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Growing Cymbidium Suave

David Allen and Noe & Rob Smith

cymbidium suave  Cymbidium suave one of the three unique Australian cymbidium species is possibly the most demanding for an orchid grower to maintain in culture. Some understanding of where and how Cym suave grows in the wild will help understand it’s particular requirements. Cymbidium suave is found growing on the east coast of Australia extending north from southern New South Wales at around latitude 35 to latitude 25 in Queensland, north of Brisbane.

The climate range is from moist temperate to moist sub tropical. Cymbidium suave grows in holes and fissures in eucalypt trees with its root system extending down into rotting heart wood of trees either living or dead. It can also be found growing in cavities in fallen trees, or even in eucalypt fence posts and stumps of felled trees.

The root system of established plants may extend down into the heart of trees for many metres and new plants will form from stolon growths along the root system where holes or fissures allow the plantlets to emerge. It is the very particular requirements in regard to its growing conditions which makes this species such a challenge for many growers. Hopefully, by providing the views and methods of several growers who successfully grow Cym suave others will be able to maintain this unique and beautiful species as well.

cymbidium suave

Most growers agree that the specific conditions necessary for the species to grow in nature need to be replicated as closely as possible in culture if the plants are to survive for any length of time. Unlike many cymbidium species and most hybrids, which only require a potting medium to provide a suitable degree of moisture retention and the addition of fertilizers etcetera to provide nutrients and an acceptable pH level, Cym. suave seems to have more specific requirements. Growing the plants in rotting eucalypt heart wood as found in nature is generally reported as producing better results than the use of a typical cymbidium medium.

With pH levels being recorded at between 4 and 4.5 in nature and in tests on this medium in culture, it may well be that pH is a critical factor in the successful maintenance of Cym suave. While the pH level of other forms of potting media could be adjusted to replicate those found in rotting eucalypt heart wood it may well be that Cym suave also obtains required nutrients from the process of decomposition and those nutrients, in a particular balance, as produced in the process, may be critical to the plants growth.

Many growers also believe that the conditions in nature provide a degree of insulation to the plants root system and a control of moisture levels necessary to the plants health. As a result many growers either grow Cym suave in lengths of eucalypt with rotting hearts, or find sections of suitable hollow logs and fill them with rotting heart wood and plant Cym suave in those. Other containers such as lengths of clay sewerage pipes have also been used with reports of good results when filled with rotting eucalypt heart wood.

Some growers believe that the extra depth provided by length of pipe, or logs provides the sort of root run Cym suave prefers. Larger, well established plants will also grow happily in the same medium when potted in large “normal” cymbidium pots, but not for very many years before needing to be repotted. As Cym suave resents being disturbed, most growers try to avoid re potting unless absolutely necessary.


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