With a San Francisco rainy winter kicked into gear, the Cymbidiums in the back garden have bloomed right on schedule. About 50 Cymbidium species are native to an area from India to Japan, and south to Australia. They have been symbols of virtue and friendship in China since Confucius praised them 2500 years ago, and the Chinese have cultivated them for centuries. Many varieties suited to our moderate California climate come from the rainy slopes of the Himalayas, and grow in cool temperatures.

Cymbidium flower after rainCymbidium flowers after rainCymbidium flower close up

Orchid growers have created thousands of Cymbidium hybrids in various hues of pink, red, brown, yellow, green, and white. Hybridization allows orchid breeders to combine the best traits of different varieties, making these hardy plants even tougher. Some kinds can survive a light freeze, although they may lose their flowers to the cold. The two hybrids shown in these photos can hold their large sprays of blooms for months during our mild winter. Pests and winter rains may damage some flowers, but they still light up the garden on cool, gray days.

Cymbidium flowers after rainCymbidium flowers after rainCymbidium flower

Besides regular water, Cymbidiums like heavy fertilizer, and these hybrids love our homemade compost. In order to bloom, they require bright light, and need cool nighttime temperatures in autumn. Here on the California coast, the evening fog cools them off to guarantee winter flowers. Don’t worry if you want to grow them but don’t match our climate — there are other warm growing Cymbidium species and hybrids that don’t need a cooling period.

Cymbidium flower close upCymbidium flower and unopened budCymbidium flowers

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7 Comments on “Cymbidium”

  1. Rita Davis Says:

    Amazing flowers! The shots with the raindrops are great.

  2. joel300 Says:

    cymbidiums are one of my favorites. big plants have masses of flowers, and they make great cut flowers too.

  3. Dennis Says:

    Great article, and the pics are great too!

  4. Joy Blake Says:

    Thanks for the marvelous photos!

  5. smalltown_girl Says:

    they are my favorite orchids for the home

  6. Elisa Says:

    Beautiful flowers, and I love the raindrops on them!

  7. Iris78 Says:

    cymbidums are some of my favoritse, they come in so many colors and sizes. now they even have some with fringes on petals and extra petals, thanks for your growing tips maybe my blooms will be better now :-))