Boat Orchids

Cymbidiums, or Boat Orchids, are some of the most popular orchids in the world. Their beauty and hardiness have helped turn them into favorite houseplants, cut flowers, and corsages. This current popularity is merely the latest chapter in their long history, since Cymbidiums have been cultivated in East Asia for thousands of years.

Cymbidium hybridCymbidium flowersCymbidium hybrid

There are over 50 species of Boat Orchids, which occur naturally from the Himalayas through South Asia and East Asia, and into Northern Australia and the Philippines. Thousands of hybrid varieties, with new ones appearing all the time, ensure that Cymbidiums are always fashionable. Each flower stem can hold dozens of blooms, which can last for months. Some kinds have rich fragrances, but many are unscented.

Triple-lip Cymbidium flowerCymbidium flowerCymbidium flowers

Cymbidium flowersCymbidium flowers and leavesCymbidium flowers

To bloom, Cymbidiums need cool nights, with temperature drops of at least 10° – 15°F (6° – 8°C) below daytime highs. Boat Orchids can handle a wide range of temperatures, and they can even survive a light frost. They enjoy regular water and fertilizer. Some types have been grown in China, Korea, and Japan for over 2000 years. Traditionally kept in tall, slender pots, Boat Orchids have been frequent subjects for Asian art, literature, and poetry. For centuries, they have stood as elegant symbols of nobility and friendship.

Cymbidium species in traditional Asian potCymbidium species traditionally grown in East AsiaCymbidium species

Explore posts in the same categories: Cool Growers, Fertilizing, Fragrant Orchids, Photos, Watering

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5 Comments on “Boat Orchids”

  1. CC94 Says:

    I love cymbidiums! Such an amazing color! Thanks for the pics I have never seen an orange one.

  2. Carol Says:

    Hello: your website suggests for my phalanopsis that I should “regularly water” the plant, but I don’t know what that means – I worked for 20 years in a natural history museum and these are my first orchids and they are spectacular (came from Big Y supermarket), so I would like to treat them well. How often does one water these plants? Many thanks, your website is spectacular and helpful, thank you,

  3. Marc Says:

    Hi Carol. Your watering question is a common frustration for orchid beginners, who often find confusing, and even contradictory, watering instructions. There’s a reason for that: the answer to your question about how often to water is “It depends.” Watering frequency depends on several interrelated factors, such as what kind of orchid you have, temperatures, how much light it gets, what time of year it is, how good the humidity and air movement are, and what kind of material the orchid is potted in.

    Since you know your orchid is a Phalaenopsis, that really helps. You should water your Phal whenever the potting material dries. Check these tips about how to know when to water. If your Phal is planted in bark, you may need to water twice a day on a hot summer day, but only once a week in winter. If your Phal is planted in moss and you have high humidity, you may only need to water once or twice a month. Warmer temps, strong light, strong breezes, and low humidity will all cause plants to dry faster and demand more frequent waterings.

  4. Kyle Lopes Says:

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written! Wonderful orchid shots!

  5. Danielle Fossum Says:

    Many thanks for sharing! What beautiful flowrs.