Gardening Articles

Cymbidium Orchids are so rewarding. Cymbidium Orchids come in so many colors and shade, more than most other Orchid varieties.

They are very easy to grow in this area, in fact most of the coastal areas are considered ‘ideal’ for these beautiful Orchids. Unless you are inland, where it gets quite warm or heavy frosts, you can keep them out of doors pretty much all year. They don’t need an expensive green house like many other Orchids. A light shade during the hottest part of the day should do just fine, or about 55% shade all day, don’t make it too dark or they tend not to bloom well. Simple shade structures seem to do just fine. For some growers, maybe the shade of a large tree during the hottest part of the day (11:00 to 4:00 or so) will work well.

cymbidiumCymbidium need cool winter temperatures to encourage more blooms, or to even bloom at all. This is one reason you may not want them in a ‘green house’ where it is warm all year long. In summer 60° to 85° is fine, a few days of warmer temps should be OK. In winter they can easily go down to the high 30’s and even a light frost is usually not a problem, if it does not last too long. If you are concerned about freezing, move them in at night or cover with an old bed sheet at night.

The potting ‘medium’ can vary greatly depending on who you talk to. What I like best is ‘Coconut Fiber Chunks’. I use “Mulch Block” for my coconut chunks, it is easy and clean, no mixing involved. This is ‘fairly new’ to me, a few years ago we did not carry this product; I did not know what it was. Sometimes ‘Coconut Fiber’ is called “Coir” but many would not know it by this term. It comes as ‘chunks’ which are between ¼” to ¾” in size, generally.  There is also a fine grade that looks more like Peat Moss, I use the coarser one. I pack it fairly tight around the roots so the plant is ‘firmly’ in the container.  Another way is ‘Fir Bark’ is mixed with Redwood compost  or other planting mixes (or ‘Cymbidium Mix’) those seem to work just fine, usually. The majority of the mix is generally 50% or more of the Fir Bark.

During warmer months I water my plants about once per week. If it is very warm and dry probably two times per week. In cooler winter months maybe every two weeks, if it rains, even less often. They don’t like to be ‘wet’ all of the time the root system will start to rot. The potting mix, whatever you use, should have moisture, never ‘bone dry’.

Most of the new growth forms in spring and early summer months. Bloom spikes appear in November for some of the early blooming varieties, the first of the year for most others. You can expect blooms from mid December through March, depending on the variety and breeding. Most growers put a sturdy stake (bamboo or a heavy wire rod) near the spikes as they appear. This will help protect them for accidental breakage, as you may need to move them so the boom spikes don’t get tangled up.

For fertilizer, I personally use ‘GroPower  Tablets’ all year long. These are about ¾“ in diameter and ½” thick. I put on new tablets every 3 months. I use one tablet for each gallon of pot size. As you water the plants the tablets will dissolve, usually they are pretty much gone in three months. I have great results growing my Cymbidium this way, and usually many bloom spikes per plant, if the plant has 4 or 5 ‘psudo-bulbs’. Other growers might prefer to use water soluble plant foods. “Grow-More” has an excellent line of Orchid Foods. These you mix in the water and apply them every two weeks. They recommend two different formulas. For growth, 30-10-10, this is applied between March and October. To encourage bloom, 6- 30-30, this is applied between October and March. If you choose to use the water soluble plant food you may get larger blooms, or spikes with more blooms. For optimum results you need to be on a program to apply it every two weeks. For me, the tablets work just fine, my plants grow and bloom well.

I repot when the containers they are in becomes crowed, usually about every three years or so. At that time I remove all of the old Coconut Chips and start with all new and fresh. I may or may not divide the plants at this time; some depends on the size of the clump.

When the bloom spikes are pretty much completely open, you can move the plant indoors to enjoy. They should remain looking good for up to a month, perhaps more. Place the plant in an area with good light, and not close to a heat source. After blooming, move the plant back outside, they do not make good house plants all year long.

The main pests are snails and slugs, watch for these especially as the blooms are forming, they can wreak havoc on new blooms. Bait for these pests as soon as you see them. Aphids or Scale could be a problem, Aphids my feed on young flower buds. This is less common that the snails and slugs, usually.

walterandersenlogo.jpgWalter Andersen Nursery has built its reputation on providing the highest quality plant material and the best customer service backed by a professional staff. This, along with the widest variety of plant material available anywhere in San Diego has kept generations of San Diegans coming to Walter Andersen Nursery year after year.Contact them directly at 619 224 8271 (San Diego Store) or 858 513 4900 (Poway Store).

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