Cymbidiums & Orchids
Cymbidium hybrids have greatly improved the species in recent years making them an ideal subject for newcomers to orchid culture.
In the wild cymbidiums grow both as terrestrial plants (grown in compost) or epiphytes (grown above soil level), but in cultivation they are generally grown terrestrially.
Dependant upon variety, the flowers may appear all the year round, with the main flowering period being between November and May, with each flower spike lasting roughly eight weeks.
They require an open neutral to alkaline compost.
Composts specifically produced for growing orchids can be purchased at specialist garden centres.
Watering and feeding:
Soak plants well once or twice a week during summer, and every one to two weeks in winter.
After watering, it is best to stand plants in a sink to allow excess water to drain.
Apply a high-potash feed throughout September and October, a balanced feed from November to February and a high-nitrogen feed from March to June.
From June to September apply a half-strength general-purpose liquid feed for three consecutive watering, then use only water only on the fourth application.
It is best if the feeding process is carried out over two periods i.e. water first and leave them for a couple of hours then add the liquid feed.
This method reduces the possibility of fertilizer burn.
Week 5: If growing as house plants, place them in a well-ventilated position, on a sunny window sill, and shade them from hot sun.
To increase levels of humidity place the pots on trays containing moist gravel.
Maintain a minimum temperature of 11°C (52°F) at night and 14°C (57°F) during the day do not allow the compost to dry out.
Support new growth and keep surface of leaves dust free.
Week 9: Shade plants during spring and summer, remove it in autumn.
Open the ventilators whenever possible, even at night when it is warm enough, but avoid draughts.
Water frequently, (see above)
Ease off with watering in cold, damp weather.
Week 14: Pot up new pseudo-bulbs in 150mm (6") well crocked pots,
Cymbidiums seem to flower better when pot bound however, congested plants can be re-potted / divided after flowering, when the new growths are about 75mm (3") high.
Every three or four years, cut away all dead roots, and thin out the pseudo-bulbs ensuring that each division has at least two sections of old growth to sustain it.
Plant up in a pot of sufficient size to accommodate the roots.
It is advisable to use clay pots as plants tend to become top heavy.
Fill the pots with a specially formulated bark or rockwool orchid compost.
This is generally available from larger garden centres and specialist nurseries.
Ensure the base of the pseudo-bulb is not submerged under compost.
Do not water for three or four days after potting.
To alleviate dehydration mist the plants with room temperature water daily.
Week 22: Plants require a spell outdoors in a bright, sunny position from June to September to initiate the production of flower spikes.
Place plants outdoors and do not allow night temperatures to fall below 15°C (59°F) otherwise individual flower buds may turn yellow and drop off.
At first, gradually acclimatise plants to sunlight to prevent leaf scorch, by placing them in a semi-shaded position, then gradually expose them to more light.
Do not allow the temperature to get above 32°C (90°F).
Support developing spikes with a cane and cut them down to 5cm (2in) when blooms have faded.
Week 40: Return plants indoors for the winter months.
Do's and Don’ts
Don't let orchid pots stand in water or water too frequently.
Don't allow water to lodge in leaf axils or growing points.
Don't put orchids on windowsills in full sun.
Don't stand them close to heat sources such as above radiators or on top of TV sets.
Don't put them in a draught.
Don't put plants near a bowl of fruit, ripening fruit gives off ethylene gas which could make the flowers go over more quickly.
The best way to learn about orchids is to join an orchid society, or read books on orchid culture.
Visit orchid shows where beginners are generally made welcome, and it is often the best way of acquiring plants suited to the novice grower.