A Cymbidium Orchid plant, or Boat orchid, is among the most attractive, popular, and long lasting orchid plants available throughout the world. The name Cymbidium comes from the greek word Kumbos which means cavity and refers to the shape of the base of the lip of the flower. Cymbidium orchids have been cultivated for thousands of years in Eastern Asia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Borneo, northern Australia, and the Himalayas but only became popular in Europe during the Victorian Age. Today, because of the many hybrid Cymbidium orchid plants, they grow throughout the world. These plants have long, thin, grass – like leaves. Sturdy stems or spikes emerge from the leaves of the plant and each spike produces 15-30 beautiful waxy- looking orchid flowers. There are over 52 varieties of Cymbidiums, each with a different color and pattern to their flowers. Cymbidium blooms, which often last for months, come in yellow, red, pink, orange, light green, yellowish green, white, cream, and even brown. The only flower colors missing are blue and black. These plants have the added advantage of being able to bloom during the winter when other orchids cannot. Although Cymbidium orchid plants require a little extra care (as do Phaleonopsis Orchid plants) and prefer a special soil, their beautiful flowers make it all worthwhile.
Cymbidium orchids like as much bright, indirect light as you can provide; but avoid placing them in the direct sun. Light green upright leaves indicate that your orchid plant is getting the proper amount of light. Dark green leaves mean a Cymbidium orchid needs more light. Yellow leaves are an indication that they are getting too much light.
The easiest way to kill Cymbidium orchid plants is by over-watering. When watering, thoroughly drench the plant, then let the excess water drain out the bottom drip holes. Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering again. You can prevent over and under-watering by checking the roots, they should be whitish- green and plump. Follow these few watering tips to prevent watering problems. Never allow orchid plants sit in water. Do not get water on the leaves or flowers. Never use water that has passed through a softener. Soil type, temperature, time of year, humidity, and pot size all influence how much water orchid plants need. The soil dries out faster in winter because of the heat and low humidity in homes and offices. Too much or too little water is the main cause of Bud Blast, orchid buds dying before they open.
Fertilize weakly, weekly when an orchid plant is actively growing. Dilute your plant food to 1/3-1/4 the recommended strength. Do not feed an orchid plant when it is dormant or when the plant is in bloom. There are excellent orchid plant foods on the market. You can also use a well- balanced houseplant food at 1/3-1/4 the recommended strength.
Temperature is another important factor if you want indoor Cymbidium orchids to bloom. Ideal temperatures for the flower buds to set is 65°F-70°F (18.3°C-21.1°C) during the day and 10°-15° cooler at night. Temperature is especially important during the fall when orchid flowers are just starting to develop. Cymbidium plants can handle temperatures as low as 45°F (7° C), but do not do well in temperatures above 80° F (26.7°C). The higher the temperature, the more important it is to have good air movement around the plant.
High humidity is a necessity. If your home or office does not have at least 50% humidity, place your orchid plant on a wet pebble tray. Be sure it is sitting on the pebbles and never in the water. Do not mist an orchid plant; it can cause fungal and bacterial plant diseases.
One of the nicest things about Cymbidium orchids is that they bloom in the winter when other indoor plant do not. The flower spikes on Cymbidium orchids set during the fall and winter when temperature are about 50°F (10°C) at night. Once the flower spikes appear, don’t move your Cymbidium orchid or keep the room too warm until the buds open. Blooms last longer when temperatures stay between 60°-70°F (15.6°-21.1°C). Be sure to stake the flower spikes so the blooms are above the leaves of the plant. Do not fertilize orchid plants while they are in bloom.
Mealy bugs can be removed using a Qtip dipped in alcohol. Wipe orchid plants with a soft cloth dipped in soapy water to remove spider mites, aphids, or scale. You can also use neem oil or insecticidal soap.
Cymbidium orchid diseases are caused by a fungus or virus. These plant diseases can quickly spread to others plants if you’re not careful. Viruses appear as pale streaks in the leaves. As the problem worsens, the leaves become pitted and bleached-out looking. Fungal infections cause yellow, brown, and then black leaves. Roots develop black spotted areas and the orchid cannot absorb water. Fungal infections on indoor orchid plant are the result of over- watering, poor air circulation, and wet foliage. Keep infected plants away from other plants or throw them out. Sterilize your scissors, knives, or other tools with alcohol before going from plant to plant. Treat fungal diseases with fungicides sold at local garden stores. Another way to treat Cymbidium orchid diseases is by using the Bordeaux Solution, a mixture of water, hydrated lime, and copper sulfate.
Cymbidium orchid plants need a special orchid soil or potting medium. Never use regular houseplant soil. Proper orchid planting medium contains peat moss, bark compost, and osmunda fiber. The right plant soil be found at any garden center.
Many of the new hybrid Cymbidium orchid plants are small enough to grow in 5”- 6” pots that can fit on a windowsill. Orchid plants like to be root-bound so don’t rush to move them to a larger container. Use clay or plastic pots for orchids. Be sure any pot you use has drainage holes. When re-potting a Cymbidium orchid shake off the excess soil and throw away any pseudobulbs that are shriveled and dried up.
Once the flowers die, find the nodes on the flower spike. Cut the spike off 1″ above the 3rd node from the bottom. Immediately remove dead or diseased parts on the plant or they will attract pests and diseases.
Propagate Cymbidium orchid plants in the spring when the plant has finished blooming. As orchid plants mature, they produce pseudobulbs. Pseudobulbs store water and nutrients and new plant leaves emerge from them. Cymbidium orchid plants should be divided every three or four years. To propagate these orchids, gently split the pseudo bulbs apart. Each section should have at least three healthy pseudobulbs. Center the orchid bulbs in the new container with the lower 1/3 of the bulb below the soil. The container should be only an inch or two larger than the pseudo bulb cluster.
Cymbidium orchid plants need a resting period if you want them to flower. Once a year move indoor orchid plants to a cool, dark area for a month and reduce how much water you give the plant. After the plant has rested, return it to its usual bright location.
Orchid plants are beautiful gifts for any occasion.
Poisonous Plant Info
Cymbidium orchid plants are non-poisonous.
The best way to get an orchid plant to bloom is to make sure the plant is getting the right amount of water and light. Are the leaves a bright medium green, not dark green and not yellow green? This shows the orchid plant is getting enough bright light. Are the roots firm and whitish green, indicating that the plant is being watered properly? Is there good air circulation? Is the temperature between 65°-75F°(18.3-21.1°C) during the day and 15° cooler at night? If you think you’re caring for your orchid plant correctly, you may just have to be patient. It might be the wrong time of the year for it to bloom or your type of orchid plant may have to mature before it can produce more blooms.
The spots on the leaves of your indoor orchid plant could be a number of things. If you can scrape the bumps off, then it is probably a plant disease called scale. If the spots are surrounded by a yellow halo, it is a sign of a plant fungal infection. Another sign of a plant fungal infection is yellow spots with black edges. Because orchid plants require high humidity, they are prone to fungal and viral diseases. If infected with a plant disease, treat your plant with a commercial Fungicide or the Bordeaux Mixture (a combination of water, hydrated lime, and copper sulfate). Provide good air circulation around all orchid plants to prevent infections.
There are several reasons why leaves turn yellow on an orchid plant, the most common is that the leaves are old and are naturally dying. Some other causes of yellow leaves on orchid plants are: the plant needs more nitrogen; the temperature is too cold; the orchid is getting too much bright light; the roots have died from over- watering.
Brown and black streaks on the leaves of an orchid plant usually indicate a virus infection. I’d recommend immediately isolating the sick plant from your other plants before the virus spreads. Identifying which disease is affecting your plant is important so you can determine the proper treatment. If it is a fungal disease, it can be treated with any plant Fungicide sold at a local garden store; but viral diseases are very difficult to treat. Cut off all of the diseased areas and hope for the best.