how to grow cymbidium orchids




Cymbidium orchid



Think you need a greenhouse or have to live in California to grow cymbidiums? Think again! Today's hybrids are more amenable to growing on a windowsill and in warmer climates. We'll show you how.


Cymbidiums are among the most beautiful and long lasting of all orchids. The thick waxy blooms, often 20 or more to a spike can last for months! Many of today's "new" cymbidiums can bloom in a 5-6" inch pots and can be grown on a windowsill. These new hybrids have been made with warmer growing species, many of which are smaller statured in plant and flower size. All but the smallest of species/hybrids will need a little bit of room to grow, and will probably do best if they can spend most of the year outdoors. Though their requirements are little more exacting than other orchids, their beauty  justifies the effort. These instructions apply to growing the more warmth-tolerant cymbidiums in the mid-Atlantic states. 

Species Chinese cymbidiums are not included here.

Cymbidium-miniature plant
Cymbidium Solar Flare produces gorgeous sprays of waxy soft yellow blooms in fall. It is extremely warmth tolerant, and has set spikes in August when temperatures are over 90 degrees!
Light: Give cymbidiums as much light as you can, short of intense direct sunlight that can burn the leaves. Firm, light green foliage upright indicates that plants are getting enough light. Good air movement is essential -- especially when temperatures are above 80 and/or when humidity is high. Remember that high temperatures are better tolerated with higher humidity and more air movement. It is recommended that you place your cymbidiums outdoors in the spring as soon as temperatures are above 50 at night (and leave them out until they fall below 50 in the fall).  

Temperature: This is usually the most restrictive factor in growing cymbidiums. Like most orchids, cymbidiums need a 10 to 15 differential between night and day temperatures to thrive and bloom. They also like cool nights, especially in the fall months when flower spikes are setting. I leave my cymbidiums outdoors on a balcony until night temperature fall to about 50 in the fall before I bring them in. Most cymbidiums will do best with day temperatures no more than 80. Short periods above this will be fine but make sure your plants are well watered in a shady location. This is where some of the new warmth tolerant hybrids such as Golden Elf 'Sundust' or Solar Flare excel. These hybrids have been bred to withstand higher heat. 

 Watering and fertilizer: Water frequently, as these plants like to be moist and drink a lot. Drench the pots thoroughly when you do so. Also make sure you fertilize your cymbidiums regularly. If if they are outdoors, a timed release fertilizer may be more efficient. Like most orchids, cymbidiums can be kept little drier and fed less during the cool darker winter months.

Blooming: Flower spikes are set during the winter months when night temperatures are cool (approx 50). This is usually the hardest part for indoor grower once plants have been brought inside. Many growers will keep their cymbidiums in an unheated garage overnight and take them out during the day, or place them in a cool bright sunroom This, again, is where the warmth-tolerant hybrids have an advantage as they may not need as much of a temperature drop at night to bloom.

Continue to Part 2 of How to Grow Cymbidium Orchids

Cymbidium Solar Flare is almost 
miniature in size. It thrives in a 
6" pot and blooms in Fall. 


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