Cymbidiums boast some of the most dramatic flowers in the orchid kingdom. Depending on your climate, growing cymbidium orchids can be easy - to somewhat challenging.
Cymbidiums are easy growers in temperate climates such as California, where they're grown outside year round. The warm, sunny days (75-90 degrees) and cool nights (40-55 degrees) found in this area are perfect for these plants.
Unfortunately, Cymbidiums just aren't suited for growing growing indoors. If you live in a northern climate, and your only growing area is indoors, growing cymbidiums (that bloom) will be a challenge. Without lots of sun and cool evening temperatures (in the 40-50 degree range) you can grow good looking plants, but they just won't bloom. And, after all, isn't that why we grow orchids?
Don't worry. Even if you're climate challenged, you can still grow these orchids and enjoy their magnificent blooms. Just remember, plant care for these orchids is goung to be a little different from other orchids.
Not difficult, just different.
How to Grow Cymbidiums
Cymbidiums require lots of light - more than almost any other orchid. Without proper light you'll see weak growth and no flowers. If you can't move your plant outside during the summer months, these plants are probably not for you.
Mature cymbidiums need several hours of direct morning or afternoon sun. Leaves are always a good indicator of proper light. They should be light green with a tinge of yellow - dark green means not enough light and your plants won't bloom. Too much sun and the leaves will turn yellow or bleached white.
Cymbidiums require temperatures that range from 40-90 degrees. That means 90 degrees during the day and 40 degrees at night.
To initiate blooming, keep your plants outside until temperatures drop into the low 40's. You might even see frost - don't worry - these plants can take it! Damage occurs if temps drop below 30 degrees however.
When it's time to come inside, put your plants in sunny window and keep them as cool as possible, preferably around 55 degrees at night. Too warm and the buds will turn yellow and drop off.
Watering Cymbidiums varies with the season. Outside, your plants will be actively growing and they like more water. Water to 1/4 or 1/2 on gauge. Then wait until bottom of pot is dry before rewatering.
In the fall, when the plants are moved back indoors, cut back on the watering. Water until the gauge moves - then stop! Don't rewater until bottom of pot is dry.
In March, after blooms have faded, reduce watering even more. Just run water through the pebbles once a week to keep the plant from dehydrating. Don't allow standing water at the base. Cymbidiums go dormant for a month or two so don't expect new growth. This is the best time for transplanting into larger pots if necessary. It's also the best time to transfer to hydroponics. See Transplanting Cymbidiums into Hydroponics.
Nutrition also varies with the season.
During their active growing season outside cymbidiums are heavy feeders. Apply nutrients at full strength every watering. Occasional rain showers balance the nutrition program by providing clear water between feedings. Werecommend and use Dyna-Gro Grow Formula7-9-5. Every couple of waterings add Dyna-Gro Mag-Pro 2-15-4 to the mix to give the flowering process a boost.
When the plants are moved indoors in the fall stop all nutrients! This encourages the bloom cycle to begin. When flower spikes appear, apply Dyna-Gro Bloom Formula.
After the last blooms have faded eliminate all nutrients again until plants are moved outside.
Cymbidiums are excellent candidates for our hydroponic system . The LECA pebbles never breakdown or decay, insuring a healthy root system. Because the pebbles are a sterile ceramic, they won't attract insects while your plant is outside. And you never have to repot because the media is deteriorating.
The water gauge makes watering easy through the different seasons. Our system is clean and easy to use, both inside and outside.
When growing Cymbidiums outside, adjustments to our hydroponic system are necessary to accomodate the extra water from rain showers (and watering with a garden hose). Normally, the decorative outer container acts as a reservoir, storing the nutrient solution. Outside, frequent rain showers tend to fillup the outer pot, overflowing the system. We replace the outer pot with a shallow saucer that is only 1/2 inch deep. When it rains, excess water overflows the saucer and drains away, keeping the plant from drowning.
Cut a plastic saucer that fits the bottom of the culture pot to about 1/2" deep