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Australian Grow Guide: Cymbidium Orchids

You might think that cymbidium orchids are difficult to grow. But this is simply not the case if you provide the right conditions.

Featured image: Cymbidium insigne Orchid / Photo by David J. Stang / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Cymbidium orchids are stunning, long-lasting plants that are easy to grow and care for.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been growing these beauties for years, there’s always something new to learn about them.

How to plant cymbidium orchids

Cymbidium Amesbury Frank Slattery orchid | Plant care
Cymbidium Amesbury ‘Frank Slattery’ orchid / Photo by Geoff McKay / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

If you have a spot in the garden that receives excellent drainage, you can plant your cymbidiums in the ground.

The spot you choose should also get ample morning sun but be shaded from the harsh midday and afternoon sun. This will ensure your orchids look great all year and flower well.

If you don’t think that you have soil that drains well, it might be best to grow your orchids in pots. In fact, cymbidiums do appreciate being quite cramped so it’s not necessary to repot them too often.

Another advantage of growing these flowers in pots is that you can move them around so that they get just the right amount of sunlight.

Placing your pots under deciduous trees where they can get sun in winter and dappled light in summer is ideal.

Use a quality orchid mix for cymbidiums grown in pots. This will ensure good drainage and keep your plants growing strong.

Cymbidium orchid care

Cymbidium cv orchid | Plant care
Cymbidium cv orchid / Photo by Geoff McKay / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

As long as your cymbidium orchids receive morning sun and afternoon shade, they don’t require a lot of fuss. During winter, if your area receives plenty of rain, you don’t even have to give them additional water. 

However, you want to ensure that they don’t dry out during summer.

During the hotter months, you want to water your plants at least three times a week. In extreme heat, it might even be necessary to water them daily.

One thing that cymbidiums really benefit from is regular feeding especially if you want them to flower well.

Cymbidium orchids will put on leaf growth between September and January. During this time, they benefit from high nitrogen fertiliser (view at Amazon). 

From February onwards, the plants will start to form their blooms. At this time they need a fertiliser that is high in potassium and much lower in nitrogen (view at Amazon).

For this reason, it’s a good idea to use a proprietary two-part orchid food.

Apply this once after the plants have finished flowering and then again in December or January to encourage flower formation. Just follow the directions on the pack.

Orchids grown in pots prefer not to be repotted annually. It’s best to only do this every three years right after the plants have finished flowering.

You can either divide up the plants and pot them into a similar-sized pot or just move the entire clump into a pot that is just one size larger.

If the roots are very tightly bound together, you can use a sharp knife to break them up.

Ideally, you want to divide a large clump into three or four smaller ones making sure that each new clump has a minimum of three or four bulbs with leaves on them.

After repotting your orchids, water them with liquid seaweed to encourage new root growth.

Pests and diseases

Cymbidium Kingsloch Cooksbridge | Plant care
Cymbidium Kingsloch Cooksbridge / Photo by David J. Stang / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Unfortunately, cymbidium orchids can fall prey to numerous garden pests and some fungal diseases.

Slugs and snails love to feast on flower spikes and developing buds. Place some eco-friendly snail pellets around your orchids to help deter these pests.

Sap-sucking insects such as aphids, mealybugs, scale, and spider mites may also find your orchids irresistible.

To ward off these little critters, spray your plants with an oil-based product such as white oil, eco-oil, or even neem oil. This will also ward off caterpillars and grasshoppers.

Fungal diseases can be avoided if your plants are growing in well-draining soil or potting mix and there’s plenty of airflow around the orchids.

There’s also an orchid virus disease that can cause mottling to the leaves. Unfortunately, there’s no adequate control for this but it won’t kill your plants.

Cymbidium orchid varieties

Cymbidium Frida | Plant care
Cymbidium Frida / Photo by Arne and Bent Larsen / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 2.5 DK

Most of the cymbidium orchid varieties that you can buy in Australia are hybrids.

This means that there are a huge variety of different flower colours available.

However, there are also numerous cymbidium species including some Australian native orchids.

Some of the most commonly grown hybrids include:

  • Cymbidium ‘Lancashire Ruby Paradisia’ with gorgeous dark red to purple flowers
  • Cymbidium ‘Trinity Gold’ with striking golden yellow blooms and a dark red lip
  • Cymbidium ‘ Valley Freestyle Heaven Scent’ with white to pale pink blooms and a stunning bright pink and white dotted lip.

FAQ

When do cymbidium orchids flower?

In Australia, most cymbidium orchids will flower from May right through until August and September.

How do you encourage cymbidium to flower?

To encourage your cymbidium to flower, make sure it receives bright light and cool temperatures in the evening. You should also cut off the old flower spikes as soon as they’ve finished blooming.

When is the best time to divide cymbidium orchids?

The best time to divide your cymbidium orchids is in spring just after they’ve finished flowering.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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