How to Grow and Care for Cymbidium Orchid (Boat Orchid) Indoors


Boat Orchid, Cymbidium Orchid

Botanical name: Cymbidium spp
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Cymbidieae
Subtribe: Cymbidiinae
Common name: Boat Orchid

Description

Cymbidium Orchids or Boat Orchids are popular easy to grow orchids which bear large waxy flowers arranged on an unbranched flowering stem that can last for weeks.

The lip (lowermost petal) is significantly different from the other petals and sepals and has three lobes and a spotted center. The shape of the lip gives this orchids their common name, 'Boat Orchids'.

Boat Orchids are prolific bloomers; with several flower spikes bearing up to 100 blooms per season.

Some species of Cymbidium Orchids have thin stems but in most species the stems are modified to pseudobulbs.

Where leaves are present, there are 3-12 light-green leaves arranged in two ranks and they last for several years.

The genus name Cymbidium is derived from the Latin name Cymba meaning "cup", "bowl" or "boat" in reference to the shape of the lip (lowest lower petal).

Origin

Cymbidium is a genus of orchids occurring in the wild from tropical to subtropical Asia and Australia.

Varieties

Many cultivars have been developed like the Miniature Cymbidium which is regarded as the beginner's orchid.

Cymbidium Orchids flowers are available in red, white, pink , yellow and green.

Where to Buy

Boat Orchids in various sizes are available online at Etsy. Buy Cymbidium Orchids (Boat Orchids) online from Etsy.

Boat Orchid, Cymbidium Orchid

Cymbidium Orchid Care Indoors

Cymbidium Orchids (Boat Orchids) require bright, indirect light of about 10 hours per day away from direct sunshine, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, fertile, loose soil coupled with regular feeding inorder to thrive.

Boat Orchids also need regular pruning to keep them neat and tidy and also encourage flowering. Repotting is only required when the orchid becomes extremely pot-bound as they bloom best when root-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Light Requirements

Cymbidium Orchid grows best in bright, indirect light of about 10 hours per day. Keep the orchid away from direct sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves. It can also grow under a grow light where natural light is not adequate.

Regularly turn the pot to ensure that the orchid gets adequate light on all sides for uniform growth.

A Boat Orchid that is receiving the right amount of light has light yellow-green upright leaves. Dark green leaves indicate that the orchid needs more light.

Yellow (more yellow than green) leaves means the Cymbidium Orchid is receiving too much light. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Watering

Water Cymbidium Orchid thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist.

Reduce watering during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

To take the guesswork out of watering, check the roots. Whitish-green and plump roots indicate that the Orchid is well hydrated. Whitish, thin roots indicate the orchid needs to be watered.

Use tepid, chlorine-free water as Boat Orchids are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Avoid wetting the foliage as it can lead to fungal diseases.

Cymbidium Orchids are more tolerant of dry soil conditions due to the presence of pseudobulbs and their thick leaves.

As such take care not to overwater it as it may begin to rot. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature

The best temperatures for growing Cymbidium Orchid indoors are between 10-290C.

Warmer days and cooler night temperatures with a difference of 10-150C are ideal for this orchid. The cool nights are essential to trigger flowering.

Ensure there is good air circulation as it cannot tolerate hot and stuffy conditions.

Keep the Boat Orchid away from draughts to avoid sudden changes in temperature. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Moderate humidity is ideal for Cymbidium Orchids. Where the air is too dry, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.

Do not mist the leaves as it can lead to fungal diseases. Check out these techniques on how to raise raise humidity for houseplants.

Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Cymbidium Orchids every 2 weeks during the growing season with an orchid's fertilizer as per the manufacturer's instructions. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time. Do not feed an orchid that is in flower.

It is better to err on the side of underfeeding than overfeeding as overfeeding may result in loss of roots thus death of the orchid.

If you overfeed a Boat Orchid, it can also lead to vegetative growth instead of flower production. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Cymbidium Orchids bloom best when they are pot-bound. Repot it only when growth begins to suffer. Repot only when the orchid has outgrown its pot and the new growth reaches out over the edge of the pot or when the soil has broken down completely.

Basically repotting a Boat Orchid every 2-3 years should be adequate. Repot only when new growth begins, shortly after blooming is over.

Use a pot with proper drainage holes or slits as the roots need good air circulation.

The pot should be only 1 size larger than the previous one. Use loose, free-draining bark soil to avoid getting soggy soil.

When repotting, shake off excess soil and trim off any dried and shrivelled pseudobulbs. The large Orchids can be divided to propagate new plants.

Soil

The best soil for Cymbidium Orchid should be rich in organic matter, loose, free-draining bark soil to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most orchid potting mixes are ideal. Buy quality Orchid Potting Mix for Boat Orchid from Etsy.

Pruning

Pruning Cymbidium Orchid is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife. When flowering is over, cut the flower stalk 1 in. above the 3rd node from the bottom to encourage more flower growth.

How to Trigger Flowering in Cymbidium Orchid

Give the Cymbidium Orchid 6 weeks of cool temperature of about 7-100C during the cold season.

Reduce watering but maintain the soil moderately moist and withhold feeding during this period.

Take the orchid back to its usual spot when the 6 weeks period is over.

This kind of treatment will coax the Boat Orchid to flower as it mimicks its natural triggers in the wild.

Propagation

Cymbidium Orchids (Boat Orchids) can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season once flowering is over from the pseudobulbs.

How to propagate Cymbidium Orchids from the pseudobulbs

Gently split the Cymbidium Orchid pseudobulb into sections and ensure there are at least 3 shoots on each section.

Seperate the roots attached to each division from the mother root-ball.

Remove the old potting soil attached to the roots of the sections and place each section in the center of the pot.

Bury the roots of the orchid section in the soil while ensuring that the bottom of the pseudobulb is level with the top of the soil.

The best pot should be about 1-2 in. larger than the pseudobulb of the section.

Ensure the pot has enough drainage holes and slits to prevent root-rot of the section.

Place the set up in a shaded place until the sections have established their own roots.

Water the new Boat Orchids lightly to enhance root development. Stake each newly repotted plant.

Boat Orchid, Cymbidium Orchid

Photo Credit: Flower Power

Cymbidium Orchid Problems Indoors

Cymbidium Orchid (Boat Orchid) problems indoors are due to improper care. They include black leaf tips and edges, yellow leaves, drooping leaves, leaf spots, lack of blooms, bud blast among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.

Leaf tips turning black and dying

The cause of black leaf tips in Cymbidium Orchid is the presence of chemicals like chlorine and flourides in the water or accumulation of salts in the soil.

Use chlorine-free water only to water Boat Orchid and flush out accumulated salts from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil for about 10 minutes until it comes out through the drainage holes. Repeat the process several times.

No blooms

One possible reason why Cymbidium Orchid is not blooming is too little light as it blooms best in bright, indirect light of about 10 hours per day.

Move the orchid to a brighter spot and ensure it is receiving bright, indirect light of about 10 hours per day or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate.

The second possible reason for lack of blooms in Boat Orchid is overfeeding. Overfeeding can result in vegetative growth at the expense of flowers production.

Feed the orchid once monthly with a weak solution of an orchid's fertilizer as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Flower buds dying before opening (bud blast)

The cause of bud blast in Cymbidium Orchid is improper watering. Too much or too little water will cause the flower buds to die before they open.

Water the the orchid thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings to maintain the soil moderately moist.

Cut down on watering during the cold period to keep the soil slightly moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Limpy and droopy leaves

Limpy and droopy leaves in Cymbidium Orchid are caused by underwatering. Maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing season and slightly moist during the cold perion but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Water the Boat Orchid thoroughly during the growing season and allow only the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings to maintain the soil moderately moist.

Reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist but do not let it to dry out completely.

Dark-green leaves

Dark green leaves in Cymbidium Orchid indicate that the orchid is not getting enough light as it requires bright, indirect light of about 10 hours per day away from direct sunlight.

Move the orchid to a brighter spot where it will receive bright, indirect light of about 10 hours per day or instal a grow light if natural lighting is not adequate. The leaves of a Boat Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be yellow-green.

Yellowish leaves

Yellowish leaves in Cymbidium Orchid indicate that your orchid is getting too much light. Move the Orchid to a shadier spot. The leaves of a Boat Orchid that is receiving bright, indirect light should be yellow-green.

Brown soft leaf spots

Brown soft leaf spots in Cymbidium Orchid are an indication of a fungal disease. Remove the affected leaves immediately to prevent further spread.

Brown hard and dry leaf spots

Exposure of Cymbidium Orchid to direct sunshine will result in scorch marks which are brown hard and dry spots on the leaves. Move the Orchid to a shadier spot or protect it from hot direct sunshine.

Moldy leaves

Moldy leaves in Cymbidium Orchid is an indication of Powdery Mildew Disease. Misting the leaves may lead to mildew growth if the water does not evaporate quickly. Ensure good air circulation for the Boat Orchid and stop misting it.

Is Cymbidium Orchid toxic?

Cymbidium Orchids (Boat Orchids) are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.

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