growing instructions

growing | deflasking | dividing

how to grow cymbidiums

Cymbidium orchids are the most widely cultivated orchids on earth. They are grown commercially for cut flowers by enthusiasts and by home gardeners throughout the world.

Cymbidium plants originated in tropical areas at high altitudes where the climate is temperate and they receive summer rains. Locations with latitude of about 35o have an ideal climate for growing Cymbidiums.

where to put the plant

While the plant is in flower, it should be kept inside the house or in a protected area where the flowers will not be affected by wind or rain. It should be taken from the house and watered heavily once a week, allowed to drain, and then returned to the house.

When the plant has finished flowering, the flower stems can be removed with secateurs and the plant should be positioned outside in the open so that it receives sunlight from morning until night. The plant really only needs shade on the hottest of our summer days, above 30oc. An ideal situation is a shadehouse that is in the open so that the sun shines directly on it all day. The ideal percentage for the shadecloth is 50% to 70% at 35o latitudes.

If you do not have a shadehouse in the open, the plant can be grown under a deciduous tree (peach, nectarine or apricot is ideal). Citrus trees such as orange or lemon provide too much shade and would prevent the plant from flowering. Similarly fernhouses and positions alongside the house or near a fence or garage would cause the plant to receive sunlight for only part of the day and hence would prevent flowering. Light and fresh air are the most important factors affecting flower production.

air and water

Plants should not be positioned too close together because this will reduce air movement and encourage pests. Orchids are not damaged by strong winds - even salty winds from the ocean do not adversely affect Cymbidiums. In the summer the plants should be watered heavily every day for optimum growth. Never lightly mist orchids as this could cause a salt build-up in your potting mix. Cymbidiums are hardy plants and, due to their bulb-like structures at the base of the leaves, will survive long periods without water, even during the hottest months. If you have an adequate supply of rainwater, of course, the orchids would benefit from it.

potting mix

Cymbidiums come from a tropical area where they are accustomed to receiving heavy rains in the warmer months. In southern Australia we receive most of our rain in the cool winter months. Because of this it is important that the plant be grown in a mix that is very free draining. An ideal potting media is pine bark. A pine bark mix will last virtually forever.

As the plant outgrows the pot, it is only necessary to lift the plant from the pot and place into a larger pot without disturbing the root ball. Add more bark to fill the pot. When it becomes necessary to divide the plant, a bark mix need not be wasted, but can be used to re-pot the orchid again. Beware of mixes that contain fine materials or materials that compact or break down quickly.


Because Cymbidiums grow in a semi-inert potting mix, it is necessary to feed the plants with a balanced fertiliser such as Top Soluble Plant Food or Aquasol. Fertiliser should be used at the recommended strength, applied to the plants when watering, all year round. If you do not have the time or equipment to apply fertiliser when you water, slow release fertilisers such as Osmocote can be used alone or in conjunction with a liquid fertiliser.


Plants are best left undivided. They will produce more blooms if undisturbed. If the plant becomes so large after 4 or 5 years that it must be divided, break the plant into only 2 or 3 pieces, each consisting of at least 3 green bulbs joined together.