Cymbidiums are known for their large spikes and long lasting blooms. The two main types of Cymbidiums are standards and miniatures.
- Light - Unlike most other orchids, Cymbidiums like a lot of light. They thrive best with full sun and, during the hottest parts of the day, partial shade. If the leaves start to burn, reduce the amount of sun received. In cooler areas (such as coastal California) the plants can tolerate full sun all day. The leaves should be a medium to golden green in color, not dark green like most plants.
- Temperature - Temperature is important in the Cymbidium growing process, especially in the production of flower spikes. Optimum daytime temperatures in the summer are between 75°F - 85°F and in the winter between 65°F - 75°F. Miniatures tend to tolerate higher temperatures than the standards, and will still be able to flower. The formation of flower spikes is triggered by the difference in day and night temperatures in the Fall. For flowers to initiate, nighttime temperatures must fall to at least 50°F - 60°F. Bring the plants inside when temperatures reach 40° or lower. Although most Cymbidiums can tolerate a light frost, it should be avoided whenever possible.
- Water - Cymbidiums produce vegetative growth during the spring and summer months, and need the most water during this time. Keep the pot evenly moist but do not let the roots sit in water or they will rot. Reduce watering after the pseudo bulbs finish growing at the end of summer.
- Fertilize - During the growth period (spring and summer), fertilize once or twice every two weeks using a fertilizer high in Nitrogen such as a 30-10-10. During the fall and winter, fertilize about once per month with a fertilizer higher in Phosphorous such as a 10-30-20. There are also specially formulated Cymbidium fertilizers that can be found at many nurseries and garden centers.
- Potting - Once the potting media starts to decompose (or about every two years) it is a good idea to repot the Cymbidium. Shake all the excess soil from the roots and separate the pseudo bulbs if desired. Then place the plant in a water retentive potting mix such as a medium grade mixture of fir bark, peat moss and perlite. Be sure to place the plant in the pot with the oldest pseudo bulb towards the outside so that the new growth has more room to grow.
- In the Store - Keep the plants in a cool, shady place to lengthen the life of the blooms. Water in small amounts once per week.
*The above information was derived from a document prepared by the American Orchid Society Education Committee and can be found on their website at www.aos.org.