Cymbidium care

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Q: I purchased a showy cymbidium during the Christmas holidays that is in a 2 gallon pot. The flowers finished a couple of weeks ago, and I see new growth. The plant seems to be in good shape. How should I maintain it through the summer? Should it be divided and repotted or left for another year or two? It does not appear to be pot bound or stressed.

I would not repot this orchid since they generally flower better when root bound. Give the plant plenty of light without burning the foliage, around four hours of direct sunlight a day. The leaves should be upright and a medium olive-green colour. A dark green, limp leaf indicates too much light.

Cymbidiums require a day temperature of about 15 to 20 degrees Celsius and a night temperature of 10 to 17 degrees. Cooler temperatures in late summer and fall are required to initiate flower spikes. This orchid can tolerate a higher temperature if shade, humidity and air circulation are increased.

Water during the summer to keep the plant moist, especially when growing, about every other day. In the winter, water less often just to keep the leaves from drying, say once every week or two.

Feed with a high nitrogen fertilizer, e.g. 30-10-10, during the growing season (spring through to late summer). Late in the summer use a high phosphorus formulation, e.g. 15-30-15, to help form flower spikes. Feed at 1/4 to 1/2 strength every week or full strength every third watering (make sure media is moist before feeding full strength).

Plants normally flower in winter or early spring.