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Cymbidium Orchid – A Complete Guide for Gardeners

Cymbidium Orchid – A Complete Guide for Gardeners

Orchids are renowned for their exquisite beauty and captivating charm, and among the many varieties, Cymbidium orchids stand out as one of the most popular choices for gardeners. These majestic flowers have mesmerised enthusiasts for centuries with their vibrant colours, elegant forms, and long-lasting blooms. If you’re a gardening enthusiast eager to explore the wonders of Cymbidium orchids, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the essential knowledge and tips to cultivate and care for these remarkable plants.

Cymbidium Orchid – A Complete Guide for Gardeners

Understanding Cymbidium Orchids:

Cymbidium orchids, also known as boat orchids, are native to the Asian tropics and subtropics. They are renowned for their robust growth and stunning flower displays. With an impressive array of colours, shapes, and sizes, Cymbidium orchids have become a favourite among gardeners and collectors worldwide.

Choosing the Right Cymbidium Orchid
When selecting a Cymbidium orchid, consider factors such as colour preference, flower size, and growth habit. Additionally, pay attention to the health of the plant, ensuring it has firm, green pseudobulbs and disease-free leaves. By choosing a healthy specimen, you lay a strong foundation for successful cultivation.

Light and temperature requirements:

Cymbidium orchids thrive in bright, indirect light. They prefer a balance of sunlight and shade, so placing them in an east- or west-facing window is ideal. Protect them from the intense midday sun, which can scorch the leaves. As for temperature, Cymbidium orchids appreciate cool to intermediate conditions, typically between 50°F (10°C) and 75°F (24°C) during the day and 45°F (7°C) and 60°F (15°C) at night.

Potting and Growing Medium:

Cymbidium orchids are epiphytic in nature, meaning they naturally grow on trees and absorb moisture from the air and rain. When potting them, use a well-draining medium such as orchid bark, sphagnum moss, or a combination of the two. Avoid over-potting, as Cymbidium orchids prefer slightly cramped conditions.

Watering and Humidity:

Maintaining proper moisture levels is crucial for Cymbidium orchids. Water them thoroughly when the growing medium starts to dry out, usually every 7–10 days. During active growth, increase watering frequency, but ensure the roots don’t sit in standing water. High humidity is essential for healthy growth, so consider using a humidity tray or a humidifier to create a suitable environment.


Feed your Cymbidium orchids regularly during the growing season. Choose a balanced orchid fertiliser and apply it every two to three weeks. Dilute the fertiliser to half the recommended strength to prevent root burn. Reduce or halt fertilisation during the dormant period to allow the plants to rest.

Pruning and repotting:

Prune Cymbidium orchids after flowering to remove spent blooms and maintain plant health. Repotting is typically necessary every two to three years or when the growing medium breaks down. Choose a larger pot if the pseudobulbs have outgrown the current container, and repot using fresh orchid mix.

Pests and Diseases:

Cymbidium orchids can be susceptible to pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation, and if detected, take appropriate measures to control them. Additionally, watch out for fungal and bacterial infections, which can be prevented by ensuring good air circulation and avoiding

Fertiliser Options

When it comes to fertilising Cymbidium orchids, there are several options to consider. Here are a few commonly used fertilisers for these beautiful plants:

Balanced Orchid Fertiliser: Look for a balanced orchid fertiliser specifically formulated for epiphytic orchids like Cymbidiums. These fertilisers typically have an equal ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), such as 20-20-20 or 10-10-10. They provide a good all-around nutritional balance for the orchids.

Slow-Release Fertiliser: Slow-release fertilisers come in granular form and release nutrients gradually over an extended period, usually several months. They are convenient for those who prefer a “set it and forget it” approach. Apply the granules to the growing medium, following the package instructions.

Organic Fertilisers: Organic fertilisers are derived from natural sources and provide a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option. Examples include fish emulsion, seaweed extract, and compost tea. These organic options supply nutrients to the orchids while also enhancing soil health.

Foliar Fertilisers: Foliar fertilisers are liquid fertilisers that can be sprayed directly onto the leaves of Cymbidium orchids. They are quickly absorbed by the foliage, providing a fast nutrient boost. Use a diluted solution of the recommended foliar fertiliser and mist the leaves once every few weeks, ensuring thorough coverage.

Homemade Orchid Fertilisers: Some gardeners prefer creating their own homemade fertilisers. For instance, you can make orchid fertiliser by diluting compost or worm castings in water and using the resulting liquid to water your plants. Homemade options offer a cost-effective and natural alternative, but it’s important to ensure the nutrient balance is suitable for the orchids’ needs.

Regardless of the type of fertiliser you choose, it’s essential to follow the instructions provided on the package. Avoid over-fertilisation, as this can lead to nutrient imbalances and damage to the plant’s roots. Always dilute the fertiliser to half or a quarter of the recommended strength to prevent burning the orchid’s sensitive roots.

Remember, fertilisation should be done during the active growth phase of the Cymbidium orchids, typically from spring to early fall. Reduce or stop fertilising during the dormant period, allowing the plants to rest and prepare for the next growing season.

Regularly monitor your orchids’ growth and adjust the fertilisation routine based on their specific needs. With proper fertilisation, you can provide the necessary nutrients to promote healthy foliage, robust pseudobulbs, and abundant blooms in your Cymbidium orchids.

Cymbidium orchids rest period

During the rest period, Cymbidium orchids experience a natural dormancy phase. This period is essential for the plants to recharge and prepare for the next growing season. Here are some important considerations for the rest period of Cymbidium orchids:

Timing: The rest period for Cymbidium orchids typically occurs during the winter months. This varies depending on your geographical location and the specific cultivar of orchid you have. Pay attention to the natural climate cycles in your area to determine when your orchids naturally go dormant.

Reduced Watering: During the rest period, Cymbidium orchids require less frequent watering. This is because their growth slows down, and the cooler temperatures and shorter days affect their water needs. Allow the growing medium to dry out slightly between waterings, but ensure that the pseudobulbs do not completely shrivel.

Temperature and light: Cymbidium orchids benefit from cooler temperatures during the rest period. Aim for temperatures between 45°F (7°C) and 60°F (15°C) at night, which helps initiate and maintain dormancy. Additionally, reduce the amount of light the orchids receive by moving them to a slightly shadier location. This helps simulate the natural light conditions they would experience during the winter.

Fertilisation: Reduce or halt fertilisation during the rest period. Orchids naturally have lower nutrient requirements during dormancy, and applying fertiliser can lead to imbalances or damage to the roots. Resume fertilisation once the active growth phase begins in the spring.

Pruning: The rest period is an excellent time to inspect your Cymbidium orchids for any dead or damaged leaves, pseudobulbs, or flower spikes. Prune away any unhealthy or unsightly growth to maintain the overall health and appearance of the plant.

Monitoring: While Cymbidium orchids are in their rest period, continue to monitor them for signs of pests, diseases, or any other issues. Treat any problems promptly to prevent them from spreading and affecting the orchids’ health.

Environmental Conditions: Ensure that the orchids are kept in a suitable environment during the rest period. Provide good air circulation to prevent the development of fungal diseases, but avoid exposing the plants to cold draughts or excessively dry conditions.


How often should I water my Cymbidium orchid?

Cymbidium orchids prefer to dry out slightly between waterings. As a general guideline, water them thoroughly when the top inch of the potting medium feels dry. The frequency may vary depending on environmental conditions, so it’s best to check the moisture level regularly.

What kind of light do Cymbidium orchids require?

Cymbidium orchids thrive in bright, indirect light. They prefer a location with filtered sunlight, such as an east-facing window or a shaded spot outdoors.Intense, direct sunlight should be avoided because it can cause leaf burn.

How often should I fertilize my Cymbidium orchid?

During the active growing season (spring and summer), it’s recommended to fertilize Cymbidium orchids every two to four weeks. Use a balanced orchid fertilizer or a formula specifically formulated for Cymbidiums, following the instructions on the product label. Reduce or stop fertilizing during the dormant period (fall and winter

When and how should I repot my Cymbidium orchid?

Cymbidium orchids are typically repotted every two to three years, or when the potting medium begins to break down or become compacted. The best time to repot is after the orchid has finished blooming and enters its dormant phase. Use a well-draining orchid potting mix and carefully remove the orchid from its old pot, trimming any dead or damaged roots before placing it in the new pot.

How do I encourage my Cymbidium orchid to bloom?

Cymbidium orchids generally require a period of cool temperatures (50-65°F or 10-18°C) to initiate blooming. Providing a temperature drop for several weeks, typically in the range of 55-60°F (13-15°C), can stimulate flower spike development. Additionally, ensure the orchid receives adequate light, appropriate fertilization, and proper care throughout the year to support blooming.

How do I prevent pests on my Cymbidium orchid?

Common pests that can affect Cymbidium orchids include aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation, such as sticky residue, distorted leaves, or visible insects. If pests are detected, treat them with appropriate organic or chemical insecticides, following the product instructions. Good air circulation, proper hygiene, and avoiding overwatering can help prevent pest problems.

Can I grow Cymbidium orchids indoors?

Yes, Cymbidium orchids can be grown indoors if provided with proper light and environmental conditions. Choose a bright location near a window with filtered sunlight. Indoor humidity levels can be low, so it may be helpful to use a humidifier or place the orchid on a tray with water and pebbles to increase humidity around the plant.

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