Botanical name: Cymbidium spp
Common name: Boat Orchid
Boat Orchids are popular easy to grow indoor orchids that bear large waxy flowers arranged on an unbranched flowering stem which last for weeks.
The lip (lowermost petal) in Boat Orchids 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 Boat Orchids have thin stems but in most species the stems are modified to pseudobulbs.
Where leaves in Boat Orchids 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).
Cymbidium is a genus of orchids occurring in the wild from tropical to subtropical Asia and Australia.
Many cultivars have been developed like the Miniature Cymbidium which is regarded as the beginner's orchid.
Boat Orchids flowers are available in red, white, pink , yellow and green.
Boat Orchid grows best in bright, indirect light for about 10 hours per day.
Keep your Boat Orchid away from direct sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves.
Regularly turn the pot to ensure your Boat Orchid gets adequate light on all sides.
A Boat Orchid that is receiving the right amount of light has light yellow-green upright leaves.
Dark green leaves indicate that your Boat Orchid needs more light.
Yellow (more yellow than green) leaves means your Boat Orchid is receiving too much light. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Water Boat Orchid thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.
Reduce watering for Boat Orchid during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.
To take the guesswork out of watering your Boat Orchid, check the roots.
Whitish-green and plump roots indicate that your Boat Orchid is well hydrated.
Whitish, thin roots indicate your Boat 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 of your Boat Orchid as it can lead to fungal diseases.
Boat 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 your Boat Orchid as it may begin to rot. Read more on how to water houseplants.
The best temperatures for growing Boat Orchid indoors are between 10-290C.
Warmer days and cooler night temperatures with a difference of 10-150C are ideal for Boat Orchid. The cool nights are essential to trigger flowering.
Ensure there is good air circulation as your Boat Orchid cannot tolerate hot and stuffy conditions.
Protect Boat Orchid from draughts to avoid sudden changes in temperature. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.
Moderate humidity is ideal for Boat Orchids. Where the air is too dry, set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity for your Boat Orchid.
Do not mist the leaves of your Boat Orchids as it can lead to fungal diseases. Check out these techniques on how to raise raise humidity for houseplants.
Occasionally clean the leaves of your Boat Orchids by damp-wiping with a soft cloth. Read more on how to clean houseplants.
Feed Boat Orchids every 2 weeks during the growing season with a weak solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.
Withhold feeding for your Boat Orchid 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 your Boat Orchid.
Overfeeding your Boat Orchid may result in loss of roots thus death of the orchid.
If you overfeed your Boat Orchid, it can also lead to vegetative growth instead of flower production. Read more on how to feed houseplants.
Boat Orchids bloom best when they are pot-bound. Repot Boat Orchid only when growth begins to suffer.
Repot Boat Orchid 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 your Boat Orchid every 2-3 years should be adequate.
Repot your Boat Orchid only when new growth begins, shortly after blooming is over.
Use a pot with proper drainage holes or slits as the roots of your Boat Orchid need good air circulation.
The pot for your Boat Orchid should be only 1 size larger than the previous one.
Use loose, free-draining bark soil for your Boat Orchid.
When repotting your Boat Orchid, shake off excess soil and trim off any dried and shrivelled pseudobulbs.
The large Boat Orchids can be divided to propagate new plants.
Pruning Boat Orchid is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife.
When flowering is over for your Boat Orchid, cut the flower stalk 1 in. above the 3rd node from the bottom.
Give Boat Orchid 6 weeks of cool temperature of about 7-100C during the cold season.
Reduce watering for your Boat Orchid but maintain the soil moderately moist during this period.
Withhold feeding for your Boat Orchid during this period.
Take your Boat Orchid back to its usual spot when the 6 weeks period is over.
This kind of treatment will coax your Boat Orchid to flower as it mimicks its natural triggers in the wild.
Boat Orchids can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season once flowering is over from the pseudobulbs.
Gently split the Boat Orchid pseudobulb into sections and ensure there are at least 3 shoots on each section.
Seperate the roots attached to each Boat Orchid division from the mother root-ball.
Remove the old potting soil attached to the roots of the Boat Orchid sections.
Place each Boat Orchid section in the center of the pot.
Bury the roots of the Boat 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 Boat Orchid section.
Ensure the pot has enough drainage holes and slits to prevent root-rot of the Boat Orchid section.
Place the set up in a shaded place until the Boat Orchid sections have established their own roots.
Water the new Boat Orchids lightly to enhance root development. Stake each newly repotted plant.
Photo Credit: Flower Power
Brown soft spots on Boat Orchid leaves are an indication of a fungal disease.
Remove the affected leaves of your Boat Orchid immediately to prevent further spread.
Exposure of Boat Orchid to direct sunshine will result in scorch marks which are brown hard and dry spots on the leaves.
Move your Boat Orchid to a shadier spot or protect it from hot direct sunshine.
This is an indication of Powdery Mildew Disease in Boat Orchid.
Misting the leaves of your Boat Orchid may lead to mildew growth if the water does not evaporate quickly.
Ensure good air circulation for your Boat Orchid and stop misting it.
Limpy and droopy leaves in your Boat Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Water your Boat Orchid thoroughly, maintain the soil consistently moist and allow only the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.
Dark green leaves in your Boat Orchid indicate that your orchid is not getting enough light.
Move your Boat Orchid to a brighter spot. The leaves of a Boat Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be yellow-green.
Yellowish leaves in your Boat Orchid indicate that your orchid is getting too much light.
Move your Boat Orchid to a shadier spot. The leaves of a Boat Orchid that is receiving bright, indirect light should be yellow-green.
The cause of black leaf tips in your Boat 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 your 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.
One possible reason why your Boat Orchid is not blooming is too little light.
Move your Boat Orchid to a brighter spot and ensure it is receiving bright, indirect light.
Overfeeding your Boat Orchid can result in vegetative growth at the expense of flowers production.
Feed your Boat Orchid once monthly with a weak solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.
The cause of bud blast in your Boat Orchid is improper watering. Too much or too little water will cause the flower buds to die before they open.
Water your Boat Orchid thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.
Boat Orchids (Cymbidium Orchid) are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.