Cymbidium week continues with Cymbidium insigne. Similarities with yesterday’s Cymbidium sanderae are obvious but as a terrestrial species, that grows amongst grass, this cymbidium has a very long and very upright flower spike to present the flowers clear of all foliage.
Cymbidium insigne is a terrestrial species found in the mountains that straddle Northern Thailand, Northern Vietnam and Southern China. It grows in poor soils in the vicinity of Rhododendron species that it mimics. Bees mistake the Cymbidium flowers (which have no reward) for nectar filled Rhododendron flowers allowing the orchid to gain pollination with minimum use of scarce resources. The flowers are long lasting and come in shades of white, pink and cream.
We grow many of our Cymbidiums including this species really cool in our Warm Temperate section which has a minimum winter temperature of 5C and vents that open when ever the temperature exceeds 10C. We replicate the monsoon conditions experienced in the natural habitat with heavy watering from April until the end of September and then keep the plants damp at other times. We believe that the most common reasons for people not flowering Cymbidiums are under-watering (especially in the summer months) or excessive damage from red spider mite that can easily occur if plants are kept too hot and dry.
We find that this species grows well from seed and flowers in around five years from sowing if grown well.