Cymbidium is a genus of some 60 evergreen orchids that are among the finest and most sought-after orchids. The first cymbidium was described in 1799 by Olof Swartz.
It is cultivated in Europe since the Victorian era but in China it has been cultivated for thousands of years because of its beauty.
The species form hybrids easily among themselves, so many hybrids were developed in a great variety of colors and sizes.
It’s an easy houseplant that may spend the summer outside.
Cymbidium is sympodial and forms long narrow leaves of about 60 cm high.
Most species are epiphytic, rarely terrestrial.
The flower stalk grows from the youngest pseudobulb, is 90 cm tall and bears clusters of brightly colored flowers. There is a wide variety of color and size depending on the species or hybrid.
Each flower is 5-10 cm high. The flowering occurs in winter and each plant can produce 10-15 flowers. The bloom lasts about 10 weeks.
Tropical and subtropical Asia, from the Himalayas to the mountains in China and northern Australia.
They usually grow on bark or leaf litter in their natural habitat, between 0 and 3,000 m.
The name derives from the Greek word kumbos (hole, cavity). It refers to the shape of the base of the lip.
In summer (from June) Cymbidium can stay outside in a sheltered place. When the temperature has dropped to 10 °C, bring it back indoors and let it spend the winter at 10-15 °C.
It must have a nights of 10-13 °C during the rest period to flower.
Light but not direct sunlight as this will scorch the leaves.
During the growth period, water weekly. Let the substrate dry before you water again. It may also be submerged monthly so that the substrate soaks up water.
Prefers rainwater or soft water at room temperature: tap water may contain too much lime.
Basically ambient humidity will suffice but at higher temperatures they need higher humidity, for example by placing the pot over a bowl of water.
Only use a special orchid substrate composed of bark, peat moss and perlite or pumice.
This modified substrate provides the necessary support to the plant (so it will not fall over), provides a good aeration of the roots and retains water.
Fertilize monthly with special liquid orchid fertilizer 20-20-20. Do not fertilize in winter.
Cymbidium is a strong grower. Repot it in spring and divide it (in groups of at least 3 mature bulbs).
In order to flower, cymbidium needs to spend the summer fresh, moist and in a shady spot and the winter cold, dry and light.
If grown in a warm greenhouse, it will produces leaves generously but will not flower.
By division, when repotting in spring the plant. Keep groups of at least three mature bulbs.
Because the root system is a real tangle, it is better to be divide using a knife than to tear the plant manually.