Here on the California coast, the Cymbidiums spoil us. I’ve seen luxuriant blooms on neglected orchids stuffed into sidewalk planters. Gardeners inherit abandoned plants from earlier tenants, sometimes without even realizing that the strap-like leaves belong to orchids. It turns out that our mild climate mimics the slopes of the Himalayas where these orchids grow wild. As long as they receive bright light and water over the summer, they manage to flower. Admittedly, this unidentified yellow hybrid isn’t the most colorful of thousands of Cymbidium varieties. However, it is one of the types with a rich, sweet scent, and it can bloom twice a year.
One trick to help Cymbidiums bloom is to give them nightly temperature drops of 15-20°F (8-11°C,) especially in autumn. Without this day/night temperature difference, they won’t form flower spikes. Here on the coast, they can grow in full sun. However, growers in warmer areas should provide morning sun and afternoon shade. Plants need enough light so that leaves are light green, not dark green. Cymbidiums enjoy regular fertilizer, and they love compost. They can survive a light frost, although temps below freezing usually damage flowers.
For orchid growers in warmer climates, miniature Cymbidiums like warmer temps. These small varieties are best for growers where summertime temps stay above 70°F (21°C) at night.
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