This genus is distributed in tropical and subtropical Asia (such as North-India, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Borneo) and North-Australia, usually growing in cooler climates at high elevation.
Cymbidium plants are sympodial and grow to a height of 60 cm and the racemes as high as 90 cm. The raceme grows from the base of the most recent pseudobulb. Each flower can have a diameter of 5 to 10 cm, according to the species. They bloom during the winter, and each plant can have up to fifteen or more flowers. The fantastic range of colors for this genus include white, green, yellowish-green, cream, yellow, brown, pink, and red.
The flowers last about ten weeks. They have a waxy texture. The rounded sepals and petals have about the same dimensions. They show very diverse color patterns, different for every species. Roughly eight long, green, narrow leaves originate from the sheath of each pseudobulb.
Cymbidiums became popular in Europe during the Victorian era. One feature that makes the plant so popular is the fact that it can survive during cold temperatures (as low as 7˚ C or 45˚ F). Orchid hobbyists in temperate climates appreciate the fact that they can bloom in winter, when few other orchids are blooming.
They have been cultivated for thousands of years, especially in China. Asian Cymbidiums or Chinese Cymbidiums refer to mainly six species of cymbidiums orchids that are found throughout East Asia in areas of China, Korea, Japan, India, and in parts of Thailand and Vietnam. These species are usually grown for their variegated leaves. But plants are also grown for their fragrant flowers and peloric flower structure. Plants are usually grown in long and thin vase like pots. The six species are from the section Jensoa
Miniature Cymbidium hybridization started in 1903 with the registration of Cymbidium Lowgrinum (Cym. tigrinum x Cym. lowianum).
Species are less common in cultivation. Most hybrids can be grown in cool to intermediate temperatures. Plants prefer dry outs between watering and a well drain mix. Water about once a week. Plant can be potted in soil or coarse bark. Plants are usually grown in medium amounts of sunlight. Plants with thick hard leaves should be grown in warm temperatures.
Commercially cut flower cymbidiums are grown wet, watered many times a day with weak fertiliser. Basically hydroponic to waste.
Cymbidiums are susceptible to the Tobacco mosaic virus and Cymbidium mosaic potexvirus. These viruses causes the leaves to have discoloration patches. Infected plants can be distinguished from variegation by its opacity. Infected plants should be isolated or tossed out from collections. To prevent contamination of the viruses sterilize tools when cutting leaves or dividing plants with a torch or alcohol.
It was first described by Olof Swartz in 1799. The name is derived from the Greek word kumbos, meaning 'hole, cavity'. It refers to the form of the base of the lip. Cymbidiums are usually called Boat Orchid because of the shape of the lip.