Cymbidium orchids produce long-lived flowers, making them ideal for flower arrangements or corsages. They can produce more than 20 flowers on a single stem and come in a wide variety of colors. Cymbidiums are epiphytes, plants that grow on trees or other structures rather than in soil. Although they can thrive in greenhouses and other indoor environments, cymbidiums are an ideal plant for growing in pots outdoors.
Cymbidium orchids are high-altitude plants, found in temperate zones of China and Japan through southeast Asia. Some species also grow in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as well as coastal areas of California and the Mediterranean. You can also raise cymbidiums indoors if your climate lacks the warm days and cool nights they need to flower.
Cymbidiums come in two sizes: standard and miniature. The cymbidium's thick, hard, waxy flower petals are its most prominent feature. The flowers can range from an inch to up to 5 inches in diameter and come in every color, depending on the variety, except blue and true red.
Cymbidiums prefer abundant light and cooler temperatures. You can tell if your plant is getting enough light if its leaves a yellowish-green rather than dark green. The American Orchid Society recommends daytime temperatures of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and night-time temperatures from 50 to 60 degrees in late summer and fall. Winter temperatures can drop to 65 to 75 degrees during the day and 45 to 55 degrees at night. Bring cymbidiums indoors if temperatures go below 40 degrees.
Cymbidiums prefer an acidic potting medium that drains easily. The Cymbidium Society of America (CSA) recommends using these components: bark, perlite, oak leaf mold, redwood compost, peat, sand or crushed volcanic rock. Water cymbidiums two to three times a week in summer and once a week in winter. You can add fertilizer balanced with nitrogen, phosphorus and potash once or twice a month. The CSA suggests diluting the fertilizer to less than full strength.
Cymbidiums resist most pests and diseases. Spider mites, scale and aphids can infest these orchids. Snails and slugs also feed on new growth and flowers. Inspect your plants regularly and apply an insecticide or miticide if necessary.
Cymbidium orchids produce more flowers if you grow them in smaller pots. You may have to divide the plant if the roots or older, bulb-like structures called "back bulbs" starting crowding the pot. You should repot your orchid every two to three years to provide your plant with fresh potting medium.