The Cymbidium, also known as the ‘boat’ orchid, gets its name from the Greek word for boat; ‘kymbe’. This refers to the form of the base of the lip, which curves into a hollow shape. The Cymbidium became popular during the Victorian era when it was discovered they could survive colder temperatures better than most tropical plants. With their bright displays of colour, they quickly became a popular choice for patio and window box decoration.
Cymbidium grows in tropical and subtropical climes; such as northern Australia, northern India, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Borneo.
Cymbidium blooms during the winter and can produce up to 15 flowers per plant. Varying from 5cm to 15cm, the flowers come in a variety of colours including white, green, yellowish-green, cream, yellow, brown, pink, red and orange.
Typically, these plants grow in good light with plenty of water. They must have cool nights throughout the spring and summer months in order for the flowers to shoot. The best time to plant is from the end of February until the end of June.
There are 44 species of Cymbidium with several sub-species, although many types of hybrids have also become popular with growers across the world.
When growing Cymbidium, always keep the soil moist and don’t allow it to dry out. But also keep in mind not to water-log it. The key to growing Cymbidium is to keep a good balance between wet and dry soil.
Did you know?
- Cymbidium hookerianum is considered a delicacy in Bhutan where it is traditionally cooked in a spicy curry or stew and called ‘olatshe’ or ‘olachoto’.
- Cymbidium is one of the most popular orchids in the world because of its distinctively stunning flowers. They make great houseplants, and are also used in floral arrangements – including wedding flowers and corsages.
- Cymbidium is the oldest cultivated orchid, and there is evidence that they were grown in China 2500 years ago, around the time of Confucius.