Class is in session

How to divide cymbidium orchidsAt the end of the April meeting, after Bob’s presentation, Joyce mentioned to me that she had a rather large cymbidium at her house that she needed to move. Or she needed to re-pot? I wasn’t quite sure exactly which at the time, but of course I said I would help in any way I could, as she only lives a few short houses away.

Although I must admit, at first it did strike me as a bit odd that someone would need help moving an orchid … and so I assumed I probably misunderstood. Maybe she needed help moving a large pot?

Anyway, I ran into Joyce the next week at the grotto, and we made plans to meet at her house the following morning. I arrived with Chanda and Sawyer and coffee in hand late the next morning, Janet and Ronald came out to greet us and led us along her front sidewalk to the two monster cymbidiums. My questions were answered immediately. The mutant cymbidiums were planted in what appeared to be 12” or 16” or 24” plastic planters. Hard to tell, because the simple yet durable black plastic had swelled and was bursting inside with a massive ball of roots. Ron and I hoisted the first of the cymbidiums onto a carpet mover, then rolled it down the sidewalk and into the garage, which was completely cleared on one side to make way for the orchid repotting.

How to divide cymbidiumsWe went back and got the other one, towed it back to the garage. Betty arrived (she lives next door) with a rather large cymbidium of her own. We brought it back into the shade of the garage, as the day was growing hotter by the minute.

The garage looked noticeably less empty than it had moments earlier. Ronald brought out a reciprocating saw similar to the one Bob had at our April meeting, and I knew we were in for some serious business. It too was equipped with a special pruning blade, which appeared to be a necessity for a task such as this.

Dividing up the large cymbidiumsWe heaved the first cymbidium up on a pair of 4x4s on the floor of the garage and laid the giant orchid sideways like we were taught in class. The plastic wrapping was removed after some tugging, and a few specks of wood chips popped out.  Then we cut off the bottom half of the root ball with the saw, and set the remainder of the orchid back upright…quickly transforming the open garage space into a jungle. The four of us held back the long and healthy green leaves to try and find a dividing line. There were so many bulbs (and geckos and chameleons) on this cymbidium, it was so full, at first the line wasn’t quite clear. But once we did pull back and part the leaves, dividing lines did eventually present themselves. So we divided it once, then divided those again, leaving us with four large chunks of cymbidiums.

Ronald and I use a reciporicating saw to cut off the bottom half of the cymbidium rootsOne down. Sweat was dripping off my forehead. We set the first cymbidium(s) aside and repeated the process on the next one, which was equally as big. I would have never imagined splitting an orchid would be so much work. And it is a good thing they were so prepared …

By the time we came to splitting Betty’s cymbidium we had it down to a fine art. A glance around Joyce’s garage, there were orchids everywhere. I was afraid to put Sawyer down for fear of losing him…

In the end, the cymbidiums had all been divided and split up … because, well, something had to be done. And we were left with enough pieces of cymbidiums to start our own nursery. Several chunks went  home with us (now our largest orchid). One thing was perfectly clear. Bob was right. If you’re going to grow cymbidiums, you’re going to need a lot of friends.

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