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  #1  
Old 11-19-2022, 10:43 AM
smweaver smweaver is offline
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Default Spikes on Standard Cymbidiums (or, never say never)

The Midwest is not what you would call an ideal environment to grow standard cymbidiums--or maybe to grow, but not to flower. So I'm quite proud to have done something correct--even if only temporarily--as three of my cymbidiums are now in spike:

Cymbidium Tethys 'Black Magic'
Cymbidium Redondo Sunset 'Goliath'
Cymbidium Redondo Gold 'Stunner'

All three were bought during a moment of impulsive foolishness a year ago from Joe Santy in the Los Angeles area, after staring with envy at many pictures of his plants (in addition to his own website, Joe has a Facebook page, and following it is a very bad habit for anyone who desires to grow a genus of orchids where they probably shouldn't be grown). As soon as the buds open I think I might send Joe some photos to let him know that he wasn't condemning his babies to a slow death.
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Old 11-19-2022, 02:51 PM
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Well done! They clearly got what they needed. Typically the issue isn't "not living" - Cyms grow under pretty much any conditions, but "not blooming" - not getting a chill when they need it in the fall. Whatever you did in terms of timing (when you brought them inside) keep on doing it! Of course, with success, you need MORE of them!
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  #3  
Old 11-19-2022, 02:52 PM
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When I lived in St Louis and dragged plants in and out, a 6" / 15cm pot was considered almost too big to deal with.
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Old 11-20-2022, 02:41 PM
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Well done! They clearly got what they needed.
Thank you, Roberta. I'm not really sure what I did. I did leave them outside for as long as possible, even allowing them to experience night temperatures in the mid to high 30's. I also stopped fertilizing them in July, even though a few of the plants had not yet fully grown their newest pseudobulbs. I did do a little homework in advance and tried to pick plants that didn't have a lot of traceyanum in their background, while conversely having a good deal of lowianum. I figured I'd have better luck with plants that have genes from a spring-flowering species instead of a fall-flowering species (mainly because I have a hard time providing cool nights in the summer months).

But even with the research, to be perfectly honest, a few of the ones that I thought were big enough to bloom were happy just making new growths. The Redondo Sunset is maybe a little more than half the size of Redondo Gold, but it (Sunset) is the one with the spike. I'm pretty sure they're closely related, so I'm not quite certain why the bigger plant has decided to simply get bigger and not provide a spike. On the other hand, the Tethys surprised me when I found two spikes. It's not at all a big plant (bit of a runt, actually, in comparison to the two Redondo's), so maybe my understanding of what counts as a "standard" cymbidium is a little flawed (I'm equating "standard" with "big," but maybe that's a wrong assumption).
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Old 11-20-2022, 02:54 PM
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The nomenclature of Cymbidiums is fuzzy... back when, The terms applied more to the flowers than the plant. Standard was the term for the "beast" - big plants with tall inflorescences and big flowers. "Novelty" or "Intermediate" described the mid-sized ones. "Miniature" was applied to small flowers - sometimes on big plants. I think of them more in terms of culture. You're right, if there's a significant amount of spring or summer blooming species in the background of the plant, it's likely to be more forgiving of lack of chill. Those sometimes get termed "warmth tolerant" which I think is a misnomer... I have never met a Cym other than some of the small Chinese species that had a problem with triple-digit summer temps. It's more like "hot-muggy-nights tolerant.

Since yours are of southern California origin (not particularly bred for "warmth tolerance") you just hit it right. Actually, in the fall they don't so much need to be really cold, the trigger is more like what you get a bit earlier with warm, bright days and cool nights. I think the term used is "Indian summer". In southern California, it's a natural weather pattern in the fall (timing may vary as much as +/- 6 weeks or so), with 80 deg F days and nights in the low 60's or high 50's F and sunny. September/October are typically quite warm. But frost is rare to non-existent, at least until January or so. This type of pattern will be more variable, and likely much shorter in duration, in areas that will get very cold.
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Old 11-20-2022, 05:34 PM
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Thank you, Roberta. I appreciate the additional information you provided!
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Old 01-11-2023, 08:43 PM
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Hi, I am another member of Midwestern Cymbidiums Anonymous and I wanted to tell you that although I did not succumb to the charms of Joe's cyms, I was enabled by your post to buy a batch of seedlings from Casa de las Orquideas, although it will be a while before they are spiking like yours. Which I finally feel safe enough to admit since they are still alive two months later. And that is an accomplishment here Roberta! The indoor humidity in our house was 30 freaking percent last week (this is what happens despite humidifiers when the outside temperatures go below 0° F.) and it was so cloudy for so long some of my plants got sunburnt when the sun came out again.

And I apologize for those of you who saw my ramble about Casa, life and everything on the Vendors forum, I am suffering from a slight case of something called "cabin fever". Which is a real thing that happens when two back to back snowstorms followed by freezing rain keep you from getting out to the gym for three weeks, and your only exercise is shoveling snow off the driveway between your garage door and the street, plus some of the roof, and you don't dare order any live plants because they will freeze into a block of ice while on the mail truck. .
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Old 01-11-2023, 09:05 PM
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Actually, I don't think that keeping the Cyms alive will be a particular problem. Low humidity? Not a problem if kept damp. ("Normal" summer humidity at my house is around 40%, but when we get hot, dry winds, it can go to single digits, and the Cyms are not fazed in the slightest) They also can tolerate summer days with triple-digit (F) temperatures with just a bit of mid-day shading, and winter nights down to 29 deg F or so. (Which to you means, grab them and get them inside when fall turns to frost, long before "winter")

Your challenge will be getting them to bloom and not just make leaves when they get big enough - in the fall, the trigger is cool nights and warm, bright days for most of them. There are some so-called "warmth-tolerant" Cyms that don't need the cool-down because they have summer-blooming tropical species in their ancestry. Casa de las Orquideas mostly breeds the "standard" ones that want something approaching the southern California weather pattern. You can come close, with a really good watch on night temps so that you don't get nailed by frost. And possibly investing in some supplemental light so that you can give the "bright" part when they have to move indoors.
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Old 01-11-2023, 11:39 PM
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Low humidity? Not a problem if kept damp. ("Normal" summer humidity at my house is around 40%, but when we get hot, dry winds, it can go to single digits, and the Cyms are not fazed in the slightest)
Really, I did not know that they're OK getting that dry. Although I guess there are Australian species and they must be adapted to that so it makes sense. It does make me feel a bit better about my seedlings then, I thought I was torturing them.

I do have one 10 year old NOID standard cym and had the problem of it just growing lots of leaves like a daylily. But I found Orchidboard three summers ago, and realized it did not have to come inside with our "tropical" plants, and since then it puts up spikes like clockwork every year.

It stays outside until day temperatures reach down to the low 40s, occasionally moving into the garage for overnight stints when temperatures are forecast to be 28° F or lower. I also give it lots more sun than I used to, and fertilize heavily which I did not before because "orchids are delicate and you have to be gentle with them". Now it gets treated more like a geranium or tomato plant. In the spring it gets some Milorganite aka "Milwaukee's finest" (a pelleted processed biosolids fertilizer) and this year I am thinking of trying the horse manure technique on some divisions as an experiment. The lighting in winter is a bit of a difficulty; it is in front of a west window but because the sun angle is so low in the winter it doesn't get very much, and of course it doesn't fit under the tube lights. So the window light is supplemented with a "octopus" floor lamp with three compact flourescent bulbs and two grow bulbs.

No one sells cymbidiums locally, in fact few places stock anything other than mass-market phals most of the time. I did not have any experience ordering live plants by mail, so Lonesome George was it until I had some success first ordering a few epiphyllum cuttings on etsy, and then last summer a couple of cattleya seedlings from Hausermann, and said Eureka! this really works. So I decided Lonesome George was ready for some companions. The only reason I didn't get any sooner was that the main cymbidium growers do not seem to have much online presence, at least not the click-to-buy type like other orchid outfits have.

Now that I have been looking at the Casa and other catalogues I still am not sure how to interpret the "pedigrees". Not the basic species ancestries -- I did find Orchid Roots and that was very interesting -- but rather what constitutes an award winning cymbidium. The details of flower form and nuances of color and so on. It's like when you watch dog shows or the cow or horse judging at the State Fair and think, Well, they all look like very nice dogs to me! but the judges see all sorts of things you don't see. I'm perfectly fine just having some green leaves and a few colorful flowers in midwinter, but it's fascinating to me what those educated eyes must see, and I don't know how you learn that. (When I was searching for information on cymbidium varieties I came upon another orchid forum with ... let's say a very opinionated fella in the way of cymbidium breeding and other matters, but I can't say I really learned anything useful.)

Edited to add: also Roberta, I keep meaning to tell you that I look at your "orchids in bloom" page all the time, and it is very cheering in winter. Although it also makes me want to buy more orchids, which is NOT a good idea in winter here.

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  #10  
Old 01-12-2023, 12:03 AM
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Sorry, we're all enablers here...

My Cyms never get dry. The air may be dry, but the roots are moist. I water a lot, and use small bark. As orchids go, Cyms are among the most durable, and forgiving of environmental insults. (The only one that I can think of that is just as tough is L. anceps)

As far as judging standards, we have some AOS judges who participate on the Board, who can talk about what they are looking for in deciding what to award. I have opinions about what I like but that's all they are... I'm likely to just put my foot in my mouth if I spout off. (And I do know who you're talking about...)
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