Caring for cymbidiums

Cymbidiums and dendrobiums
Orchids have something of a reputation for being delicate and difficult to grow, but with a few simple measures, cymbidiums will last a lifetime. They like night-time temperatures of between 10 and 15°C, although they tolerate temps down to 5°C, or slightly lower. Mine live outdoors year-round, but if the temperatures in your area are cooler, grow them in a greenhouse or bring them under cover of a porch or sunroom in early winter. Mine also reside in pots. That’s so they can be moved to a spot with overhead protection when in flower, as rain and hail have more than once damaged the flowers. Slugs and snails also like to munch on the flowers, leaving them with pock-marked petals, so put out bait if you want to keep these slippery critters away.

Plants in flower should be given lower light levels to preserve flower longevity, so bringing them indoors may be a good idea. But don’t bring them in before the flowers open. If temperatures are above 14ºC at night (which is easily the case in heated rooms, or late spring and summer), buds may yellow and fall off. Once they’re fully open, it’s not a problem.

If you do bring your plants indoors, throw them outside after flowering to ensure maximum blooms the following year. Place them in dappled shade (reasonable light levels are needed for bud initiation) with plenty of air movement around them. Limp foliage suggests too much light.

Watering is also important. When strong growth is being made in late spring and summer, plants should be watered well and given added nutrients. During winter, watering should be reduced. Let your plants almost (but not quite) dry out before watering again. If they become waterlogged, their roots may rot.

Once flower spikes have been removed and new growth has begun in spring, plants can be repotted, but only if necessary. Cymbidiums like close quarters, so only repot when pot-bound. Bark mixes are ideal because they’re free-draining, and commercial mixes usually have fertilisers added.

This dreamy bouquet and boutonniere by The Wild Orchid features cymbidiums and dendrobiums – two of the most popular orchids in the cut flower industry. The image features over at Project Wedding.

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