Cymbidium is perhaps the most popular spray orchid in temperate countries. It however originates in Asia
. There are temperate species that come from China
, Taiwan, Myanmar
, the Himalayas and Australia, as well as tropical species from Indonesia
and the Philippines
The name Cymbidium is said to derive from the Greek kumbos
, which means "boat". This refers to the lip of the Cymbidium that resembles boats. They have short pseudobulbs with long leaves. They are untidy plants that form large clumps of leathery strap-like leaves. They can easily be grown in a mixture of burnt earth and charcoal, as well as other types of potting mix.
The flower spikes are either erect or hanging. The inflorescence comes out from the base of the mature pseudobulbs. Pseudobulbs only flower once. The flowers can last for weeks on the plants. They are often showy, and come in a variety of soft colours.
The following are some species of Cymbidiums:
- Cymbidium chloranthum
- Cymbidium ensifolium
- Cymbidium finlaysonianum
- Cymbidium lowianum
Positioning your Cymbidium
You should provide your Cymbidium with plenty of light. If you live in a temperate country, you can take your plant outside during the summer months, but bring them indoors once the temperature threaten to fall below 8°C.
Temperate species should be overwintered at 7-12°C (44-53°F) at night and 13-16°C (55-60°F) during the day.
Water your Cymbidium with lime-free, mineral-free water during the growing season. Reduce watering once the flowering is over. During dormant season, give only enough water to prevent the pseudobulbs from shrivelling up.
Apply fertiliser once every two weeks during the growing season.
Use a mixture of osmunda fibre, sphagnum moss, conifer bark and beech leaves with some coarse sand as the potting mix. You only need to report your cymbidium once every three years or so.
Cymbidiums are grown from seed.
Pests and Diseases
Look out for red spider mite and scale insects.
Author: Michael Wolf
Cymbidium hybrid Clarisse Austin
Author: Derek Ramsey
- Hamlyn Encyclopedia of House Plants, by Rob Herwig
- Orchids of Asia, by Teoh Eng Soon
- The Macdonald Encyclopedia of Orchids
- Orchid Growing in the Tropics, by the Orchid Society of South East Asia