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Cymbidiums should not be treated like normal houseplants i.e. kept inside the house all year round. They need lower temperatures and bright conditions so they need to be kept outside in spring and summer. In some areas with mild winters they can be kept outdoors all year and only brought indoors to enjoy their stunning and long-lasting displays. Relatively to other orchids they are ‘heavy feeders’ so make sure you feed them regularly throughout the year.

Cymbidiums are cool-growing orchids and the ideal growing temperature range is 11–20oC. A change in temperature of about 5oC between day and night will ensure good growth and flowering. Cymbidiums should be placed outside in a shady spot during the frost-free months in spring and summer, and they should be brought in when night temperatures start dropping below 10oC. It is these cool temperatures in the summer and early autumn that will help the plants flower again. Cymbidiums should not be kept inside the house all year round; if that is done it is unlikely they will flower again.

Cymbidiums require good light but not direct sunlight in the spring and summer months. If left indoors where the light is not as good compared with outside they are not likely to flower. A shady spot in the garden where they can get some afternoon sun would be ideal for them during the frost-free months. In the winter they will appreciate all the light you can give them.

The compost should be allowed to dry between waterings when they are kept indoors. When they are kept outdoors they need special attention as on the one hand the sun and wind can dry them quickly and on the other hand too much rain can lead to oversaturation. As they are very tight inside the pot it is best to ‘dunk’ them in water for 10–15 minutes rather than water them from the top.  Use rainwater if possible, and bring to room temperature for best results.

To keep humidity high around plants, place in a saucer of gravel or grit and keep moist. Spay plants with Orchid Myst or rainwater to keep humidity up, and avoid too much water in the pot. High humidity will avoid problems with red spider mite which can affect Cymbidiums.

Feed with a specialist feed such as Orchid Focus Grow with every other watering in the spring and summer, and with Orchid Focus Bloom from late summer until early spring. Feeding is very important with Cymbidiums and is one of the factors (the others are light and low temperatures) that will stop them from re-flowering. They will need more feeding than most other orchids and a good orchid fertiliser will have a special dilution rate for Cymbidiums (normally four times the concentration needed for a more typical orchid).

Cymbidiums flower once a year and to get them to re-flower they need to have good new shoots growing at the start of the year. A cooler spell outside during the summer and into the autumn will initiate new flower spikes. In the wild, the cooler autumn evenings and nights start the flowering cycle.

Cymbidiums like to be pot-bound and need repotting every two years into a slightly larger pot. The plant itself will ‘tell’ you when it needs repotting by raising itself from the pot. Like all orchids, it is crucial you use a pot with plenty of drainage holes and a good quality orchid bark mix such as Orchid Focus Repotting Mix

Cymbidiums produce pseudobulbs as the new growths mature. When the plants get large, they can be split to make several smaller plants. Plant need to have at least eight healthy pseudobulbs so every new plant has at least four pseudobulbs.

For a guide to repotting please click on the relevant link below:

Helpful Guides

Pest and Diseases

Cymbidiums can suffer from attacks of red spider mite, especially during long hot spells. Regular spraying with rainwater or Orchid Myst to create higher humidity usually reduces these attacks. Other insects that like Cymbidiums are scale and greenfly, and occasionally mealy bug. Use Provado Insect Killer aerosol spray to control these or SB Plant Invigorator.

Yellow leaves

Some old leaves will turn yellow over time and this is not a problem. If the top leaves start turn yellow it is likely that the plant does not receive adequate feeding or too much light. Even few hours of morning sun in the summer can lead to yellow leaves. Place the plant to a shady position.

No flowering

If the plant does not flower every year with at least one or two spikes it can be either temperature and light or feeding:

The orchid is kept indoors and does not receive enough light or low enough temperature. Solution: place outside during the frost free months in a shady position.

Not enough feeding. Relative to other orchids, cymbidiums are hungry plants. Feed with an appropriate fertiliser such as Orchid Focus Grow and Orchid Focus Bloom at the specified rate for Cymbidiums.

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