Cymbidium orchids are bold, dramatic, potentially huge orchids that make great container plants for San Diego patio gardens, entryways, and microclimates that do not get hot during summer.
One of the main keys to successful Cymbidium orchid reblooming is keeping them cool and watered through the summer months.
Cymbidium orchids prefer cooler temperatures all year long, without any frosts or freezing. Why is this? Well, I like to emphasize the notion that the goal for any type of gardening is to reproduce your plant’s native habitat. And here our goal is a reblooming Cymbidium orchid. Easy!
The native habitat of most Cymbidium orchids is typically high elevations in tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia; it doesn’t get too hot in these environments. Cymbidium orchids do not live in trees like many epiphytic orchids (e.g. Phalaenopsis, Cattleya). They also do not grow in soil like carrots and cucumbers do. Instead many Cymbidium orchids are considered “semi-terrestrial”, because they grow in loose leaf litter on the ground.
Furthermore, it rains during summer in their native habitat. Therefore, we must provide cool temperatures and sufficient water during summer for our Cymbidium orchids to rebloom later during the winter/spring months.
The frost-free areas along the west coast of North America (that is, right on the coast) provide an ideal environment to grow and rebloom Cymbidium orchids. It’s not too hot, and as long as you water during summer and repot every few years, Cymbidium orchids rebloom very reliably.
During summer while plants are growing leaves, water your Cymbidium orchids more frequently and fertilize. “How often should I water?” That depends on your growing situation: size of containers, size of plant, how long it’s been since you repotted, etc. Well maintained huge specimens in large pots may only need water once a week. A large plant struggling in a one gallon pot may need water every few days during summer months.
If you have not repotted your Cymbidium orchids in more than 4-5 years, do it now! It’s best to repot when the new growth of leaves is still small. Remember Cymbidium orchids bloom in winter/spring (depending on the variety).
Therefore, the longer you wait to repot, the more you could risk your orchid not reblooming later that year. For more repotting specifics and detailed step-by-step repotting instructions, see pages 57-66 in the “Repotting” section in Chapter 2 of my book How Orchids Rebloom.
Watch for new growth! For almost all orchids, if you see new leaves growing, it is your signal to water more often. When you water, remember to water the potting media, not the plant!
Later, once new growths are mature and the pseudobulbs have fully formed in fall or winter, depending on the plant, reduce watering frequency. Greatly reduce watering frequency once flower spikes begin to emerge.
Successful reblooming of Cymbidium orchids greatly depends on keeping your plants cool during summer and providing sufficient water when leaves are growing . And remember to have fun!