Fall is here and it’s time to think about bringing your cymbidiums indoors for the winter. (Yes – they stay outdoors this long!)
Cymbidiums need a shock of cold weather to trigger blooming. In most climates this means leaving them outdoors until after Halloween – and sometimes even until Thanksgiving! Cymbidiums can withstand temperatures as low as 27 degrees, but I don’t recommend waiting that long.
If this is your first year growing cymbidiums, bringing them indoors can be stressful because you’ve nurtured your plants along all summer and you don’t want to mess it up now.
Relax, this isn’t complicated. And you don’t need special tools. There are 2 things to remember however:
- Have patience. This is basically a waiting game for blooms appear. Don’t try force your plant(s). Some varieties bloom sooner than others.
- Don’t over do it. Moving indoors slows the plant’s metabolism and they can’t handle water and nutrients the way they did outdoors. So take it easy (more on this below).
How to Care for Cymbidiums After Moving Indoors
Caring for cymbidiums after the move indoors is as simple as 1 – 2 – 3 .
- Find the coolest spot in your house that has good light.
- Cut back on water and nutrients.
- Then wait (the hardest part)!
Finding a sunny window can be tricky this time of year because Mother Nature isn’t very cooperative. Days are short and sunlight is weak. No worries though, your plants have stored up all the sun they need for blooming when they were outdoors.
Water and Nutrients:
Cut back on the water and stop using nutrients altogether. Moving your plants indoors slows their metabolism and they don’t need much water. Slowly pour water over pebbles until it drains out the bottom of the grow pot – then stop. Repeat once a week.
Temperature is important. Keep your plants as cool as possible after bringing them indoors. 50 – 60 degrees if possible. (a Hi/Lo thermometer is good for this)
Close off any heat vents that are near the window. If that’s not practical, install heat deflectors over the vents so the hot air from the furnace is diverted away from your plants. If the leaves move when the furnace turns on – there’s trouble.
In January things get exciting because you can start looking for flower spikes!
A new flower spike signals a new blooming season! Increase watering 1/4 on gauge (or 1/4 – 1/2″ deep in the saucer if you’re not using a water gauge). Wait until plant is completely dry before rewatering. That means waiting several days after water gauge reads “Min” (or the saucer is dry). Could be 2 weeks between waterings.
Start feeding again – this time with a “bloom formula”. I use and recommend Dyna-Gro “Bloom 3-12-6” (1/2 tsp per gallon) to encourage bigger blooms that last longer.
Continue this watering schedule throughout the bloom cycle. Resist the temptation to water more and adding an extra dose of nutrients to get more blooms. Forcing blooms will do more harm than good!
Grower Tip: “Bloom” nutrients don’t make your plants bloom. Only light and temperature can do that. Bloom nutrients simply encourage bigger, brighter blooms that last longer.
Enjoy the Flowers!
After the first couple of flowers open, you can move your plant(s) away from their growing area and display them wherever they look their best. They don’t need light to complete their bloom cycle. In fact, cooler temperatures away from the sun will prolong the life of the flowers.
Blooms can last anywhere from 1-3 months.
After the Blooms Have Faded
Cymbidiums go dormant after blooming. This corresponds with their dry season in nature.
Cut the flower stems all the way down to the base of the plant and move it back to its growing area. Now you’ll be watering just enough to keep the plant from dehydrating. Simply pour water (without nutrients) over the pebbles once a week or so. No standing water at the base.
Don’t expect new growth until the plants go back outdoors in the spring and a new growing season begins.
The best time for repotting cymbidiums (and all orchids for that matter) is after blooming cycle. So if your plant needs a bigger pot – or you want to transfer it to hydroponics – now is the time to do it.
Want to know more about growing these magnificent plants?
Go to Cymbidium Success on our website.
Or, go to our YouTube page to see our videos on growing and transplanting cymbidiums.