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HOW TO PLANT, GROW, AND CARE FOR Cymbidium

Cymbidium

Cymbidium is an indoor plant, which is highly ornamental and unlike other orchids isn’t demanding with respect to care and watering regime. The plant blooms during mid-to-late summer and hence, a certain temperature is needed.  The flowers need proper level of sunlight especially during winters.  During summer, it is advised to keep them in the shade in afternoon.

Temperature

Unlike other orchids, cymbidium prefers cooler temperatures. In summer it has to be below 30 degrees whereas in winters, keep it between 10-14 degrees for the betterment of the plants. You can keep the orchids outside from June to September but keep shifting them in shade or vice versa to prevent damage from direct Sun as well as frost.

Flowering

The flowering phase for cymbidium occurs in summer, precisely when drop in night and day temperature is evident as well as there is bright light during daytime.  Just make sure that you place the plant outdoors in shade to help it acclimatize to the natural and conducive environment as it needs such climate for flower spike initiation.  Warmer climates can lead to bud drop and if you want to place cymbidium outside for ornamental purposes, wait until the buds have made way for flowers.

The flowers, when at their blooming best can be quite heavy for the stem. Hence, it is advised that you support them with a bamboo cane.

Cymbidium makes for gorgeous cut flowers and can last for six to eight weeks generally. Always make sure to have long stems for cut flowers so that their vase life can be extended.

Watering

Depending on the weather and season, the water intake of cymbidium differs.  However, one should let the soil dry out a bit before the next watering session. Well-drained soil is must for the gardening of cymbidium.  If you have picked the plant from greenhouse or controlled climate gardens, you might need to water it too often.   In summer, the plant might require more water whereas in winters and during humid climate, it might not.  It is recommended to keep the gap of 2 to 4 weeks between watering sessions in winters.

Fertilizers:

Liquid fertilizers are recommended of half strength in spring and winter. In fact, if you don’t want to spray the plants with fertilizers in winter, that is totally fine too. However, you might want to increase the intensity of fertilizer to double in summer and replace the liquid fertilizer with orchid special potassium fertilizer.

Repotting

Repotting of orchids is quite easy and regular repotting ensures the proper, overall development of the plant.  The best time to repot orchid is in spring just after its flowering phase.  

Cymbidium orchids are indoor flowers and their roots don’t need light. Hence, you don’t need clear pots.  But a little moist layer of compost inside works well.

If the compost has been in the use for more than two years or the plant has overgrown its pot, it signals its repotting time before new growth happens.

The roots of cymbidium tend to divide themselves in large pseduobulbs. Take an old blunt knife and saw through its centre in such case. Make sure there aren’t more than 5 pseudobulbs for proper flowering.

You need to get down to the dirty jobs now. Untangle the roots with fingers and remove the traces of old compost as well as cut dead roots with secateurs.  The hollowness, brown color, mushiness and shrivel appearance of dead roots give them away.

Cut the healthy roots till their whitest and most firm part. By this logic, you should be reducing them to 6 to 6inches.

Since you are eyeing an expansion of the plant, pick a pot that could accommodate the plant for at least 2 years.  Basically, you should be taking a pot 4cm in diameter. However, too large pot can create root rot as the compost will remain wet for longer periods.

Orchids can be very sensitive to floral food and preservative. Hence, ask your florist for orchid compost especially when you are repotting them.

Put the plant gently in the new plant and fill it with fresh compost around the roots.  Press the compost in such a manner that when you attempt to lift the plant, the pot and soil is lifted with it. Loose compost can damage the root tips of the repotted plant, causing it to wilt and die.

Water the plant thoroughly to ensure that even rootball is moistened.  However, don’t let the water sit in the pot unless it can lead to root rot.  

Propagation:

Plants should be divided at the time of repotting.  Choose three healthy pseudobulbs that are still firm and white in appearance. Pseudobulbs that are brown in color and mushy are dead and can’t be used.  These divisions will need at least two to three years of time to flower again.

Pests:

Pests like red spider mite, slug, snail, aphids and mealybug are the major pain points for orchid lovers.

Species you should try:

Cymbidium erythrostylum grow compact flowers of white and red color.  Tracyanum have tall stems that offer yellow green flower with stripes of brown on them. Tigrinum has flowers in hanging clusters of yellow and green colors with distinguished purple lips.