Cymbidium finlaysonianum blooming in our backyard

Cymbidium finlaysonianum blooming

This orchid is one of the most common orchid species that i have encountered in the Philippines ( both cultivated and wild)  after Dendrobium crumenatum ( dove orchid ),  Dendrobium anosmum ( sanggumay ) and Spathoglottis plicata ( grass orchid ) .

Cymbidium finlaysonianum grown on a Christmas palm  ( the flowers is darker but not in full form )

BIG Event or Viewing Party

I have seen some blooming -sized orchid planted in pots at the backyard of my aunt when i was in my kindergarten days. I think she bought some of her orchids from  ambulant vendors way back in the late 1980’s and it was some sort of a ” BIG Event” in her house whenever these orchids were in bloom. Her orchid plants were place near the patio area and it was a conversational piece . She would invite friends and relatives just to admire the rare blooms. This would rival another blooming plant, Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Queen of the Night, Queen for a Night, Dutchman Pipe ) whenever the plants were in bloom.


They would held a small gathering at around 10:00PM and their viewing parties would last until past 12:00AM which would highlight the blooming .

Cymbidium finlaysonianum grown on a tree near Orchid Pavilion in Paradizoo

 This time,  the viewing party is different ,  They would view this orchid species blooming during the early part of the day around past 6:00am to 7:00am . Unlike the Epiphyllum oxypetalum ,  I was fascinated by the way they treat those blooming plants .   Years had passed , I can tell that the beauty of the plants no matter how ordinary they may be should be appreciated .

Cymbidium finlaysonianum near Orchid Pavilion -Paradizoo farm in Cavite

We acquired our first Cymbidium finlaysonianum from an orchid vendor selling her last few remaining plants at a discounted price. Soon we were given orchids by our neighbor , who grew tired of growing them.  According to her, it is taking much of the space at her backyard and thus gave some of them to those who were interested .  All of my aunt’s orchids eventually died -out in the late 1990’s due to prolonged drought and neglect .

Cymbidium finlaysonianum attached to a Christmas palm Adonidia merrillii

Habitat and Range

This orchid species can be found from India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia , Laos , Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore , Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, Sumatra and the Philippines in evergreen broad-leaf and in semi-deciduous and deciduous dry lowland forests at elevations from sea-level to 1,300 meters as a large sized hot to warm growing epiphyte with ellipsoid, laterally compressed pseudo-bulbs carrying ligulate, thick, coriaceous, oblique to unequally bilobed apically leaves that blooms in during March , April , May and early June on a 2′ 5″ [72 cm] long, basal, racemose scape that can be arched or pendant with up to 26, fragrant flowers that have brown basal sheaths.

close-up view of the flowers

The species was named after a famous English  orchid collector Mr. George Finlayson (1790 – 1823) .

Watering and Fertilization:

I normally mount Cymbidium finlaysonianum on the trunk of palms , large branches or on dead kakawate driftwood. If the orchid is well-established, We fertilize them with 20 N-20 P-20K  ( diluted into 1/4 of the recommended dosage)  during its growing season , two to three times a week . plus micro nutrients. Alternatively flushing them with ordinary tap water to flush down the accumulated salts or mineral deposits left by the fertilizers.

developing inflorescence

There is no rule on watering and fertilization, You can water them once a day or twice depending on the weather, Some may opt watering them every other day . Growers must put some fungicide before the the onset of rains ( monsoon season ) . Rains , especially southwest monsoon can take its toll on the orchids. When in doubt, you may not water your orchid ( for this species) even for several days ! Rule of Thumb  is “ WEAKLY WEEKLY “. The more frequent you fertilize, the lesser the dosage or the more you dilute the consistency of the fertilizer . ( some may opt to put some slow release fertilizer ).

This plant had two inflorescence with 18 and 16 flowers widely- spaced pale- yellow form

Our orchid blooms twice a year, during the height of the summer season ( March, April and May )  and another during the later part of the monsoon season ( October, November or December ) climatic stress will eventually make these wonderful orchids in bloom. A short dry period is necessary to induce them to bloom. We got around half a dozen specimen- sized of this orchid species in our garden, There used to be more than that.  We would also water them with rice washing ( hugas bigas)  and fish emulsion ( hugas isda ) adding more essential nutrients the more organic way.  What i am sharing is a time tested one, We are growing these orchid species for more than 20 years ! Sometimes, These orchid species is quite temperamental! I notice that our plants will never bloom for several years then all of a sudden , All of our orchids will start blooming . I also notice that the dried flowers and fruits of the Manila Palm/ Bunga de China also serves as a good compost for this orchid.

another Cymbidium finlaysonianum clump with ferns

Etho-Botanical and Economic Importance:

Cymbidium orchids and its hybrids were long sought after orchid  in the world. The Chinese were cultivating them long before Jesus Christ was born . Flower arranger and florist would use their large flowers for several occasions.

Some believe that growing them gives them good luck ( depending on the person or ethic group ) One ethnic group in the Philippines uses the leaves of the Cymbidium finlaysonianum as rope or accessories.

 In Borneo,  people keep plants of this species in their houses to ward off evil spirits. Also sprinkling chewed roots of this species over an elephant is thought to cure it.

Landscapers would also use the beautiful orchids to cling on old trees and palms in big subdivisions , farm , resorts and local parks.

I am also wondering on the other beliefs and other growing techniques ?



The Orchids of the Philippines , Jim Cootes 2001

Orchid of Malaysia and Singapore ,Gunnar Seidenfaden, Jeffrey J. Wood, Richard Eric Holttum ,  Olsen and Olsen 1992

Orchidiana Philipiniana Vol 1 Valmayor 1984; Orchidiana Philipiniana Vol 1 Valmayor 1984


3 Responses

  1. […] Cymbidium finalysonianum is one of the native orchid species which never disappoint us. This specimen clump had been with us for more than 25 years. This was bought by my mom in the mid- 1990’s from an ambulant vendor selling her last few stocks of orchids. […]

  2. […] Cymbidium finalysonianum is one of the native orchid species which never fail to disappoint us. This specimen clump had been with us for more than 25 years. This was bought by my mom in the mid- 1990’s from an ambulant vendor selling her last few stocks of orchids. […]

  3. […] slight fragrance especially during the first few days of its opening. This is the ordinary form of Cymbidium finlaysonianum grown in our backyard for about 30 years. While a smaller form is grown on another Manila Palm ( […]

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