Over the last two years, we’ve been quietly developing our orchid collection ready to create a new display for the Ninfarium. It’s been an exciting task that has allowed us to investigate many different varieties of orchid whilst determining which are the most suitable for our space.
At Aberglasney we have limited resources, and since we don’t have a large, heated glasshouse, we’ve needed to look for tough orchid varieties that are easy to look after but still produce wonderful flowers. To our delight we’ve found many different options, but the best are Cymbidium orchids. They are ideal for any home gardener with access to a glasshouse or conservatory and will even do well on windowsills.
Considering they’re easy to grow, some may be surprised by how spectacular they are. They have wonderful arching stems that can grow to be over a meter tall and their grassy leaves are a lovely backdrop for their flowers. They make nicely balanced pot plants, however, since they are quite large for orchids they’ll need a sizeable pot of around 12inches in diameter to be comfortable. Between the pot and their tall stems, you’re looking at about 1.5m in height, so they certainly will add impact to a space.
What’s most impressive about these orchids is their long flowering period: three to four months per flower stem isn’t unusual. Their longevity makes them great value for money. They also seem to come in every colour and pattern imaginable so there’s guaranteed to be one to suit any colour scheme.
The flowers themselves are beautifully poised along their arching stems. They can grow to five centimeters in width and a single stem can hold over twenty flowers. Most will bloom between October and March providing some well-needed cheer in the bleak winter months when striking colour is hard to come by.
There’s over 2000 cultivars of Cymbidium orchids; they can be found growing all over the world from the Himalayas to Australia. They’re almost frost hardy but its not advisable to allow them to dip below 7 degrees as, since they’re winter flowering, doing so could risk damaging their blooms. They enjoy a warm indoor spot in the winter (a frost-free glasshouse or conservatory is ideal), but from June to September they’re happy outside and are more likely to flower well having had some cool nights. Leaving them outdoors in the summer also helps with pests and disease and, if left in a sheltered and shady spot, they’ll need very little watering as they’re quite low maintenance.
Cymbidium, like many orchids, are very long-lived and will be a wonderful annual floral event that you can look forward to enjoying for many years. Yet, unlike most orchids, they don’t grow on trees and generally prefer to grow on the ground or on rocks which means they’ll be very happy in a pot with standard orchid compost. A little trick we’ve learnt is to grow them in a plastic pot for ease but then plunge them into a clay pot during their flowering period; this’ll showcase their stunning flowers and help them to look even more fantastic (if that’s even possible..!).
Tips for the Week:
- Sow tomato seeds in a heated propagator
- Mulch your borders whilst its dry
- Turn compost heaps and make sure they’re covered
- Cleaning the windows of your glasshouse is always good to put on your January to-do list
- Cover any strips of soil that you plan to plant or dig (it makes like so much easier!)
- Sow sweet peas in tall pots