Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Cymbidium orchid
Cymbidium orchid

Click to Enlarge

Zone
Zones A1-A3, 1-45, H1, H2
Partial Sun
Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Cymbidium

Cymbidium orchid
Orchidaceae
Orchids and bromeliads

Native to high altitudes in Southeast Asia. Long, narrow, grasslike foliage forms a sheath around short, stout, oval pseudobulbs. Long-lasting flowers grow on erect or arching spikes. Standard types usually bloom from midwinter to midspring. Bloom season for miniatures starts in earliest fall, is heaviest late fall into winter.

Most cymbidium growers list only hybrids—large-flowered varieties with white, pink, yellow, green, or bronze blooms. Most have a yellow throat, dark red markings on lip. Large-flowered forms produce 12 or more 4 1/2–5-in. flowers per stem. Miniature varieties, about a quarter the size of large-flowered forms, are popular for their size, free-blooming qualities, and flower colors. A growing class of intermediate climate cymbidiums (the only types suited to Zone H2) will thrive alongside cattleyas in a greenhouse or in climates where night temperatures are too warm for standard cymbidiums. Many cymbidiums bloom in summer and fall, and some are fragrant.

For best bloom, give as much light as possible without burning foliage. Plants do well under shade cloth or lath. Plants with yellow green leaves generally flower best; dark green foliage means too much shade. During flowering period (midwinter to midspring for standard types), give shade.

In areas subject to frost, grow in containers in a lathhouse, in a greenhouse, or beneath an overhang or a high-branching tree. Can bring indoors when in flower. For best bloom, give as much light as possible without burning foliage. Plants with yellow-green leaves generally flower best; dark green foliage means too much shade. During flowering period (midwinter to midspring for standard types), give shade. Some are fragrant.

To set buds, plants need 50° to 55°F/10° to 13°C night temperatures. Daytime temperatures of 60° to 75°F/16° to 24°C (or even as high as 80° to 90°F/27° to 32°C) suit them. They will stand temperatures as low as 28°F/–2°C for a short time only; where there’s danger of harder frosts, cover plants with polyethylene film. Flower spikes are more tender than other plant tissues.

Potting mix for cymbidiums should drain fast yet retain moisture. Many commercial orchid mixes are available. Keep potting medium moist when new growth is developing and maturing—usually spring through summer. In winter, water plants just enough to keep bulbs from shriveling. On hot summer days, mist foliage early in the day. Watch for slugs and snails at all times. Feed with a complete liquid fertilizer every 10 days to 2 weeks. Use a high-nitrogen formula winter to early summer, a low-nitrogen product from late summer through fall. Transplant potted plants when bulbs fill pots. When dividing plants, keep a minimum of three healthy bulbs (with foliage) in each division. Dust cuts with sulfur or charcoal to discourage rot.

Excellent cut flower.

You Might Also Like...

Ipomoea purpurea

This annual grows to 6–9 ft. tall, usually with blue, purple, or white flowers 1 1/2–2 1/2...

Dorotheanthus bellidiformis

From South Africa. Unlike most others, this ice plant is an annual. Pretty and useful temporary carpet...

Sinningia speciosa

From Brazil. Squat, full-foliaged plant to 1 ft. high and wide. Broad, oval leaves reach 6 in. or long...

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More

Advertisement