Cymbidium orchid: cultivation techniques and main species of the Cymbidium orchid



Cultivation techniques

Note 1

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The Cymbidium is a beautiful evergreen orchid cultivated both as a flower pot and as a cut flower due to its long and large spike inflorescences where the flowers carried by short petioles bloom.

They are plants that come from from Australia, Africa and several Asian countries. THE Cymbidium cultivated were obtained thanks to different crosses, obtaining hybrids of the most different colors: pink and white flowers were obtained by crossing Cymbidium insigne is Cymbidium eburneum; yellow flowers were obtained from the Cymbidium traceyanum.

The genus name comes from the Greek kimbe «Boat» for the shape of boat that the labellum assumes.

In its natural habitat the Cymbidium it grows both as an epiphytic plant and as a terrestrial plant. However, the species grown in our homes are allEPIPHITE.

THE Cymbidium they are developing plantsSIMPODIALthat is to say they grow horizontally and develop the new shoot every year on a short rhizome.

They are plants provided with pseudobulbs which remain covered by the leaf sheaths of the leaves, arranged one against the other at ground level and connected to each other by short underground rhizomes. The pseudobulbs are covered by the leaf sheaths. The roots start from the lower part of the pseudobulbs and are fleshy and slightly branched covered with a whitish velamen.

Two types of stems also branch off from the pseudobulb (photo on the right): a floral one that will give rise to the flowers (1) and one that will give rise to the new bulbs (2)

The leaves of the Cymbidium they are long, thin and evergreen and develop from the pseudobulb at the base of the soil.

They are provided with a single very evident central rib. They can reach a length of up to one meter in the largest species and grow in number from 5 to 15 per pseudobulb.

The flowers of the Cymbidium they are variously colored: yellow, green, pink, white and can be monochromatic or with variously combined colors (see: "Main species of Cymbidium") The spikes that bear the flowers appear from September to January therefore flowering can take place starting from late autumn to spring. It produces up to 25 flowers per stem and each plant produces three or more flower stems per season.

The flower is formed by six tepals or according to another school of thought by three sepals and three petals of which the basal one is modified to form the labellum which carries a central column at the top of which is the anther. Typically the sepals and tepals are of the same color while the labellum is variously colored and mottled.

THE Cymbidium they are orchids that bloom well and without problems in places that guarantee cool summer and autumn temperatures.


THE Cymbidium they do not need particularly high temperatures in fact the optimal temperatures are around 15-18 ° C. They also withstand temperatures of 30 ° C for short periods as long as there is adequate air humidity and good air circulation.

To be sure of flowering it is important that they have a period of night temperature around 10 ° C. For this reason, until autumn (October), they can be left outdoors. The same applies during the ripening phase of the flower buds during which it is necessary to ensure that the night temperature does not exceed 12 ° C. Otherwise, the buds could fall out.

THE Cymbidium they love the air so make sure there is always good ventilation. It is good practice in late spring (around May), when the air temperature has stabilized, take them outdoors but not in direct sun. It is preferable to wait for the end of flowering before taking them outdoors because an excessive current of air or a sudden change in temperature can cause the flowers to lose.

(For more information on orchid temperature and ventilation see the article: "Orchid temperature and ventilation").

Note 1


The Cymbidium it is a particularly demanding plant in terms of light. The optimal values ​​are around 30,000 - 45,000 lux. To meet these needs, artificial light is often used during the winter.

(For more information on the light of orchids see the article: "Light needs of orchids").



THE Cymbidium they should be watered often so that the growing medium is never dry. The frequency will therefore depend on the outside temperature and the type of substrate you use.

They are plants that do not need a particularly humid environment. In fact, the humidity rate must be around 50%. In any case, during the summer if the temperature rises excessively, it is good to spray the leaves

(For more information on orchid watering see the article: "Orchid watering and humidity").


THE Cymbidium they must be fertilized regularly and varying their ratio between N: P: K according to the stage of development of the plant.

The logic to follow when administering fertilizers is as follows: to favor the vegetative restart of the plant, a greater quantity of nitrogen (N) is administered to the orchid and that is to say the formula 30:10:10 (N: P: K) is used which means: 30 parts of nitrogen, 10 parts of phosphorus (P) and 10 parts of potassium (K).

When the flowering period the nitrogen is decreased and the potassium is increased and therefore the formula 10:30:20 is used.

During the other periods we use the balanced formula 20:20:20.

Fertilizers must be dissolved in irrigation water in a very low percentage, 0.5% if used frequently (twice a week) or 1% if used once a week. In any case, never exceed 1 gr per liter of water. Obviously these indications are pertinent to inert substrates, that is to say that they do not bring any nutritional elements to the plant (in this regard see the entry: "Type of substrate and repotting of orchids"). Doses will be decreased if a non-inert substrate is used.

It is advisable that the fertilizations are carried out with the substrate is humid.

It is important never to let the substrate dry completely as there would be an excessive concentration of mineral salts. It would be advisable that after a certain number of fertilizations (4 or 5) watering is carried out without fertilizer in order to rinse the substrate and lower the salt concentration.

(For more information on orchid fertilization you can consult the article: "Orchid fertilization").


The Cymbidium it is repotted usually every 3-4 years after flowering; therefore the time of repotting varies according to when your plant blooms. This means that some plants can be repotted in early spring (March-April, in this case they have not yet formed the new roots and therefore the transfer is very serene) others in late spring (May-June, in this case the plant is in full vegetative activity, and it would not be advisable to proceed, but it is still advisable to do so if the plant shows signs of suffering). If yours Cymbidium for various reasons it did not flower that year, repot it in early spring (March-April).

Before repotting the orchid should be wet well to make the roots more elastic and thus avoid breakage. The roots must be cleaned of all the material that remains attached to them and the dead ones must be removed with shears that you have first disinfected well with alcohol or bleach.

THE Cymbidium they do not like to be disturbed therefore repotting is carried out only when the pseudobulbs are too dense and occupy all the space of the pot. Proceed with great caution and try to disturb the roots as little as possible and be careful to eliminate only the dead ones and also the small pseudobulbs that have no leaves or buckets. Each cutting surface must be done with well-sharpened knives and previously disinfected and the cutting surfaces must be treated with broad spectrum fungicidal powders that you will find from a good nurseryman.

How type of soil you can use either a ready-made soil for orchids easily available from a good nurseryman or use, for example, bark (or sphagnum or beech leaves) mixed with polystyrene to which you can add perlite or foam rubber that serve to maintain humidity . Whatever substrate you use, it is essential to ensure good drainage (the larger pieces should be placed on the bottom of the pot). The Cymbidium does not tolerate water stagnation and it is therefore advisable that the substrate and the pot can favor the rapid draining of the watering water therefore make sure that the container you have chosen has an adequate number of drainage holes (otherwise equip yourself with suitable tools to increase them ).

After the orchid is repotted, leave it dry and away from direct light and temperature changes for about seven days to allow the cut parts to heal. Therefore watering must be resumed very gradually. Once the root activity has resumed, resume feeding the fertilizer.

For what concern type of container choose the one you prefer (there are the most varied and here your imagination is the host). For the Cymbidium, not liking to be disturbed, it is preferable to choose a slightly oversized container (maximum 30-35 cm) in order to make fewer repottings. It is important that the container has been previously washed and disinfected with either alcohol or bleach. It would also be advisable that, if you do not use gloves, your hands are also well cleaned before proceeding.

(For more information on the type of soil and repotting of orchids you can consult the article: "Type of substrate and repotting of orchids").


The ears of Cymbidium bearing flowers appear in early autumn (September) until the end of winter (February), therefore flowering can take place from autumn to early spring.

In any case, from the moment of formation of the ear to the moment of the birth of the flowers, there is a variable time from plant to plant and from the breeding conditions: almost contemporary to the birth of the flower buds or even delayed by a few months.

Before taking them outdoors, as soon as the warm season begins, wait for the flowering to finish because an excessive current of air or a sudden change in temperature can cause the flowers to lose.

The bud that will bear the flowers has a characteristic appearance (1) pointed at the top and very rounded and wrapped in leaves.

As it grows, the tip becomes bigger and bigger until buds sprout, in variable numbers, which will bloom starting from those placed lower and lastly those placed higher.

It is a good idea, once the flower stems have been formed, to tie them to a support as they very often bend under the weight of the flowers. Once the stem has faded, it must be cut at the base.

To be sure of the flowering of yours Cymbidium it is important that they have a period of night temperature around 10 ° C during the summer period. For this reason, during the summer they should be placed outdoors in a slightly shaded place where they can remain until late October. This condition must also exist for the Cymbidium living in the apartment and must persist for the entire time of the opening of the flower buds otherwise they will fall.


Regarding orchid diseases Cimbydium see the chapter: "Diseases and treatments of orchids".


If you are new to orchids, you can start with this species as it is easily adaptable and not difficult to grow, it also blooms easily and the flowers remain in bloom for up to two months if the environment is not too hot and dry.


See: «Orchids - The language of flowers and plants».

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1. Images taken from the Orchid Flower Fruit Plant Tree Pictures website

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