easy culture” orchids mentioned above do not require a few prerequisites. It is worth mentioning here that on the Pacific Coast, the typically large cymbidium orchids are very well-liked as outdoor container plants, which require cool nights for them to start producing buds.
As long as these orchids are not left in the sun and they are not affected by sunburn, they have no problem whatsoever with high temperature during the day. However, the temperature during the night should not be beyond 60°F (16°C) during the fall.
Otherwise they would not initiate bearing flower buds. Even then, between March and October – the period when new growth emerge and mature, cymbidium orchids require to be watered at small intervals. Later, you may decrease their water supply.
However, you need to ensure that the temperature during the nights should be in the range of 45°F and 55°F (7°C and 13°C). This is a must if the plants need to produce flowers. The plants are capable of enduring temperatures up to 28°F (-2°C), but the flower spikes of the orchids are tender and frosts may destroy them.
When there is forecast of the temperature dropping very low, you should move the orchids grown outdoors to a garage or any deep overhang. You may also shift them into a shed and cover them with a cloth or plastic. However, you need to ensure that neither the cloth, plastic nor any other covering material touches the orchids.
If you wish to grow these terrestrial orchids, you can choose from a wide range of potting mixes available in the market. Nearly all these potting mixes have a fine quality fir bark as their base. The fir bark is mixed with other materials that are capable of retaining moisture, for instance leaf mold, peat moss or sponge rock.
Some of these mixes also include fertilizers. However, the most vital aspect of any potting mix includes its ability to drain water rapidly as well as retain the amount of water necessary for the plants.
At the same time, the pots should also be able to drain water freely. While clay pots are good as far as drainage is concerned. But most people prefer plastic pots that have drainage holes at their bottom and also at the sides.
Plastic pots are also popular and used widely because they are lightweight and do not add to the plants weight, especially when the plants grow very large. During their growing season, you should ensure that cymbidium orchids get sufficient light so that their foliage is yellowish green.
If the foliage of your orchid is bluish green or dark green, you should that they are getting insufficient light and as a result of this the plants may not produce flowers adequately. When your orchids are enduring enough, you should grow them outdoors beneath lath or in light shade during the afternoon.
Many orchid growers have reported that they have successfully growing their orchids at the edge of porches facing eastwards. So that they are able to receive the full morning sun and some modified light during the remaining part of the day. Cymbidium orchids need plenty of feed.
Ideally, you should provide them with a complete liquid fertilizer once in two weeks between January and July end. At the same time, you need to prune the plants once every month between August and December. Using slow release fertilizers will lessen your feeding job.
However, you should always us the slow release fertilizers as per the instructions on the package. Since the cymbidium orchids produce their best flowers when their roots are packed out, it is necessary to transplant them when the pseudo bulbs start crowding at the pot’s edge.
The ideal time to transplant these orchids is immediately after their flowering is over. Take out the orchid from its existing container, if you find this to be a difficult task, you may slip out the orchid; place the container upside down holding it by its edges and strike it firmly against a well-built bench, desk or even a fence rail.
Separate the potting mix or the old bark from the roots; get rid of dead roots, if there are any; and trim the live roots to about half of their original length. In case you also want to divide your orchid at this time, you need to cut the rhizome from side to side using a pruning shears or a heavy knife.
In each of the divisions, leave at least three leaves attached to the pseudo bulbs. While transplanting your orchid to a new container, ensure that you never use a pot that is quite a few size larger compared to the existing pot in which the plant is growing.
It is best to go for a pot that will permit no more than 2 inches or 3 inches between the edge of the plant and the side of the new pot. Always bear in mind that to some extent, you would want to preserve the same crowded conditions in the new pot too.
In the new pot, you should add moistened potting mix or bark, stuff it down and subsequently hold the orchid in the right place with one hand and use your other hand to drop the potting mix along the sides of the pot. Position your orchid in such a manner that there is some space for the growing point or leading edge, and continue adding bark and stuff it tightly around the plant’s roots.
Water the plants lightly till the new growth emerges. Subsequently, again continue watering as well as feeding the orchid on a regular basis, following the right schedule. At the same time, ensure that you sterilize your tools before as well as after using them to cut any orchid tissue.
You may also use pseudo bulbs without leaves or black bulbs for starting new orchids. Each of these pseudo bulbs or black bulbs will contain a small bud at its base. Position the bulb vertically when new growth is visible. Subsequently, plant the bulb along with the emerging new growth in potting mix.
The new growths of the bulb should be positioned at the level of the soil. Gradually, the bud will develop into a foliage fan. If you handle it with care and provide it with adequate water and feed, in another two to three years you will have another flowering orchid.
This is an orchid with stiff, thick leaves and has clustered pseudo bulbs. The stems are long and arching and produces numerous flowers, each measuring about 1 ½ inches (4 cm) wide. The sepals of the flowers are purple, brown or pale red, while the petals have a creamy-white hue, with their lips marked in red color.
Of late, a Cymbidium canaliculatum orchid variety having pure green sepals and petals with contrasting white lips are being grown in Australia. The flower of this species of orchid is very attractive. Presently, this orchid is being propagated and it should be available more readily soon.
It has been found that cymbidium canaliculatum (C. canaliculatum) orchid avoids damp coastal as well as mountainous regions in nature. It is generally found growing in the arid western side of the Great Dividing Range downwards to the eastern toast of the continent nation.
Typically, flowers of this orchid species are found on partially hollow branches or even on decaying logs with the plants’ roots making their way into the branches or logs. The roots of this orchid species are never exposed. The original habitat of this orchid variety is areas receiving low rainfall, excellent light and usually full sun.
While it is in cultivation, this orchid species is taken care of as an epiphyte. It is applied with the same potting medium that is also used for cattleyas and the medium is dried between waterings. During the winter months, this orchid species should be provided with strong light and sporadic watering.
This orchid species is found growing in the Himalayan foothills and is treated as best as an epiphyte or lithophytes. Cymbidium devonianum produces broad, leathery leaves little in the form of a pseudo bulb. For the inexperienced orchid grower, when the orchids are not in bloom, it should not be considered to be a cymbidium.
This orchid species produces pendulous flower stems that bear various shades of flowers, each measuring about 1 ¼ inches (3 cm) across. The flowers of this orchid species appear in shades of red, green and brown. The inflorescence of cymbidium devonianum will usually grow downwards much below the base of the container.
As in the case of nearly all pendulous cymbidium orchids, you should suspend the pot when it is in bloom. It is important to note that like in the case of other orchids, you should never try to use stakes to hold the flowering stems upright when they are in the developing stage.
When forced to remain upright with help of stakes, the flowering stems will not grow any longer. As a result the stems will remain short and bear bunched flowers. You may cultivate C. devonianum in the same way as you grow other species of cymbidium orchids. Actually cymbidium devonianum is not a large orchid and it finds mention in the parentage of several miniature cymbidium orchids.
This orchid species produces long sprays of yellowish-brown or orange-red flowers that hang down from the warm-growing orchid, which is indigenous to the Philippines. The sprays of this cymbidium finlaysonianum orchid are about 4 feet in length.
Cymbidium insigne is indigenous to China, Thailand and Vietnam. The leaves of this orchid are about a yard long, while the flower spikes grow up to a height of about 5 feet. This orchid species bears white or light pink flowers and are spotted with red.
Each flower of cymbidium insigne measures about 4 inches across. This orchid is a cool grower, meaning it requires cool night temperatures to initiate budding. This orchid is a parent of the typically large hybrid orchids.
Cymbidium lowianum and cymbidium insigne are similar in size and both these orchids are native to the same regions. This orchid is a cool grower and produces large, arching flowering spikes. The flowers of cymbidium lowianum are green with red markings. This orchid is also an important parent of the modern day hybrid orchids.
A warm grower, cymbidium madidum is indigenous to Australia. It grows in cluster of 2 feet and produces brown or green flowers that are exceptionally fragrant. The individual flowers measure about an inch wide. This orchid species has been used for breeding hanging-basket orchid hybrids that boast of flower clusters growing up to 4 feet in length.
Cymbidium tigrinum is among the smallest orchids in its genus and grows only up to a height of 8 inches (20 cm). The small leaves of this orchid species are wide and round, while the pseudo bulbs are clustered. Like the cymbidium devonianum in its genus, this orchid should also not be considered as a cymbidium when it is not in bloom.
The flower stems of this orchid species are short, each bearing about three pale, yellowish-green flowers having a white lip. The individual flowers of cymbidium tigrinum measures about 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Compared to what the description of the flowers may hint, actually the blossoms of this orchid are more interesting.
Cymbidium tigrinum is a cool grower orchid and you may cultivate it in the same way as you would grow any other standard cymbidium orchid. The flowers of this orchid unfurl toward the end of spring. Cymbidium tigrinum has a number of beautiful hybrid orchids whose white lips are usually predominant.
People who find that the normal cymbidium orchids are very large as well as require very low temperatures have the option of growing and enjoying the miniature and hybrid orchids, which are somewhere between the large standard orchids and many smaller orchid species, especially C. pumilum. It is much easier to bring these relatively smaller varieties to flower.
They not only bear numerous flowers, but grow up to a rational size (often growing up to a height of 1 ½ feet to 2 feet). These petite orchids can be used indoors for home decoration and also be grown in a small greenhouse.
However, compared to the flowers of standard cymbidium orchids, the blossoms of the petite versions are smaller, but they appear in profusion and in the same colors as the standard orchids – white, red, pink, brown, yellow and green. Usually, the lips of the flowers have contrasting hues.
Compared to the normal cymbidium orchids, the hybrids and miniatures have a tendency to blossom earlier. Some of these varieties will start flowering as early as July. Since many miniature cymbidium orchids were bred to enable them to endure warmth, often they fail to flower when they are grown outdoors in conditions that are actually suitable for the normal cymbidium orchids.
However, the plants will thrive when they are provided with conditions that are suitable for cattleya orchids. Therefore, before you purchase any particular orchid, it is always prudent to find out about its growing conditions.
Cymbidium suave is native to Australia and is more often than not grown on eucalyptus trees as an epiphyte. In Australia, this orchid species is grown in the region from the Tropic of Capricorn downwards to the border areas of Victoria in the range of latitude 120°.
Cymbidium suave is a miniature orchid and like other plants in the genus produces slender, stiff leaves and grows up to a height of about 20 inches (50 cm) and does not have any pseudo bulb. The flower stems are pendulous and they produce many flowers having shades of green, while some may be brushed with brown.
Each flower of this miniature cymbidium orchid measures about ¾ inch (2 cm) across. Cymbidium suave is a delightful orchid species that needs to be cultivated more widely. However, it appears that this miniature orchid is more popular outside Australia.
Good light as well as rapidly draining potting medium is essential to grow this orchid species. Since the plant does not like being disturbed, you should allow it to grow in the same pot for as long as it is possible. As far as the ideal temperature for growing cymbidium suave is concerned, it is largely dependent on the place from where it actually came.
Incidentally, as mentioned earlier, the native of this orchid is a vast region having different climatic conditions. In most cases, cymbidium suave will grow well along with other cymbidium species. In the case of other cymbidium species you normally get rid of the old dead leaf bases. However, never try to do this with cymbidium suave as it may damage a part of the living tissues of the plant.
Dwarf cymbidium species
These orchids have often been depicted in classical Japanese and Chinese art and have been treasured as house plants in various regions of Asia for over 2,000 years. As the name suggests, the plants of these orchids are diminutive and produce very small, occasionally subterranean, pseudo bulbs.
The foliage of the dwarf cymbidium species are like grass and elegantly arching. The flower spikes of this cymbidium orchid variety are erect and small. They bear typically orchid-shaped flowers that are wonderfully fragrant.
Over the years, dwarf cymbidium orchid species have been gaining in popularity and now they are appreciated from Australia to the orchid-growing community worldwide.
Rather than naming the places where cymbidium ensifolium species is grown, it would be much easier to name the places where it is not grown these days. In fact, this dwarf cymbidium species is grown in nearly all the countries where you will find the other species of the genus.
Mainly, cymbidium ensifolium is a terrestrial species that grows up to a modest size and bears 12 fragrant flowers in green or greenish-brown colors towards the end of summer or beginning of fall. Each flower of this orchid species measures about 2 inches (5 cm) wide.
It is the parent of many present day hybrid orchids, for instance it is well-known for being a parent of the tetraploid Cym. Peter Pan “Greensleeves”. In turn, cymbidium ensifolium is responsible for prolonging the flowering season of many modern hybrids by giving rise to nice-looking offspring that bloom from the middle of summer to the end of the season.
The blossoms from nearly all these hybrid orchids do not last for long when they are cut. So, it is better to admire their beauty on the plant. Another similar species is Cym. sinense and both these have been utilized to produce new hybrids that are able to endure high temperature and can flower even when grown in the tropics. It is worth mentioning here that most such breeding are being pioneered in Florida.
Cymbidium floribundum (C. pumilum)
The flower spike of cymbidium floribundum orchid is 16 feet long and it is packed with numerous red or reddish flowers, each measuring about 1 ½ inches wide. This orchid flowers in spring and is a parent of several miniature cymbidium orchids.
Cymbidium goeringii (C. virescens, C. formosanum)
Cymbidium georingii is known as the spring orchid in Asia since its short flowering stem bears a solitary yellowish white or pale green flower in the beginning of spring.
Cymbidium kanran bears numerous small flowers, whose color ranges from green to red. When this orchid is in blooms in winter, its flowers decorate the entire plant. Some versions of this dwarf cymbidium orchid also produces leaves with white stripes.
The leaves of cymbidium lancifolium are comparatively broad, measuring 1 ½ inches in width and 8 inches in length. The flower stalk of this dwarf cymbidium species grows up to a foot tall and bears as many as six flowers, each measuring about 2 inches wide. The color range of the flowers varies from white to green having red veins and spots.
Cymbidium sinense (C.fragrans, C. hoosai)
Cymbidium sinense is the national flower of China. This dwarf cymbidium orchid species bears deep red flowers that are exceptionally fragrant. While the individual flower measures about 2 inches wide, the flowering stem grows up to a height of 2 ½ feet. This orchid is in bloom during the middle of winter, right in time when the Chinese celebrate their New Year.