Cultural Notes for Cymbidium Orchids

Your Cymbidium plants will flower during the cooler months. When they have lost their blooms, the spikes should be cut off and the plant inspected to see if it needs repotting or dividing. If it is a fairly small plant, but is filling its pot, it can simply be knocked gently until it slides out of its pot. Replace it in a bigger pot, making allowances for about two years growth. Larger chunks of potting medium, such as pine bark, should be placed in the base of the new pot , the plant is then put in and potting medium tipped in to fill in the sides. Press down firmly and water well.


A suitable basic mix can be made up from a medium comprising mainly coarse and fine pine bark, together with perlite, polystyrene and some stone chips, to which is added Dolomitic Lime and Bonemeal.   I am at present experimenting with adding charcoal which helps ‘sweeten’ the mix.   A ready made Cymbidium mix – approx. 5kg bag – is available at Outeniqua Orchids only. It contains 2-3 grades pure bark, perlite, stone, bonemeal and dolomitic lime. See Accessories for price. Should your plant require dividing, use a sharp serrated knife to cut through both roots and rhizome and pull the divisions apart. Each division must comprise of at least three green bulbs and a new growth. Make sure your knife is sterile to avoid possible virus infection. Back bulbs from particularly good plants can be re-grown in lime chips or pure bark with river sand. Reduce watering until the new growth and roots can be seen.


Your Cymbidium should be growing in a place where it receives the maximum amount of morning sun, but it should be protected from the late morning summer sun and hot afternoon sun in order to prevent the leaves from burning. Inadequate light is often the cause of failure to flower, so don’t put them under a shady tree – they might look healthy and green, but they are not likely to flower very well. 60 – 70% shadecloth is suitable in the summer months.


Depending on weather conditions, your Cymbidiums should be watered at least once a week and fertilized every second watering. I suggest a high nitrogen such as Starke Ayes ‘Growing Orchids’ formula used twice a month from September to December. This can be alternated with an organic fertilizer such as Sea Grow or Nitrosol if you wish. For January, February and March, I recommend the Starke Ayres ‘Flowering Orchids’ 6:20:30 formula and from April onwards, the Starke Ayres ‘Nutrifeed’ Balanced hydroponic formula. The plants do enjoy being misted occasionally during the day with a fine nozzle. Do remember that smaller plants will need to be watered more often. A simple trick is to remove the plant label and feel it, if dry, water well. You will soon find out how often to water your plants.


Slugs and snails love the young buds and new root tips, so use snail bait regularly in the early Autumn. Ants can be discouraged by spraying the base of the plant with an insecticide that deals with them. I also find that spraying with Jeyes Fluid around the plants keeps the ants away. (I recommend 5ml per 5 litres).


For perfect blooms in the wintertime, it is advisable to move the plant under a roof just before the first blooms open. Rain tends to mark the blooms with black spots. Do remember to stake your spikes early and you will have well-presented blooms. Snail Flow is essential to keep outdoor plants free of garlic snails. Water over plants using a watering can with a rose nozzle after heavy rains in winter rainfall areas.