Calling all "judges" for the annual DG County Fair! Vote for your favorites here!

Cymbidium orchids won't flower.

Merino, Australia

I am new to the site and am looking for someone to please tell me why my cymbidiums hate me. I have had some of them for over 8 years . Even when in flower at purchase, they never do it again. I live in a cold winter, hot summer area of south west Victoria and have the little dears in a shadehouse lined on roof and 3 sides with plastic to keep the winter rain off. After nearly losing some to rotten roots from a wet winter outside, I built the new house and potted them all in scoria. They grow pretty well but always seem to have dead brown ends on the leaves and no flowers not even a stem. I have looked in books and asked questions but nothing helps. I fertilise fortnightly with orchid feed and a little Maxicrop seaweed fertiliser. Can someone please tell me how to make them love me and flower ?

Thumbnail by 77sunset
nelson, New Zealand(Zone 9a)

77, I only have one little miniature orchid which I have only had for 6 months and it did flower. But you might like to have a look at the website below where it talks about growing 'hard' or growing 'soft', which may be of use.

http://www.how-to-grow-orchid.com/care-of-the-orchid-flower.htm

Hope it opens o.k. for you.

Merino, Australia

Hello ferrymead
Thank you for your reply and link. I tried that site and although it has helpful info, there is nothing new. I find most places give out the same info. I follow what I learn but it seems there is something here that the orchids just don't like. It must be me, as the neighbour on the next farm about half a mile away has his orchids flower every year. It is a standing joke between us because his sheep ate his plants a few years ago and they still grew and flowered. I guess I will have to get used to non flowering orchids and grow something else. Strangely though, my dendrobium orchids do well and do flower.
I think I'll just pretend they aren't there and see what happens.

nelson, New Zealand(Zone 9a)

What a mystery, the plants look so healthy, perhaps when the fill up the post more and become root bound they will do their stuff for you. Know how galling it must be that sheep eaten orchids flower when yours being sheep free do not.!!

I bought 2 variegated geranium plants a year ago and they have never flowered but all my other green leaved geraniums have! I don't know whether one just grows them for the leaf colour or whether I have done something wrong. I also have a potted Peace lily, it has only flowered twice in the five years I have had it, I give it the proper fertilizer with no result. Perhaps I should forget about trying for flowers from that too!

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

77, I had good luck growing cybidiums when I lived in California. One factor for flowering is to not to fertilize in the fall, winter seasons. Another is high light levels (except when it is hot-over 30C). Your plants look a little too green, the best flowering plants are usually a little bronze in color, they might need brighter conditions. Keeping too warm and away from light at night in the winter may also be a factor, they may be photo sensitive. I know they won't bloom well if kept too warm, they have a chill requirement. Don't repot too often, pot bound is best. Everytime you split a clump you have to wait 2 years for them to establish themselves. I used to wait until the center had died out, remove the spent bulbs and put the remainder back in the same size container with new bark.

Also check and see what conditions your successful neighbor has and try to duplicate those conditions. Benign neglect works very well sometimes

I have one cybidium here and it is not doing well in this year around warm climate. There is a grower across the bay from my place that sells 'in flower' plants every spring. I have asked them questions, but, they don't really give good answers, so I have given up on them as a source for good information. I do much better with the warm growing types now.

This message was edited Jan 20, 2007 9:10 PM

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Coffs Harbour, Australia

Hi again sunset, I dragged this one up from the depths. Did you get your cymbidiums to flower? They should be starting soon! I too have orchids that hate me and never flower. I put them in morning sun on the eastern side of the shade house and just generally ignore them now. I did cut one right back because the leaves had black spots, but it came right back, spots and all, and is still sitting there doing nuffin!
I'm doing some holiday watering for a neighbour and hers are the spitting image of the perfect orchid, with 3-4 spikes of big fat flower buds. I'm hoping they will emerge while I'm looking after them. If so be prepared for pics!

Merino, Australia

Hello again weed_woman. No, my orchids have not flowered yet. I have them in their own shade house which is half covered in plastic to keep the cold winter rain off the little darlings. They sit there and grow new shoots which always turn out to be leaves. I ignore them and water when I think of it. I feed in the warm weather but they still hate me. I have a son in Darwin who delights in ringing me all the time to tell me about another one of his 100s of orchids that flower. Aren't kids a pain when they can do something better than we can ?
Must away as its shopping day and we have to get down to Portland today , which is a good hours drive away.

Sydney, Australia

My experience is that we buy these lovely things in full flower and we fall in love with them....and leave the flowers on the plant. My garden bible says never leave them on longer than 2 weeks as it exhausts the bulbs.They last for ages as cut flowers anyway.
Next the light is very important....they need a bit of sun ....not midday of course but mid morning....starting around the end of Feb until it gets too cold.They can't handle too much water......and need perfect drainage....why don't you use the special orchid pine stuff
to grow them in.I think too much feed is a mistake .....if you think about it they live in trees and get by on the odd dollop of bird poo and any nutrients that drip down from the leaves .....a dead insect
here and there....bits of dead leaves etc.Then in Autumn they enjoy a bit of extra light because some of the trees drop leaves and the sun is lower in the sky and filters through places it did'nt in the Summer......I hope your orchids flower for you next season.....pretty things even without the flowers. :)

Merino, Australia

Hello chrissy. You do not know my orchids. They are a breed of their own . I have over the years followed all the advice known to man. I have bought a couple with flowers but have taken the flower off to put inside in a vase each time. I have tried feeding and not feeding. They get plenty of light but no direct hot sun I tried orchid mix, composted pine bark and a mixture of both. My son in Darwin , with all his magnificent orchids gives me endless advice . He keeps his on wood or in screenings. Of course they are in the perfect climate up there.
I have a neighbour here with orchids also. He keeps his out in an old leanto shed and one year the sheep ate them all off. They still grow and flower every year as he delights in telling me. I have had mine now in scoria for the past 3 years. They grow well and each time a shoot forms, I think, oh , a flower but all I get is more leaves. They are looking well at the moment and have not been fed since summer and I forget when I did water them last. So you see they hate me.
I have a dendrobium bought about 12 years ago with my first cymbidiums and it flowers every year and drops pups like you would not believe. Evrything loves me but the orchids. Oh well , they have their shadehouse and can just sit in it and grow. One day I may get a surprise and see a flower.

Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

I have also been afflicted with the curse of the non-blooming Cymbidium. I have had about a dozen over the years and I currently have (from memory) 4 live plants. This year I am super-chuffed. I have my very first ever repeat bloomer, a miniature called Bedivere Highbury. I purchased 4 plants and a dormant back bulb at the Adelaide royal show in September 2004 and this one flowered for the first time in 2006 (which is when I took this photo). About three weeks ago I noticed that it had a flower spike on it, and I am hoping that I will see my first open flower next weekend.

They have probably always been a bit too shaded, but it is hard to know what to do with them when the summers are so harsh here. They ARE planted in commercial orchid bark, but I have been completely slack and have NEVER fertilised them beyond what ever was in the orchid mix. I find it significant that the only one of mine which is getting flowers is the one which is the least shaded of the four. They get mostly morning sun until about 11 am at present and then are in shade for the rest of the day.

I've seen them growing in all sorts of conditions in other people's gardens - some of the biggest clumps I ever saw were at a friends place in the Adelaide Hills many years ago - they were in the ground! under deciduous trees and would have had more than 100 bulbs per clump. I assume the soil underneath them was heavily amended to avoid root-rot but I suspect the acidity of the leaf litter, combined with the winter chill factor, and extra light before the trees leafed out in spring would combine to make near perfect habitat. My advice to you sunset, for what it is worth, would be to try three things. Firstly get them out of the scoria and into a pine bark based orchid compost. I know you have tried it before, but I suspect the Ph of their current mix is nowhere near acid enough. Orchid growers use pine bark for two reasons, firstly because the individual pieces hold water while still letting air into the roots, and secondly because the pine bark constantly releases acidity into the soil water as it degrades. This is why the soil in pine forests is always acidic and why many plants won't grow under pine trees.

Secondly, see if you can get them to slow down on vegetative growth, and preferably come to a complete halt in the colder months. - even if it means not watering them at all from May to August. (Even in the middle of summer NOTHING in my garden gets watered more than once a week, even vegies!)

Finally, see if you can get them into enough sunlight to change the leaf colour to a lighter, yellowish green, without causing any leaf burn. It may be too late for flowers this year but give it one more year and see how you go. Kaelkitty

PS: I found this article http://www.geocities.com/pennypoint9/culture.html extremely interesting, especially the bit about the 11C temperature drop! If all else fails, give your neighbour some bulbs and see what he can do with them LOL! (OR maybe you'll just have to get an "old leanto shed" of your own) ! Best of Luck!

Thumbnail by Kaelkitty
Coffs Harbour, Australia

I went to my holiday watering job today and took a couple of pics of the buds and if they bloom over the next week or so, I will post a pic for you Sunset, so that you and I can share some cymbidium orchid flowers together, as the tragic orchid growers that we are! Knowing my luck, they won't flower untill the job is over, and I'll have to make an excuse to go and visit them! LOL

Thumbnail by weed_woman
Sydney, Australia

See in your picture how the leaves look a bit yellow....that is how they are really supposed to look....the yellowing is because they got enough sun.We treat them like princess's and we should treat them like Cinderella! .......:)

Coffs Harbour, Australia

Hi Chrissy, you up late too. I'm actually a bit mean with my cymbidiums, hardly ever fertilised, outside the eastern side of the shade house with morning sun, hacked back to nothing at one time, but I think mine are suffering from some sort of fungal/bacterial disease and maybe dont have energy to put towards flowering. My Dad in Nz used to put the pots under the trees and ignore and they always flowered. I tried that too, but lost about 4 plants, I think its too dry in Aus to do that without the occasional watering. Anyway, I do have some other types of orchids, I think a rock orchid is one, and it has many little purple/white buds appearing. Another one I got had buds, but overnite something ate them, possibly a possum. I'm glad someone enjoyed them!

Thumbnail by weed_woman
Sydney, Australia

Aint it always the way!....how you going getting everything ready for the sale I loved that trolley I bet everyone wants to buy it...great for display!...yes the kiddies seem to adore the succulents...that is how I came by mine ...for my grandsons...but now they are bigger they have lost interest so I am now a new succulent owner and fan..
it will take me a few hundred years to catch you though.Sweet dreams! chrissy :)

Merino, Australia

Thanks for all the excellent advice from all of you. My husband calls the cymbidiums, weeds. If I get them out again to do something with them he will really laugh. Maybe I'll give them this season then tackle them again and repot. . A friend said her mother always had beautiful flowers on hers and every Christmas she would pour lots of ice over all of them. Apparently it gave them the chill at the right time. There is so much info out there on orchids . My son bought me a beautiful book on orchids for my birthday a few months ago. It is from the ABC 's Gardening Australia books called Flora's Orchids. I think I should leave it out in the shadehouse for the orchids to read.
Enough on the orchids.
I am going outside to brave the cold and rain as I have been given some new hellebores and want to plant them near my white one. I have more dahlias too but they can wait a while. Have a great day all.

Sydney, Australia

I have the hellebores too the mauve pinky plummy ones....hybrids ...just coming into flower now :) happy me! happy day all! (given a pot of mini yellow orchids yesterday but we won't talk about it =0

Coffs Harbour, Australia

Well, I dragged my orchids out for a look and took some pics of them and their ailments, but I'm so embarrassed that I'm not going to post them and infact am going to turf them out! I might get myself some cheapo ones when the flowers are finished and throw them under a tree and see what happens! Or not!

Sydney, Australia

They will probably love it! ha ha ha!

Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

Oh God, weed_woman, don't throw them out - give them to someone! I'd take them myself if it wasn't for the fact that they'd probably cost a fortune to ship to me. I did a bad thing this week - spent a quarter of the fortnightly food budget ($25) on another Cymb! I saw it last week at one of the flower stalls in the middle of Rundle Mall but couldn't carry it at the time and besides it really was too expensive at $25 for its size, but oh, the colour. I passed it again on the way to Woolworths on Friday - still there; came back half an hour later going the other way and it was STILL there, so I gave in and stuck it on my credit card. Does any one have a phone number for Plantaholics Anonymous? I obviously need help! LOL! Here's a picture I took of it on the shop counter this morning to give you an idea, but even this doesn't do true justice to the absolutely electric pistachio green colour. Kaelkitty, off to do some work to pay for the orchid, LOL!

Edited to fix a typo and add the name: Cymbidium (Minature) Gentle Touch 'Bon Bon'


This message was edited Aug 11, 2007 1:58 PM

Thumbnail by Kaelkitty
Sydney, Australia

Oh Ladies Please!......ha ha ha!.I confess these yellow ones given to me are delightful!.creamy buttery yellow with a white lip....oh darn...now I am going to love them.
we gardeners are a weird mob....now look KK those highlighter/fluero greens are always the touchy ones....but not talking about it.....lol :)

Coffs Harbour, Australia

these are the sad orchids that I am very ashamed of!

Thumbnail by weed_woman
Coffs Harbour, Australia

A close up of the leaf. If anyone has any organic remedies for what ever is wrong with this, feel free to help me fix em.

Thumbnail by weed_woman
Merino, Australia

Hello again all. Weed_woman, your orchid leaves look a bit like a couple of mine. Most of mine have lots of leaves but a couple seem to only have sparse growth. The leaf color looks healthy according to the experts who say they should be a nice light green. The problem with the leaf in your other pic is similar to some of mine also. I was told to spray with white oil but the leaves are still the same. If anyone can help , I'll be glad to know too. Stop gloating about your orchids, kaelkitty and chrissy. I'm sure that weed_woman and I, have some plant that you can't grow. I too , look at buying more orchids when I see the lovely flowers but am very good and resist the urge as I know the poor things will live without flowers for ever after if I do buy any. If my orchids ever flower there is going to be the biggest photo put out. I may even make a large poster size pic and frame it for posterity.

Sydney, Australia

I am not boasting about the orchids.....honest.....sulky little b*#%ers
but as we said before you fall for their exotic charms and ....sucked in again!......I bet your hellebores are wonderful.....now there is a plant you shove in and forget..... except for the odd haircut and a handful of chook pellets or blood and bone... and there you go ....every year just like clockwork .....now I bet some poor people out there would love to have them grow for them....this year I have some pretty pink ones ....must have self seeded.
KK one of my rellys (dear Italian lady) has given me something she called "Dancing Bones".....new to all things succulent I was admiring this weird plant that looked a bit sort of spooky.....and lucky me she had a plant that she had "started" and gave it to me....I am really excited because she has a garden full of strange and wonderful succulents and cactus (never really looked at them before with a collecter's eye).....I will be going over real soon to take some cuttings.....She has some things that have been growing in the pots for 30 years and they are truly stunning....so I will be taking a camera with me.:) Getting back to the Dancing Bones...I looked it up in my garden bible and it looks like a Rhipsalis.....lots of long stork things with little shorter stork things hanging off the ends.....probably as common as mud ...but I like it....hers was spectacular! hanging down from a basket ....about 3/4 ft long trails of thin green...straight stork things..... I like it a lot :) it is a bit confusing do you know if it is a cactus or a succulent?
About the orchids.....sigh ...we all want something that we can't have ......My dream would be lilly of the vally....tried everything even ice water.....see what I mean?

Thumbnail by chrissy100
Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

OK I've had a look at both pics weed_woman, and here's my two cents worth. The top one, I would dig up, divide into two down the middle, and replant into two pots of fresh orchid mix. After about a month, I would start to feed them with a weak foliar feed every two weeks until about May. Then I'd try to find somewhere cool to keep them through winter. From August onwards I'd start to feed them again, preferably with something with a low nitrogen / high phosphorus & potassium ratio until the end of November, when I'd switch to something with the opposite formula to encourage new shoots to make more bulbs for the following year.

I'm inclined to follow the same plan with the leafless plant as well, only I'd try dividing it into 3 - it looks to me like you've got a lot of back bulbs there, and they are only good for producing new bulbs from - once they get to that point they will never flower again, you need big fat bulbs with lots of leaves for flowers.

As regards the markings on the leaves, I think you have two choices, it is either the result of old insect damage - aphid, thrip or red spider mite being most likely, in which case it will be confined to the older leaves and will grow out and go away with time and new plant growth; or, you have as you suggested, picked up some sort of virus or fungus or bacterial infection - if so it actually looks fairly minor to me, and I wouldn't get too het up, unless it starts showing up on the newest leaves and spreads more rapidly. Even if it is some sort of disease, plants are like people in that respect - they are exposed to diseases all the time, usually with little or no visible affects, especially if the plant is healthy in itself.

Your plants look hungry to me, I'd guess it has been a while since they were repotted, and it wouldn't surprise me if the roots were going off. I'm ashamed to admit it but i have killed my fair share of cymbidiums by leaving them in the same pot for years on end, not realising that the potting mix had compacted as it had gotten older, and the roots had died for lack of air.until the whole thing just fell out of the pot for lack of attachment! When I purchased my orchids at the Royal Show in 2005 they recommended repotting them once every three years to make sure the mix stayed porous. Cymbidium roots are strange things, they are not like normal plant roots. Unlike most plants they don't make fine feeder roots at all. Instead they have large roots with a thick spongy layer on the outside which absorbs both gases and liquids. This is why orchid mixtures are so coarse - the roots have to be able to breathe.

This makes sense if you live up a tree in the humid tropics, the spongy root surface can actually pull moisture out of the air and any water which runs down the bark of the tree the orchid lives in
will collect soluble nutrients from dust, animal droppings, rotting leaf litter, you name it and the spongy orchid roots will suck this up as it passes over the roots. Thus what you end up with is a plant that needs greater aeration than most and a requirement that all it's nutrition comes in a soluble form to begin with. Regular plants with feeder roots on the other hand, are capable of using chemistry to transform solid nutrient containing substances into liquid solutions which the plants can then suck up out of the soil.

Best of luck with your plants, KK.

Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

Yo Chrissy,
If it is a Rhipsalis, it's a Cactus! Remember this: "All Cacti are Succulents, but not all Succulents are Cacti" See, Clear as MUD! LOL! "Dancing Bones" huh, that's a new one on me - common names give me a headache! The relation's garden sounds like great fun - really old plants are always worth looking at, both to see what they can do over time, and because older gardens tend to hold interesting plants that have gone out of fashion so you get to see plants which are no longer common in cultivation. We await pictures with glee, KK.

Edited for spelling

This message was edited Aug 20, 2007 9:55 AM

Coffs Harbour, Australia

wish I could learn not to navigate away from this page before I send my post, because when you come back, its all gone!
I too have a Dancing bones cactus Chrissy. (Glad you're back by the way, it was too quiet). Mine is about to flower, I can't wait. It gets little bright yellow daisy-like flowers. Really pretty! I started it from a relatively large cutting and it grew in no time to a good size. I have it in a hanging basket too. Is it raining your way. Lots of lovely rain here and I cant go to work. awwwwww!

Coffs Harbour, Australia

found a pic taken back in June. I thought I had flowers coming then too, but it turns out it was new leaf growth.

Thumbnail by weed_woman
Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

Yep that's it, Hatiora or Rhipsalis salicornioides, I'm not quite sure which genera is most accepted nowadays. We used to call it "Indian clubs" but I guess that non-PC nowadays, LOL. Here's a link to the Plantflies entry http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/55382/ Gotta go, I've got a doctor's appointment to get to, KK.

Sydney, Australia

KK hope that Doc's appointment is not for illness.....Gee WW that dancing bones of yours is great....but mine is all skinny without the bottle or club shapes that yours has....the sticks are uniform.width all the way to the endes and it drapes down like a cutain of bizzare green sticks....easy to see it is related but not the same.....I think that looks like the one called the drunk's fantasy or
dream....something like that....thanks for letting me see yours ....will show you mine soon.......:)

Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

Don't worry Chrissy, I am a bit of a permanent creaking gate. I had a bad car accident when I was 17, wound up on the invalid pension at the age of 22, and I'm diabetic to boot. Sometimes I think I spend half my life in doctor's waiting rooms! I'm lucky in a lot of ways to be able to do as much as I can. I "work", if it can be called that, part time, but don't earn much so the pension is my life line for the basics rent, food, etc. which is why I have to try not to spend too much on the garden, but you can do a lot with a very little in the garden I find. Speaking of which, I will be away from the computer for the next day or so, to get some gardening done, and I'll check in when I get back, TTFN, KK.

Coffs Harbour, Australia

Thanks for the advice on the orchids KK. I did repot them in the last 5 years into commercial orchid mix and thats when the trouble started I reckon. But I may try your suggestions, and if I can stick with it I'll try the fertilising too.
Hey Chrissy, I can send you some of my Drunkards dream if you like (not rooted) let me know by D mail if you'd like a piece

Coffs Harbour, Australia

Hi Sunset, heres a pic of a little baby of mine.
Sue

Thumbnail by weed_woman
Sydney, Australia

Kk I sent you a reply that somehow did not go through re the visit to the doc ...is everything ok? I hope it all went well.....love your baby orchid....it is so cute!
WW I think that mine is a drunk's dream after all ...I think it must have been starving or something because when I potted it up....after a few days the little ends stared to fatten up ....look ....
(oh I forgot the twisted willow cuttings...sorry do you still want some?)

Thumbnail by chrissy100
Sydney, Australia

Sorry that pic was awful (still on P's)...here is a bunch of the branches behind a didgereedoo...my wall is a nice warm sand colour ...not that awful colour.

Thumbnail by chrissy100
Coffs Harbour, Australia

Hi Chrissy, dont worry about the willows. Save them for another package another time maybe. Your "Drunkards dream " is maybe a dream for a drinker of cans! It could be to do with the ammount of light it recieves, less=longer bottles, more=short, fat bottles. You're coming along nicely with your picture taking. Do you have a symbol of a flower on the menu? It is good for taking close ups of plants, bugs e.t.c.
This is a pic of a lovely little orchid my neighbour gave me, called Ludisa discolour. The leaves are usually a bit darker burgundy with very prominent white stripes, but I think it has had a bit too much to drink with all the rain. It's now inside flowering its head off. Another baby of mine.
Sue

Thumbnail by weed_woman
Coffs Harbour, Australia

heres another little picture taken 2 minutes ago.
Sue

Thumbnail by weed_woman
Sydney, Australia

Well yes she had it in a dark place before I bought it home.....is it normal for succulents to grow so big so quickly/ mine are about a third bigger in just a few days? I did water them in with a little seasol is that okay?.....the ones you sent me are all happy :) tomorrow I will go scrounge under the clivias...for any fruit that dropped....you asked about the clivias....those seeds were given to me by my daughter in laws boss who owns a nursery....he took them from "Dutch hybrids" they have the rounded leaf ends and the flowers just erupt into a cannonball of flowers....the intense hybrid coloured ones flowered after about 4/5 years.....I picked some up at Taronga Park Zoo that took 12 years to flower but it may have been too much shade because they are not under something that drops it's leaves in Winter ...the yellow /cream one was given to me last year and it looks like another 2 years (I will count the leaves tomorrow) before it will flower...that is exciting.If I find any lost fruit under the leaves I will put them with the twisted willow thingys and get them off to you.....the Dutch ones are just lovely ....I notice that now mine are mature the rounded ends do not seem so rounded any more.

Sydney, Australia

That is lovely!

Coffs Harbour, Australia

I have the rounded leaf ones also, given to me by a little old man in Penrith about 6 years ago. They have an intense orange flower and yes, very round flower head and the seeds start easily.
I'm signing off now, but I'll be back tomorrow evening.
Goodnite Chrissy.
Sue

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.
BACK TO TOP