Orchids for Autumn Grace

Updated: Mar 10, 2021

Cymbidiums are exquisite, yet remarkably easy orchids to grow.

cymbidium flower buds opening leaves
Cymbidium beginning to bloom.

Autumn has always been a conflicting time. The day's draw in, the skies cloud over and the nights become steadily colder. This year is harder still as the nation is placed in “Lock-down” yet again. Gone are the easy, carefree days of summer. So now, what bright beautiful gifts our gardens can give us are so much more precious!

“Orchids have that rare, exotic quality. Some are famously finicky even in the care of expert hands, but not Cymbidiums!”

With their long strap leaves, they could be mistake for some large grass and indeed they are monocotyledons (meaning the leaf veins are parallel). But take a closer look and you will see a fat pseudobulb (the energy store) at the base of each leaf grouping. Then, you have those remarkable and enormously varied flowers!

Simple Care

You hear it all the time I am sure “good drainage, needed!” and Cymbidiums are a prime example. These stunning plants will love being outdoors most of the year (will likely even survive mild Winters in the South/London). During the coldest part of Winter its worth bringing them into a cold greenhouse, conservatory or by a window in a shed. As you hear time and time again in gardening “good draining” is key. Select a large terracotta pot, though not so big you can't move it. Using a large bucket mix up around a third Leca (to improve drainage-see Google for sellers) a third of large bark chip and a third of charcoal chunks. Mix this together equally and then plant your Cymbidium. I favour a tray under my plants and a nice sunny spot. Then all there is to do is feed with a liquid fertiliser every four weeks, I like using seaweed-based feeds.

Most local garden centres and nurseries will have a selection of different colours and flower styles, typically in their “house plant” section and if you are in London, Columbia Road Flower Market has many beautiful examples!

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