Orchid Wise

Culling Plants

Culling Plants & Improving the Quality of your Collection

To be a successful Cymbidium orchid grower, and to maintain a productive and competitive collection, one needs to regularly review the health and performance of the collection.  There are always the heroes and then there are always the non-performers.  So culling plants is the quickest way to ensure you have a productive and competitive collection of Cymbidium orchids.

Every growing house is different.  You might try to emulate the conditions of a successful grower, but there are so many variables you might just not be able to achieve what they do, in your conditions.  It is often the case where a particular plant might love it in your growing conditions, but sulk and not perform in another environment.  

Maybe you have a plant in your collection that seems to be prone to rot?  With a bulb going brown, soft and dying off every now and then.

Regularly review the performance of all plants in your conditions. 

Keep good records and check your records continually.  Be prepared to discard a non-performer as all you will have is a green leafy plant that never flowers, and you will be frustrated year after year.

And then there is the ever present concern about virus.

Culling Plants Prone to Rot
Culling Plants Prone to Rot
Be ruthless in culling plants if you wish to succeed at high level

Talk to other experienced and reliable growers about all your plants.  Their experience can be a valuable insight into how to maintain a successful collection.  They might have a suggestion about a particular plant to help it perform.  They might also tell you that it does not perform for them.
Cull the plant if that is the decision and discard it quickly, most likely to the wheelie bin.  Don’t try to give it to another grower, or sell it.  It doesn’t deserve to be in cultivation, and if it is virused, it must be destroyed.

Just a thought though, which might muddy the waters a little……  

If a plant just wont grow, you might just have an inferior clone, or a runt of the litter as it were!  Even though mericlones of the same variety should be identical, there are some improved and inferior individuals in any population.  Usually those percentages are small, but they do occur, particularly if the tissue in the tissue culture process has been multiplied too many times, or if tissue has been pirated.  If a plant seems to do well for many other growers, but not for you, discard your non-performer, and perhaps try to obtain a piece of the same variety from a source you know has a good growing form.


The other very important thing about growing and protecting your collection is inspecting your plants regularly and testing them for virus.  Virus is your collections worst enemy.  And a well grown plant may very well show no sign of virus for a long time.  If unchecked, virus will eventually affect and ultimately kill your plant.  It will also spread to other plants in your collection rendering them unsellable, and also prevent you from entering competitions.  Culling plants with virus is essential, lest other peoples plants be infected too.

Test kits are available on the market for you to test your plants, and if you find one, discard it immediately.  There is no cure for an orchid virus, so plants must be destroyed.

Our very extensive article on Cymbidium viruses supplied by Joshua White from the Cymbidium Orchid Society of Victoria is a must read, and we implore every grower, enthusiast and even beginner to thoroughly read this article.  Being vigilant so that virus doesn’t spread will protect us all, so that we can continue to grow awesome orchids!

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