Cymbidium Orchids

Meet an easy-care orchid that thrives outdoors in mild regions.

Cymbidium Skies

A meadow of Cymbidium paints a spring-like feel against a mural of blue sky in the Atlanta Botanical Garden's Orchid Center Atrium.

Photo by: Image courtesy of the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photo by Chris Kozarich

Image courtesy of the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photo by Chris Kozarich

A meadow of Cymbidium paints a spring-like feel against a mural of blue sky in the Atlanta Botanical Garden's Orchid Center Atrium.

Enhance your home with the elegant blooms of cymbidium orchid. This exotic plant opens flowers on spikes that can linger up to two months. In mild regions, cymbidium orchids can actually thrive outdoors—almost year-round—in containers on a patio or beneath a spreading tree. Discover tips for growing cymbidium, which is rated as a good choice for newcomers to raising orchids.

Cymbidium orchids aren’t tropical beauties craving high light and heat. These graceful orchids hail from cool mountain regions in Australia and Asia, where night temperatures dip into 40s and 50s. These low temperatures are vital to the formation of the breathtaking flowers.  

Cymbidium orchids produce their blossoms on a spike, and each spike can hold up to 35 blooms. The spikes remain on plants for a long time—up to eight weeks. The individual flowers come in a wide range of colors and measure from two to five inches across. This orchid steals the spotlight when it’s in bloom.  

In a home setting, aim to give cymbidium orchids bright, indirect light. Morning light works well, as does a spot beneath a tree’s canopy, where light is filtered and dappled at best. Protect cymbidium orchids from the hot, direct sunlight of afternoon. Leaves on cymbidium orchids provide clues when light is inadequate. Too much sunlight produces leaves with yellow spots. Too little yields a deep, dark green leaf. Ideally, cymbidium orchid leaf color should be a bright yellow-green.  

The trickiest part of growing cymbidium orchids is mastering the watering schedule. This is an orchid that grows from pseudobulbs, water-storing organs that sit atop soil and produce roots to anchor plants in the orchid potting mix. When plants are actively growing, which usually occurs from roughly March to October, keep the orchid potting mix consistently moist, but not dripping wet. Never let plants sit in water overnight. During cymbidium orchid’s resting season, let the orchid potting mix dry out slightly between waterings.  

Fertilize cymbidium orchids during their active growing season (roughly January to July) with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. This means the first number on the bag’s analysis should be the highest one, like 22-14-14. As summer winds down, use a bloom booster fertilizer that’s low in nitrogen, like 10-30-20.  

Flower spikes form in late winter. If you garden in a mild-winter region and have your cymbidium orchids outdoors year-round, keep an eye out for slugs as flower spikes appear.  If a frost damages leaves of cymbidium orchids, don’t worry. Watch for new growth to sprout from the pseudobulbs.  

Grow and repot cymbidium orchids into an orchid potting mix composed of two parts each peat moss and composted bark and one part sand.

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