Cymbidium Staking

Cymbidiums come in 4 different styles as shown in the pictures below. Growers need to become familiar with their plants so they know the habit of the particular spike and can treat each plants appropriately. The notes below refer mainly to upright spikes. The techniques may be used on decorative and arching style cymbidiums but only on the lower part of the spike.
  Upright Arching   Decorative Pendulous  

This first example shows a Cymbidium which has a new spike showing. It had started off more horizontal than vertical and has had a label put in front of it to help it to grow more vertical.


The spike has now progressed beyond the assistance of a label so a piece of light elastic has been used.  A loop is tied at one end and then slipped over the spike. The other end is wrapped around the stake several times and is held with a clothes peg so that there is always some tension between the spike and the stake. This is then adjusted every few days by tightening the elastic until the spike is pulled up close enough to be tied to the stake.
When tying to the stake higher up the spike where it may still be elongating a figure of eight should be used with the twisty tie so it can be moved up as the spike elongates and  is not too tight around the spike.
Several weeks have passed and the buds are now showing. At this stage the top section will grow straight on some cymbidiums but needs to be encouraged on others. This is achieved with the use of elastic tied in a slip knot around the spike and stretched up to a clothes peg higher up on the stake. Tension is maintained by wrapping the elastic around the peg if necessary and by sliding the peg up the stake every few days.  The slip knot is also moved upwards once a week or so as the distance between buds increases. In the picture shown it is time to put a tie on where the elastic is looped and move the loop up 2-3 buds.

This picture shows the use of a yoyo to keep the spike upright and help to space the flowers. Yoyos must be attached somewhere above the orchid to the roof for example and the tension must be adjusted by looping or unlooping some of the loops from the yoyo.  Too much tension can pull the top off the spike.
In the picture shown it is time to move the plastic hook up to just under the top 4 buds, or possibly under the top 2 to try to spread out the buds. Some growers suggest that a dose of high nitrogen fertilizer at this stage can help to elongate the stem particularly if there is some tension applied. (Take care not to apply too much.)

The extreme case.
The 3 pictures below show what can be done if the spike is discovered late and has headed off in the wrong direction. The lower part of the spike has also hardened to some extent making it difficult to bend.

The same technique as above can be tried to try to correct the situation.  In this case a fibreglass stake has been used so the stake can be easily turned every few days to wind the elastic on an extra turn or two.  This makes it easier to maintain the tension and over a period of a month or so the spike has been pulled up to a satisfactory position.  The first picture shows the spike as found. The lower part of the spike had already started to harden.

The second picture shows the spike under tension with several turns of elastic on the stake. Care must be taken in this case not to tie the elastic too far up the spike. If it tied to the softer section of the spike the top half will bend and possibly snap. In the case shown, the spike  was still soft about 1cm (half inch) above the point where the elastic is tied.
The third pic shows the final result after another month or so of tension.  Not straight, but quite acceptable.

Note.   Great care must be taken in extreme cases as the result can easily be a broken spike. Do not try to pull the spike up too much when attaching the elastic for the first time or when tightening the elastic.  The constant tension will slowly have the desired effect in most cases as the spike continues to grow.


How can I tell what style a cymbidium will be and whether or not to stake it?
There are 2 simple answers to this question. 
1. If it is a named cymbidium then a more experienced grower may be able to give some advice.
2. If it is a seedling then you may have to let it do its own thing the first year and take note of its natural spike habit.
If the spike comes out fairly horizontal and seems fairly flexible you could allow it to hang over the edge of the pot and down.  You may need to sit the pot up on another inverted pot or on the edge of the bench to allow space. Weights can be hung on the spike to encourage it downwards but this is not normally necessary with a naturally pendant spike.
Otherwise, you can treat the spike as an upright spike and encourage it upwards.  If it is naturally decorative you will find that it will be difficult to keep it growing upright beyond the lowest flower and once this is obvious it should be allowed to turn and grow downwards.
As regards the upright or arching spikes, they can both be allowed free above the lowest flower to naturally arch or grow upright by themselves unless you particularly want them upright. Keep an eye on the arching or weaker spikes however as they can sometimes 'follow the sun' and twist and turn all over the place. If this is noticed it is probably better to grow the spike as an upright and tie it regularly up the stake.


Notes and pictures by  
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