How to divide cymbidium orchids

Check out all you need to know about growing stunning cymbidium orchids in this Grow Guide.

Published: Friday, 21 August, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Plant does flower in January

Plant does flower in February

Plant does flower in March

Plant does flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does flower in October

Plant does flower in November

Plant does flower in December

Do not Cut back in January

Do not Cut back in February

Do not Cut back in March

Do not Cut back in April

Do Cut back in May

Do not Cut back in June

Do not Cut back in July

Do not Cut back in August

Do not Cut back in September

Do not Cut back in October

Do not Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

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Cymbidium orchids are some of the easiest and most reliable houseplants to grow and make great gifts.

They bear pretty flowers in a range of colours, over a long period of time, and are guaranteed to bring a touch of the exotic to any interior. They’re also the oldest orchids in cultivation and there are around 50 species and thousands of cultivars to choose from.

Take a look at our handy cymbidium Grow Guide, below

Cymbidium orchids are some of the easiest and most reliable houseplants to grow and make great gifts.

Where to plant cymbidiums

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Cymbidiums, like most orchids, don’t like direct sunlight. A good spot is near a west or north-facing window, but never on top of a radiator where they’ll dry out.

How to plant cymbidiums

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Use a light, free-draining, open compost containing pumice and bark for cymbidiums. In this clip from Gardeners’ World, Monty Don gets expert advice from the RHS on how to re-pot a cymbidium orchid:

Caring for cymbidiums

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Water once every week, with rainwater if possible, or boiled and cooled water. Don’t let plants dry out, but equally don’t let them sit in water. Feed every few weeks with an orchid feed through the growing season.

Cymbidiums prefer cooler growing conditions between 10-14°C in winter and under 30°C in summer. They also need lower temperatures to trigger flowering, so in the summer, keep them in a cool conservatory, or a sheltered spot outdoors, and away from direct sunlight, until early autumn.

Watch our video where Monty Don gets advice from an RHS expert on repotting a cymbidium orchid.

Propagating cymbidiums

How to divide cymbidium orchids

If the plants look like they’ve outgrown their pot, you can divide them, using a sterile knife to cut the rhizome. Divisions should have three bulbs each. Plant these up into pots filled with damp orchid compost. Don’t water for at least three weeks, using a spray just to stop the plant from completely drying out.

When roots start to form you can resume normal watering.

Growing cymbidiums: problem-solving

How to divide cymbidium orchids

As houseplants, cymbidium orchids are relatively trouble-free, as long as they’re kept in the right location and the watering regime is adhered to.

How Orchids Reproduce: A Guide to Propagating Your Orchid Plant

Learn how orchids reproduce in the wild and how you can successfully propagate your orchid indoors.

When you’ve mastered orchid care and you want to add another orchid to your home garden, you have two options. You can either take a trip to your local nursery and buy another orchid plant, or you can propagate the orchid you already have.

Propagating some houseplants is super simple. With a spider plant or a Christmas cactus, you can multiply your plant in just a few minutes. All it takes is one small snip to remove a plantlet from the mother and a jar of water to encourage the new clipping to grow its own roots.

But propagating an epiphytic plant, like an orchid, is a bit more involved. And once you’ve successfully propagated your orchid, you can consider yourself a true orchid grower pro.

There are countless reasons to propagate your own orchid. It’s cost-effective since you don’t have to buy a whole new plant, it’s challenging so you can add to your gardener skill set, and it’s fun since it’s a job you can do with your family or friends. When you’re done, you’ll be incredibly proud of your new little plant. It’ll naturally brighten up your home or it’ll make a thoughtful gift.

Below, we’ll take a look at how orchids grow, how orchids reproduce in the wild, and how you can propagate your plant at home to grow your own collection.

How do orchids grow in the wild?

In terms of growth, orchids come in two varieties. Some orchid species are monopodial, while others are sympodial. Let’s take a look at the difference; this will come in handy when you propagate your own orchid at home.

Monopodial orchids

The term “monopodial” means single foot. Monopodial orchids have a primary stem, leaves, and flowers that grow up from a single ball of roots. Monopodial orchids do not contain water reservoirs (known as pseudobulbs), and they usually bend into the classic orchid arch when they’re in bloom since the weight of full flowers causes the stem to droop.

Phalaenopsis, vanda, and Angraecum are popular examples of monopodial orchids.

Sympodial orchids

Rather than grow from one vertical stem, sympodial orchids grow from a rhizome, a stem that is more or less horizontal. From the rhizome, the orchid grows both roots and pseudobulbs. Sympodial orchids can draw water from their pseudobulbs in drought conditions, so they don’t have to be watered as frequently as monopodial orchids.

Cattleya, oncidium, dendrobium, and cymbidium are popular examples of sympodial orchids.

How do orchids reproduce in the wild?

In their natural habitats, both monopodial and sympodial orchids reproduce just like other plants: they’re pollinated by insects and they naturally disperse seeds.


Undoubtedly, orchid blooms are ornate and fascinating; but an orchid’s flowers aren’t simply decorative. In fact, they serve a very specialized purpose.

In the wild, orchids have a unique relationship with bees, moths, and other insects. Typically, orchids develop their intricate blooms in the shape of the insect they hope to attract. When an insect mistakes the orchid for a mate, it visits the flower, picks up the orchid’s pollen, and flies away when it realizes it was mistaken. One insect can visit hundreds of plants per day, inadvertently pollinating orchids while it flies from flower to flower.

Dispersing seeds

Like other plants, orchids disperse their seeds so they can grow prolifically without getting too crowded in one place. Orchids have very small, light-weight seeds, which makes them ideal for traveling in the wind or attaching to animals who carry them to other areas. When the small seeds find a favorable growing medium, they sprout roots.

Seed dispersal is integral to keeping the species alive since too many plants growing in one place would easily lead to nutrient deficiencies in the ecosystem and in the orchids themselves.

How can I propagate my orchid at home?

Learning how orchids reproduce in the wild provides good foundational knowledge for propagating your orchids at home, though the process is a bit different.

Since you likely don’t want to spend time pollinating your orchids by hand, and you probably don’t want to wait for your orchid to disperse its own seeds, you can propagate your orchid in one of three main ways: by dividing it along its rhizome, cutting a stem and replanting it, or repotting a baby plantlet that has sprouted at the base of your orchid.

Let’s dive deeper and cover these propagation techniques in more detail.


If you’re hoping to propagate a sympodial orchid, it’s easiest to divide the plant along its rhizome. For best results, sever the rhizome while the plant is still in its pot so you don’t disturb the roots. When new growth is established, the plants can be separated into two distinct pots.

Stem cuttings

Both monopodial and sympodial orchids lend themselves to stem cutting. Canes and flower stems can be cut with a pair of sterile, sharp shears and placed in a pot of sphagnum moss or orchid potting mix to callus over and grow new plantlets. Once you’ve cut the stem and placed the cutting in moss, wrap the pot in a transparent plastic bag and place it in a warm spot with bright light. In three to four months, your cutting may show new growth, especially from nodes along the stem.

Keiki cuttings

Phalaenopsis and other monopodial orchids tend to produce small plantlets, called keikis. Plantlets will often appear at the base of the mother plant. When the new plantlet has a one-inch root and two or three leaves, it can be severed from its mother plant and be repotted. When you repot the keiki, keep its roots near the surface so they’ll have plenty of access to air to encourage strong growth.

Essential tools for propagating your orchid

Whether you choose to propagate your orchid by division, stem cuttings, or keiki cuttings, you’ll need the help of some trusty orchid-growing tools.

For best results, have these tools and accessories ready before you propagate:

  • A new orchid pot
  • A well-draining orchid growing mix
  • A pair of sharp shears to make clean cuts
  • A plant fungicide to apply to cuttings and discourage disease
  • A root supplement to encourage new, healthy roots
  • Premium Orchid Food to nourish your new plant once it’s repotted

We’re here to support you as you grow your orchids, both old and new. Join our Facebook group for further support or drop a question in the comments below. We look forward to helping you propagate your orchid plants and watching them bloom for years to come.

Here’s our step by step guide on how to repot your Cymbidium Orchids:

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Cymbidiums like to have a pot full of roots.

How to divide cymbidium orchids

. only repot them if the pot splits because of this, or if the pot is clearly overcrowded with shoots hanging over the edge of the pot. Repotting should be carried out during Spring (after flowering) and there are many decorative pots to choose from.

How to divide cymbidium orchids

If you repot at other times of the year you may damage the new emerging flowering buds (shown on the left hand side of the photo) and leaves (shown on the right hand side).
Repotting your Cymbidium is also a good chance to make sure your orchid has healthy roots and leaves. Remove the plant from the pot and carefully remove the compost around the roots.
Inspect the roots, cut away any damaged ones. If the mass of roots is too dense and tight you may care to cut through them.

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Remove leafless pseudobulbs (the pseudobulb is a thickening at the base of the stem. Each bulb will develop between one and twelve leaves and a flower bud.).

How to divide cymbidium orchids

. and remove pseudobulbs with yellow leaves.

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Discard pseudobulbs with no visible healthy roots.

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Only repot into a larger pot if necessary. If you don’t have a pot large enough for all of your pseudobulbs, divide them into more than one pot, placing at least five pseudobulbs per pot.
Whichever pot you use, make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the pot.

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Use a moisture retaining, firm orchid compost. When topping up with compost the base of the pseudobulb should be at or just above the compost level.

How to divide cymbidium orchids

When you have finished repotting, water well with an orchid fertilizer that will boost your blooms.

If you found this Cymbidium Orchids Repotting Guide useful, please click the “Like” button below, and leave us a comment in the box. Thank you!

Recommended Reading #1

Available for immediate download. Discover how to avoid mouldy roots, bud and leaf drop, and how to deal with bugs and pests at Orchid Care Expert – A Practical Guide to Orchid Care.

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Recommended Reading #2

Available for immediate download. Discover how to maintain healthy roots and leaves, and create longer lasting blooms at Orchid Care Revealed.

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Recommended Reading #3

Available for immediate download. Find out about the correct lighting, temperature, and watering regime for your orchids at Orchid Secrets Revealed.

How to divide cymbidium orchids

Recommended Reading #4

Available for immediate download. Discover successful orchid fertilizer recipes by John Perez.