How to Grow and Care Cymbidium (Boat Orchid)

Caring for Cymbidium(Boat orchid) at Home
Caring for Cymbidium(Boat orchid) at Home

Cymbidium (Boat orchid) bouquets, with their lush inflorescences and huge flowers that can stay up for an amazing amount of time, are among the most elite choices for gifts. But it is by no means the easiest orchid to grow. There are so many things that can go wrong with Cymbidium. with its high demand for temperature and daily variation and its preference for fresh air, Cymbidium remains a winter-blooming orchid, preferred only by those who can afford to keep them cool. A selection of varieties with various colors and flower shapes make this orchid a beauty to be discovered many times over.


Often sold under the trade name “King of Orchids,” Cymbidium is a costly treat. Even when discounted, the plant is more expensive than the elite Phalaenopsis and its counterparts and second only to the spoilers.

The roots of Cymbidium are not involved in photosynthesis, and they are very thick and long. Pseudobulbs are ovate, slightly flat, with a spire, and grow very densely, producing progeny and peduncles at the base. The new ones are brighter and smaller, gradually becoming lighter and larger.

The leaves of Cymbidium are large, bright, showy, and quite numerous, with 3 to 12 on each pseudobulb. Thus, each pseudobulb has three to twelve leaves. The leaves are long, stiff, and hairy, so they form a dense clump of leaves and remain upright for a long time.

Cymbidiums range in height from 15 inches (40 cm) in the compact varieties to 60 inches (1.5 m) in the most showy varieties. It is best to consider the maximum size of Cymbidium when purchasing, as the larger Cymbidiums require considerable space and dominate the market.

Cymbidium traditionally blooms in winter and grows vigorously in summer. However, there are early and late blooming varieties (fall/winter and winter/spring), and the realistic conditions available tend to shift the flowering period.

It is possible to choose varieties according to your taste – height, size, shape, and color of the flowers.

Among all Cymbidiums, the beauty of the inflorescence is impressive. Loose, symmetrical bouquets of 10-30 flowers, usually slightly pendulous, appear luxurious. The flowers are either tiny, about 2 inches (5 cm), or very large, up to 6 inches (15 cm) or larger, with a prominent three-lobed lip. Cymbidium is variable in flower shape, but the sepals and petals are almost always the same shapes, varying only slightly in size. Wavy or plain, lanceolate or broader, they always appear elegant.

The palette includes all the shades one could dream of. Whites, creams, yellows, oranges, pinks, reds, greens in pastel, bright and dark variations, all shades can be found in Cymbidium. There are monochromatic varieties as well as multicolored ones. You can always admire the patterns on the flower lips.

It is one of the fragrant orchids. Many small-flowered varieties have a complex and robust nocturnal fragrance.

Cymbidium cuttings are perfect and are a staple in the floral world.


Growing Conditions Of Cymbidium(Boat orchid)
Growing Conditions Of Cymbidium(Boat orchid)

Cymbidium hybrids and cultivars cultivated indoors have been bred mainly by selecting species from deciduous forests in the mountains of Asia. They are accustomed to long daylight hours, strong diurnal variations, very humid hot summers, and cool, almost dry winters.

Lighting and placement

Cymbidiums are extremely light-loving but non-sun-loving orchids. Therefore, in a room, you need to find a place for them that is as bright as possible and protects them from the midday sun. A diffuser screen and a partially south-facing window are ideal.

In winter, if the species is flowering, extra light is almost a must. Otherwise, it won’t be easy to achieve full flower development.

Temperature and Ventilation

Cymbidium requires a temperature difference between day and night above °F (7-8°C). The daily temperature difference is crucial for the establishment of flower stems. This is an air-loving orchid that requires frequent aeration.

During the growing season, Cymbidium needs temperatures in excess of 68 °F (20°C) during the day. Cymbidium is always grown in the summer in a garden, or at least on a balcony. It is easier to maintain the temperature difference during the day and cooler at night. The location should be shady and protected with a minimum 42-44 °F (6-7 °C).

From October to November, temperatures should ideally drop to 59-61 °F (15-16 °C) during the day and 46-50 °F (8-10 °C) at night, and be maintained during the overwintering period. As a result, inflorescences will be produced at temperatures below 55 °F (13 °C). However, high temperatures do not help flowering either. For flower buds to develop appropriately before opening, temperatures need to be no higher than 68 °F (20 °C) even during the day – on average, at least 60-64 °F (16-18 °C) during the day and 50-53 °F (10-12 °C) or lower at night. Once Cymbidium is open, it can be moved to a warmer environment if no other options are available.


Caring for Cymbidium(Boat orchid) at Home
Caring for Cymbidium(Boat orchid) at Home

Steady light and humidity, careful watering, frequent feeding – care appropriate to the stage of development and conditions of Cymbidium should be error-free. And you should start by keeping the leaves clean.

Watering and Air Humidity

Cymbidium does not like too much water, but overwatering is not advisable either. It is a fan of light-stable humidity. It is best to water Cymbidium in the morning, about once a week during active vegetation, and twice less during rest periods and before flowering.

There are several watering methods available for Cymbidium.

  1. Gently water Cymbidium from above along the edge of the pot without soaking the pseudobulbs until water runs out of the hole at the bottom of the pot, draining any excess water after 5 minutes.
  2. When watering, submerge the container until the substrate is absorbed (15-20 minutes) and excess water is freely drained.
  3. Only rainwater or water of similar softness can be used for Cymbidium.

On hot summer days, it can be carefully sprayed in the early morning, regularly – hot shower – water temperature – 104-122 °F (40-50 ° C) heat. It is better to maintain moderate humidity in room form, at least by installing trays with wet pebbles to protect Cymbidium from extreme dryness.

Feeding and fertilizer composition

The powerful flowers and size of Cymbidium suggest that this Cymbidium requires increased fertilization (but within reason). A very handy trick is to add Cymbidium fertilizer every other watering or half a watering at each watering during the active vegetative stage (establishing pseudobulbs, roots, and leaves).

Pruning and shaping Cymbidium
Remove the flower stems after flowering. Cut off old dried-out and faded pseudobulbs with sterilized tools and make sure the roots of young shoots are not damaged.

Transplanting, containers, and substrates

Replace containers only when Cymbidium is ready – when the soil is growing or compacted. The standard frequency is every 3-4 years. Repotting will result in a pause in flowering.

Early fall varieties should be transplanted in late April or May, but late flowering varieties should only be transplanted in mid-summer, not before June. Emphasis should be placed on young shoots, which should reach a height of 2 inches (5 cm) and produce at least one strong root system of their own.

A clear container is not necessary, but the pots should be able to breathe. If you use standard Cymbidium pots, put them in an extra pot. Cymbidium needs tall and narrow containers (height – twice the diameter) with many ventilation holes. Too much space, the width will delay flowering: the root system within the group should be narrow.

The mixture prepared for Cymbidium is a reliable choice. If desired, you can add to the bark sphagnum soil some perlite, coconut fiber, gravel, sand, and charcoal. Since the depth of the pot is quite large, you can reinsure it by placing a drainage layer at the bottom.

The roots of Cymbidium must not be traumatized during transplanting, as Cymbidium reacts very painfully to any damage. It is best not to remove the substrate entirely unless it is necessary. It is essential to maintain the submergence level: the base of the pseudobulbs must be kept above the ground.

Diseases, pests and growth problems

This variety is not susceptible to spider mites and thrips. Therefore, the only control strategy is to treat the plants repeatedly with insecticides.

Rot severely affects cymbidium, especially when water enters the leaves’ underside, and is susceptible to fungal and viral diseases. If pseudobulbs lose all their leaves and roots, you can save them in greenhouse conditions with increased humidity. Pruning the damaged parts and treating them repeatedly with a fungicide should help.

Sometimes, with over-cooling and over-watering, “harmless” growths and small spots of black fungus can appear on the leaves, and no action is needed.

Propagation of Cymbidium

In vitro, Cymbidium seedlings germinating under sterile conditions can sometimes be found on the Forum. However, the main method of propagation of Cymbidium, even of hybrids, is still asexual propagation with a simple division.

In Cymbidium, individual sprouts are only put aside in case of emergency because you have to wait many years for them to flower and form a colony. The best way is to divide the old Cymbidium into 3-6 pseudobulbs, each with its root system.

Cymbidium reacts in the same way as a simple transplant – flowering is delayed by 2-3 years.

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Title: How to Grow and Care Cymbidium (Boat Orchid)
Source: ThumbGarden
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