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This is a discussion on What to do about cymbidium questions.... within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I'm glad you had success and that there was a lot of very useful advice ...
I'm glad you had success and that there was a lot of very useful advice offered. I've been growing cyms for over 40 years. Perhaps I can offer a few simple thoughts for the future.
1. Repot or Up pot depends on the condition and size of the plant. If healthy and small enough simply up pot. When is usually one of two times. When the pot breaks ( a sure sign to deal with it) or when the bulbs grow over the side or there are dead ones all in the middle. Otherwise Cyms like to be crowded to bloom
2. When there are lots of dead looking back bulbs, you need to repot by dividing the plant .. or the plant is just too large to handle. I remove the pot, take a reciprocating saw, or big serrated knife, and cut off the bottom half of the roots. Then remove all the dead roots in the center mass. Divide the plant keeping at least 3 bulbs as a division. Two dead and one living or three living or two live and one dead. It doesn't matter. Remove the seeming dead ones and save them. Cut away all dead roots and repot the divisions. For a 3-5 gallon pot you should get 3-4 divisions and about 8 back bulbs. Remove the dead matter from the back bulbs and dry out for a week or so. Then plant them 2 or so to a quart ziplock, filled one third with pre wetted bark thats drained. Seal the ziploc. In about a month to three you should have sprouts you can plant.
Best time to divide is Jan to June, and just after it has bloomed. Too late and you will skip a year of blooms.
I figure from a plant you get about 10 plants every 3-4 years. so in 6-8 years you have 100.. fun!!!
If you are just up potting you can just keep the roots in tact and it can be done any time of year without affecting the bloom cycle.
Remember though Cyms like to be crowded and will send up more spikes when they are crowded as long as the roots are healthy
Thank you, sir - I always welcome advice and have had a lot- mostly solicited - of it with regard to my cym - and it certainly weighed heavily on the final result. I'm assuming from your post that you read the advice I'd been given, as well as seen the before, during and after photos. The cym predilection for crowding weighed most heavily as I went through the decision-making process, as did the advice I was given - particularly by folks like yourself who have years of experience with these creatures. Geoff Hands was spectacularly patient and helpful, reviewing photos, and offering his experience, and I ultimately decided to repot based on his evaluation, and on the in-person evaluation of a professor here in Atlanta, David Glass, who is in charge of our Orchid Society's fledgling mentoring program. I am finding that orchid lovers are extraordinary people!
As I was in possession of a magnificent exhibition plant, I followed Hippocrates's stricture to "first do no harm." It seemed, however, that there was a possibility that the three new growths, which were already smushed behind the mature fans, along with the fact that there already was not a nano-speck of space left in the pot, were somewhat threatened with over-over-crowding. We focussed on getting the pot up just one size (6" to 8") and positioning the new growths in the center, where there was a little space for them to spread out (emphasis on "little). The three enormous mature fans are smushed along the sides of the new pot, and the three new growths are growing like crazy in their new spot - by most gardeners' standards, this plant is still really pot-crowded, and I think I made it within the June deadline, so things look good so far.
I think my cym must be relatively young, because it consists simply of the three large fans, along with the 3 new growths - no backbulbs - yet. It may well have been divided last year - one of the most frustrating things about it is that the exhibition had no id's or other information on these cyms. Since the Atlanta Botanical Gardens Orchid Center is one of the world's biggest, I find it hard to believe that this cym has no pedigree, but so far, no info has come my way, and I don't know enough about parent traits to hazard a guess. If you have any theories, I'd love to hear them, and I can send photos showing the blooms better if that would help.
The thought of getting more plants out of dividing this one (maybe next year) is fun indeed! Right now, it's thriving, growing like gangbusters, and, come the cooler night temps in October, will go outside to see if it will please set some spikes. By the way, your description of how you divide your cyms closely follows what my experience repotting was like. I did have to use a saw to get into the roots, and remove the dead ones. I also had to fuss about with the bulbs and new growths because they essentially had to be reversed in the new pot - that made me nervous!
New plants from old backbulbs sounds like good stuff - hopefully, I'll get to that point some day. In the meantime, this cym has received more attention, encouragement, and tlc than any other member of my household - people included! So, we're now in the wait-and-see period, and I'm learning about species and enjoying it tremendously. I'm severely limited by apartment living, a small terrace, no greenhouse, and the Atlanta summer climate, but it makes everything more of a challenge and forces me to go after creative resources.
Thanks again for your time and interest - I keep a journal of all the advice I receive and know my small collection benefits from it.