Caring for Cymbidium and Orchid Plants

How to Care for Cymbidium and Orchid Plants

Our farmers markets offer the best selections of potted cymbidiums and orchids — and at unbeatable prices! Orchids are renowned for their beautiful, long-lasting blooms and make dramatic centerpieces when grouped together on a table. However, after you get your exotic purchases home, you may be wondering how to care for them.

Cymbidium Plants
Potted cymbidium flowers can last 8-10 weeks, and typically bloom in the early spring — although some bloom as early as October. Our cool, mild coastal climate is perfect for growing cymbidums outdoors as long as they are protected from frost. Cymbidiums thrive best with medium to bright light intensity, so choose a spot on your deck or garden where the plants are protected from intense, full sun.

Cymbidums should be repotted every two years using a specialty loose, coarse orchid mix. The best time to repot cymbidiums is in the late spring, after blooming. Many prefer to use clay pots (instead of plastic) since clay pots allow for water to evaporate faster and maintains the drier conditions that Cymbidiums require. Cymbidiums can also be divided and propagated, which is generally done when it’s time to repot the plant.

Here is a video about how to divide and repot cymbidium plants.

Ornamental Orchids
Orchids are deceptively easy to care for houseplants despite their exotic and fragile appearance. Orchid vendors at the farmers markets include McLellan Botanicals and Rocket Farms — it’s hard not to miss their massive displays of colorful orchid plants! The blooms last about 30-60 days and require very little care.

McLellan Botanicals, located in Aromas, is one of the world’s largest commercial growers and suppliers of orchids and ornamental foliage. Every year, the company’s orchid breeders select for propagation the plants with the largest blooms, the most desirable colors and the hardiest foliage, which results in the high quality plants with stunning blooms that you see at the Aptos, MPC, and Del Monte Farmers Markets.

The cool coastal climate is ideal for growing orchids — the most important thing to remember is not to overwater orchids. When it’s time to water, place the orchid in a basin of water and allow the medium to soak up the water, then allow the plant medium to drain thoroughly.

Here’s an excerpt from McLellan Botanical’s guide for orchid care:

Phalaenopsis (fah-lay-NOP-sis)
phalaenopsisPhalaenopsis, commonly referred to as the “Moth Orchid,” are considered one of the easiest orchids to grow in the home. The long lasting flowers bloom in perfection for up to three months. While the flowering season may vary, the plant can bloom more than once during the year. Phalaenopsis have become one of the most popular varieties of orchids due to their easy care and delicately poised vibrant floral formations.
Temperature: Day 70°-90° F, Night 60°-70° F
Water: Every 1-2 weeks. Keep evenly moist. Avoid wet foliage at night. Do not allow roots to sit in standing water.
Light: Moderate indirect light. No direct sun
Fertilizer: 1-2 times a month, less in winter, never fertilize a dry plant
Humidity: Phalaenopsis enjoy moist air 55-75% humidity is ideal. Humidity can be increased by placing plant over a tray of water with some pebbles or rocks etc. to raise the pot above the water.
Repotting: Plants should be repotted every other year. Since Phalaenopsis grow upwards, they can be repotted into the same sized pot. Sphagnum moss works well with the base of the bottom leaf at the surface of the medium. Water sparingly until new roots are established. One advantage of using sphagnum moss is that you can wrap a bit more moss around the old root ball and place it into another pot. Do not place in a draft, near a heater or dehumidifier.

Dendrobium – Phalaenopsis Type (den-droh-bee-um)
dendrobiumMost Dendrobium orchids are called “Phalaenopsis type” because their flowers resemble those of the Phalaenopsis. Phalaenopsis type are evergreen, while other varieties of Dendrobium shed their leaves in the fall and winter. Dendrobiums are also commonly used as cut flowers because of their sturdy stems and distinctive coloring.
Temperature: Day 70°-90° F, Night 60°-65° F
Water: Allow to dry slightly between waterings
Light: Bright indirect light
Fertilizer: Twice a month, less in winter
Repotting: Repot once every two years in spring after blooming or when new growth starts. Medium grade fir bark works well in 4″ pots and larger.

Cymbidium (sym-BID-ee-um)
cymbidiumThere are two basic types of Cymbidiums: standard and miniature. Generally, the miniatures bear smaller but more flowers than the standards and bloom somewhat earlier. Most miniatures bloom from November through March, while standards bloom from late December through May. Cymbidiums are basically cool-growing orchids and best grown outdoors or in cool greenhouses.
Temperature: Cymbidiums will tolerate considerable summer heat as long as they get cool, mild night temperatures between 45°-60°F. Cold weather, even down to 28°F for a few hours each night, will not damage an acclimatized plant, but once the plant spikes or flowers, it should be protected from temperatures below 35°F. Plants should always be kept free of frost.
Water: Cymbidiums should not be allowed to go dry, but should not be over watered either. Water once a week making adjustments for warmer or cooler weather.
Light: Plants should receive morning or afternoon sun, yet should be protected from the hot midday sun. A light green leaf with just a hint of yellow indicates the maximum amount of sun the plant can take, and a dark green leaf indicates not enough sun.
Fertilizer: Twice a month, less in winter.
Repotting: Repot every 2-3 years from February to June with a well draining potting medium. Fine bark is suitable in mild summer climates, while a finer potting medium works well in warmer summer areas.

{ Read full orchid care article }