Cymbidium orchids are hardy plants and are easy to grow. They like the same conditions as we do, temperatures in the 20′ s, humidity of about 50% and shade in the summer. Most amateurs can grow orchids well but have difficulty in flowering them. This usually can be overcome by finding a position where the plant receives more light.
Cymbidiums will tolerate full sun throughout the year, but it is best to find a position where they will receive 50% shade in summer. Remember too much shade will cause a decrease in flowering. 50% shade cloth is the best to use otherwise a very open shaded tree. Don’t crowd your orchid plants, an empty pot of equal size should fit between.
This will depend on the type of potting mix used, position of orchid and atmospheric conditions, temperature and humidity. In winter, once or twice a week is sufficient in the morning. In summer, water daily at night. The night time watering is to reduce temperature. The drop in temperature helps in the initiation of flower spikes. In heat wave conditions watering may have to be done twice a day. When watering thoroughly saturate the potting mix. Stop when water comes out of the bottom of the pot.
Everyone has their own thoughts. I don’t do any liquid fertilizing but add slow release fertilizers to the potting mix. These include Nutricote and Magamp at a concentration of two tablespoons to a two gallon bucket of potting mix. If you want to liquid fertilize use half strength Aquasol fortnightly during the warmer months of the year.
Again there are hundreds of combinations. Weathered pine bark with the above slow release fertilizers gives excellent results. The pine bark pieces should be about 10 to 15mm in size. Never pot an orchid into sand, you will destroy its roots. The mix should be open. Water should run straight through the potting mix.
Pine bark breaks down and will retain the water in the pot. At this stage, usually every two years the orchid should be potted into new mix. Use plastic pots and don’t over pot. Give the plant enough room for one to two years only.
When the plant gets large the plant may have to be divided. When dividing, make each piece have a minimum of three green bulbs. Best time is after flowering or in spring. Try not to exceed pots of 250mm in size, they become very heavy.
The old bulbs without leaves can be individually potted. This is done when repotting or dividing. These old bulbs usually will produce a new shoot, which can be grown up to a flowering plant.
ORCHIDS IN SPIKE
A flower spike can be supported using a bamboo stake once it reaches about 15cm high. Spikes appear at the base of new growths during February to April. The flower spike at this stage looks like a fat pencil. At this stage snail pellets should be put around the pot and on top of the potting mix. When the flower buds break through the protective sheath the plant should be moved to a position so the buds are protected from strong winds and frost. Don’t place the orchid in a dark area as the buds won’t open. A verandah or patio is ideal.
ORCHIDS IN FLOWER
When the first flowers open then the plant can be taken inside. Water the plant once a week and cut the flower spike off no longer than four weeks after the first flower opens. Put the flower spike in a vase and cut 1 to 2cm off the bottom of the stem once a week at the same time changing the water.
The main problem is fungal infection. If good air movement occurs in the growing area then fungal infections will not occur. Any fungicide can be used, e.g. Benlate, Fongarid or Previcur. Then next biggest problem is red spider. Don’t apply insecticide or fungicide sprays to flower buds, they can deform them. Use a powder.