Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cymbidium Season

There is a season for everything.  In my garden, now is cymbidium season.   While the rest of the plants are just beginning to awake from their winter rest, these outdoor orchids are putting on a spectacular show. 

Cymbidium flowers have an incredibly long life span. When left outdoor under a protected area the blooms can last from four to six weeks depending on prevailing temperatures and available moisture. Based on my experience, they can outlive their desirability. With clean water, cut flowers have a vase-life of two to three weeks.

Cymbidiums prefer being outdoors where they can get bright lights but away from direct hot sun, gusty winds and frost.  Here in our Zone 9 area, night time temperatures still come close to freezing at times and the ornamental pear tree (Bradford) that provides a protective shelter in the summer is still bare at this time.  And although these orchids can withstand some frost, we usually move them into the patio for protection during the cold months of January-March and also for a little cover from direct sunlight.  When they are done blooming they go back where they can get as much sunlight as they can while temperatures are still below "scorching-levels". This arrangement works well for me since the patio is right next to the dining room window; we get to enjoy the flowers more. It is alright to bring the orchids indoors when they are bursting with flowers but they need to go back outside as soon as possible in order to keep the plants healthy and strong. Generally, I prefer to cut the flowers and leave the mother-plants outside. This way, next year's bloom is not compromised.

It is obvious from the pictures here that I need to learn the discipline of staking.  Staking is a process. It is not a one-time activity.  Success in staking can be achieved when the process is started when the spikes are short and then tied progressively higher as they lengthen.  Staked flower spikes look stately and elegant but the natural bent-look of their unsupported counterparts gives the appearance of freedom and playfulness in the cymbidium.  So it is a matter of preference.

  The name cymbidium comes from the ancient Greek word "kymbe" meaning hollow vessel - referring to the cupped base of the lip.  For that reason, cymbidium is also referred to as the boat orchid


Patty said...

Cymbidiums are gorgeous orchids. I grew one once on the windowsill and it actually flowered. Your orchids are absolutely beautiful !!

Helen Lewis said...

Hi Patty -- Yes they are beautiful especially this time of the year. They seem to thrive in my garden with little maintenance. The most difficult part is moving them to the right place depending on the season. :)

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