Orchid Wise

Staking Cymbidium Orchid Flower Spikes

Do I, or Don’t I?

I’m often asked if I stake my Cymbidium Orchid flower spikes…..

I guess the short answer is no, it’s not absolutely necessary, I have a lot of Cyms that have very strong self-supporting flower spikes and rarely much need support. But I do have others that very much benefit from staking.

Hanging pendulous Cyms won’t need staking but make sure you keep watch on a spike heading for the edge of the pot to ensure it doesn’t bury itself in the pot and break.

Not all orchid spikes need stakes. HOWEVER, it is absolutely beneficial in so many ways if you do….

To display your flowers well, up above the foliage, staking is very useful.  Your spikes will stand upright, proud of the foliage and show their flowers to their best. A sideways growing spike is not very attractive, and won’t show off your flowers very well at all.

Other benefits are preventing accidentally breaking your spikes by brushing past them or if the pots fall over and roll around in the wind, or if the spike actually gets too heavy when in full bud/bloom.

You will be kicking yourself and crying about losing your once in a year flowering!

Firstly though, don’t try to stake your spike too early. Let it develop a bit first before you attach it to a stake. Leave it until it is at least 6 inches, but most won’t need it until well beyond that….even double.

Orchid spikes are continuously growing, so start using clips on the lower ends of the spike first to allow the spike to continue growing upwards, and clip from the lower levels upward, and keep a continual eye on the spike to ensure it doesn’t twist or break.

For straight spikes, a stake can be used to train your spike up and retain a nice straight line to get the spike up over the foilage.

For arching spikes, it helps to stake them to keep a nice arch to display your flowers, otherwise the spike will hang lower and lower as it develops and won’t look very nice, and possibly snap over the edge of the pot! When staking arching spikes, only tie the stake off at or near the bottom bud of the spike and let the spike do it’s own thing after that. There will be enough strength in the spike to hold itself up from there and your arching spike will look awesome!

I would advise against trying to bend a spike as they are extremely brittle, but if you need to bend a spike ever so slightly, put them in the sun for a while to warm up a bit, they are less likely to snap.  But be very very gentle with them. Clip them to straighten them in very small increments over a period of days or a week. Don’t attempt to bend them, and only tiny fractions at that, unless you absolutely must, but they will break very easily. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…..

Most garden centres will stock stakes made from various materials from plastic or metal to bamboo as well as clips. Yo-yo’s are also useful in training spikes to grow tall and straight. If you wish to, you can cut a stake to length to effectively hide it from view too.

Although stakes might not look great sometimes, they make a flower spike safe and straight and tall, to put on a show for all!

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