June 18, 2009

Cymbidium Orchid

By Jan Wilson

The Cymbidium, or Boat orchid, is a very popular houseplant and their attractive, showy flowers are often used in bouquets and corsages. Flower colors can be pink, white, red, brown, yellow and light green. It is not unusual to get up to 30 flower blooms on a stem. Although the genus has approximately 50 species, orchid breeders have created thousands of hybrids. Despite originating from East Asia, their popularity as houseplants is largely due to their tolerance of temperate climates and their ability to flower during winter months. Flowers have a distinct lip and the name, Cymbidium, is derived from the Greek kumbos which means 'cavity'. When choosing a plant, select sturdy plants with healthy foliage. Check the leaf axils for signs of insect pests.

Caring for a Cymbidium orchid can be difficult in the average home. They can tolerate most light levels, but do need high humidity. This can be achieved by placing the orchid pot on a tray of pebbles covered in water. As long as the bottom of the plant container does not sit in water and the potting mix is kept moist, these orchids will grow quite happily. Ideal daytime temperatures should be about 60 degrees F, with night temperatures about 55 degrees F.

After the plant has flowered, place it where it can get extra light while it continues the growth cycle. To encourage flowering, keep the plant below 55 degrees F with about 12 hours darkness for 3 weeks. It is not necessary to fertilize the plant while they are flowering. Cymbidium can tolerate small containers (plastic or glazed containers will do) and should never be over-potted. If re-potting, ensure that you place the plant in a slightly larger pot containing an orchid peat and bark compost. Alternative potting mixes can be Osmunda fiber or fir tree bark. If your plant becomes infested with mealybugs, wash the foliage with soapy water. For scale insects, you'll need to scrape the pests off individually.

Cymbidium orchids can be challenging to the hobby gardener. Once you have chosen your Cymbidium orchid plant, you may be looking for further help with other areas of Cymbidium care. I recommend Growing Orchids for valuable Cymbidium and general orchid care advice.

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1 comment:

  1. Great information about Cymbidium orchid... Orchids are my favorite flowers...