Shirley Bovshow's Tips on How to Divide and Repot Cymbidiums

Shirley Bovshow shows how to bring new life to Cymbidium orchids with the right care.

Cymbidiums are terrestrial orchids (grow in the earth); they develop long spikes with many flowers. They have grass-like leaves as opposed to paddle leaves on moth orchids. Over time, many dead (or back bulbs) remain in pot and pull energy from the new and good bulbs. The plant needs to be extracted from the pot and divided to create new plants. Remove old dead bulbs and potting material, dead roots, and trim roots back.

Keep bulbs in groups of 3 or more. If you have only 1 or 2 it may take longer to bloom.

Always sterilize your tools when working with these plants. They can become infected.

  • Remove plant from pot
  • Shake and pull out old potting material
  • Loosen roots and trim back. Cut away empty dead roots
  • Grasp and pull or cut apart groups of 3 or more bulbs
  • Pull or cut away dead back bulbs
  • Be careful to protect new growth bulbs
  • Once completely separated and cleaned up, put potting material in pot
  • Curl roots into pot rotating plant or pot
  • Fill in potting mixture keeping bulbs above soil
  • Tamp down to create firm bed
  • Water every two weeks
  • Fertilize with appropriate mix for dormant season then switch during blooming season.
  • Keep plants in indirect sunlight and in warm (but not hot) room during the day moving to cool room (but not freezing) at night.

Get gardening tips and more from Shirley at

How to Start a Garden
How to Start a Garden