Indoor cambria – variegated star orchid care

While Phalaenopsis butterfly orchids are becoming more and more popular due to their extremely simple care, their bright and unusual competitors with slightly more complex requirements are undeservedly deprived of attention. Among orchids that adapt well to ordinary living rooms, subject to careful care, you cannot find plants brighter than cambria. Screaming speckled patterns, vibrant hues of luscious star flowers and straight leaves appear impressively catchy. The short dry dormant period in Cambria is usually straightforward, even for inexperienced growers.

Indoor cambria is a variegated star orchid. Farmer Stefano

Description of the plant

Cambria (x Cambria) it is more appropriate to consider it not as a separate variety of orchids, but rather as a trademark or commercial name of a whole group of varieties of interspecific hybrids obtained by crossing Miltonia, Oncidium, Odontoglosum, Brassia, etc. (x Odontoglossum x Cochlioda x Miltonia x Oncidium x Brassia). The popular name – an asterisk – the orchid received due to the characteristic arrangement of sepals.

The first cambrian orchid was obtained in 1991 under the name weilstekeara (Vuylstekeara), since then the debate about the classification has not subsided (many scientists have completely retrained Cambria in x Aliceara). Just checking the botanical name won’t work – Cumbria are sometimes sold without provenance or as a hybrid of oncidium and miltonia. It is necessary to recognize cambria externally (by leaves, pseudobulbs, flowers) and by their care requirements.

Cumbria are a group of vibrant hybrid orchids with spotted flowers and very bright colors. These are sympodial, rather large orchids up to 1,5 m high. Cumbria grow in “colonies” or in groups of at least 3 – 4 pseudobulbs. Pseudobulbs bloom only once, releasing new replacement shoots after flowering. “Children” are able to bloom even before reaching “adult” size.

Elongated oval, often flattened, somewhat reminiscent of a mango bone, changeable pseudobulbs up to 7 – 8 cm long and up to 5 cm wide are colored, like the leaves, in a rich green. Young shoots are smooth, as they grow, they often become wrinkled-ribbed. The roots are white, unevenly sinuous, numerous, forming a tangled mass. Each pseudobulb produces only 2-4 leaves at the top, rarely growing up to half a meter. Elongated-lingual, almost perfectly straight, unevenly curved leaves seem impressive, unusual, very bright.

The flower-bearing stems of cambria are very thin and tall, usually growing in pairs from one pseudobulb. Due to their height, the shoots are often unstable and require the installation of supports. In loose brushes, from 7 to more than 30 very large, up to 7 cm, star-shaped flowers, somewhat reminiscent of violets, are collected. Cambria has varieties with more graceful “lanceolate” shapes or rounded details.

The color scheme of cambrian offers to admire the most variegated combinations and patterns, the brightest shades of all orchids. Pinks, oranges, yellows, reds, cherry, browns and whites are mixed in multi-colored flowers with contrasting or watercolor effects. Usually their lip is always painted in 2-3 colors, and the petals flaunt with an interesting edge or border.

And all this splendor is just a background for contrasting lines and spots, in many varieties folding almost into tiger patterns that can cover the whole flower or just the lip. And in some varieties, wavy or ruffled edges make the flowers even more interesting. It is better to choose cambria according to your taste, looking closely at the details.

Among the cambria, there are even aromatic varieties, sometimes showing aromaticity only on the 3rd – 5th flowering. The timing of the flowering of cambria depends on the conditions of maintenance and care. This is usually an autumn-winter orchid, but cambria can bloom in both spring and summer. Flowering lasts up to 7 weeks.

Cambria (x Cambria)Cambria (x Cambria). Farmer Granville Stout

Growing conditions for indoor cambria

Cumbria are often “accused” of being difficult to find a place for. And it’s not just about the selection of lighting and temperature conditions. Cumbria are so bright and large that they do not always fit harmoniously into the interiors. When choosing a variety, it is imperative to take into account the color scheme and textiles in the room. This is the only guarantee that instead of a luxurious curiosity, you will not get a disappointingly flashy accent.

Read also our article on the 7 most fragrant orchids with a spicy scent.

Lighting and placement

Cumbrians prefer secluded lighting. It is better for them to take away a light, “safe”, soft partial shade, places where there is no risk of direct sun or lack of light. A distance of 1-2 m from the south window or a place similar to the north window is the best option. The duration of daylight hours during the period of active growth and flowering of the orchid should be at least 10, and ideally 12 hours.

In winter, additional lighting is needed for the flowering of cambria, it is because of the short daylight hours that the period of its flowering is most often shifted. After flowering, there is no need to adjust the lighting during the dormant period.

Temperature control and ventilation

The temperature for this species is not strictly controlled. During preparation for flowering, it is desirable, but not necessary, to keep cambria at 16-18 degrees (the acceptable minimum is 14 degrees). She does not need daily drops, the difference should not exceed 6 degrees. The rest of the time, Cambria are undemanding, but they do not tolerate strong heat very badly, which must be compensated for by ventilation, an increase in air humidity or the removal of plants to fresh air.

Cumbria can be placed outdoors in summer, but indoors it needs frequent ventilation. You need protection from drafts.

Cumbrians prefer secluded lightingCumbrians prefer secluded lighting

Home care for cambria

These are hardy and unpretentious hybrids specially created for living rooms. The basis for success in growing cambria is restraint in watering and attention.

Read also our article How to water an orchid at home?

Watering and air humidity

Cumbria are watered by immersing the pots in warm (2-4 ° C above room temperature) water for 10-20 minutes, allowing excess moisture to drain freely. Before the next watering, the substrate is dried almost completely. For this orchid, the frequency is sufficient once a week or a little less often even in summer, in the cool in winter – no more than 1 time in 1 weeks.

During the rest period (after the formation of new pseudobulbs to stimulate the growth of peduncles), watering is stopped for 2-3 weeks. During the growth of the peduncle, watering is carried out as standard, during flowering it is again slightly reduced.

Cumbria are resistant to dry air. Even at the stage of active growth, average indicators are sufficient (only at humidity below 40%, the leaves “accordion”). You can clean the orchid from dust by wiping and scenting.

Top dressing and pruning

Special fertilizers for orchids are applied regularly, but in reduced dosages. For Cambria, 1 “half” feeding in 2 weeks is enough. Usually, the orchid is fed according to the stages of development, using fertilizers only during periods of active growth (both pseudobulbs and aerial parts) and completely stopping feeding during periods of “fading” and flowering. Cumbria love both conventional and foliar feeding, which can be alternated.

All pruning is reduced to the removal of completely dried leaves and faded peduncles to short stumps.

Changing containers in cambria should be as rare as possible, when the orchid outgrowsChanging containers in cambria should be as rare as possible, when the orchid outgrows them. Farmer Ján Piatrik

Transplant, containers and substrate

You need to change containers as rarely as possible, when the orchid outgrows them, begins to bulge out of the pot (no more than 1 time in 2 years). This orchid loves being cramped. The time is chosen according to the growth phase: it is better to transplant cambria after the formation of new pseudobulbs, at the very beginning of their development, they have their own roots.

During transplantation, old dry pseudobulbs are removed, the plant is carefully examined, cutting off the roots with traces of rot. White roots must be handled with care, sprinkling and drying all cuts and injuries. Cumbria are planted superficially, leaving pseudobulbs above the substrate (the rule “all green on top” works great). If necessary, the orchid is fixed with a support. After the cambria transplant, it is impossible to water for 1 week, and feeding is not carried out for 3-4 weeks.

Only a special fine fraction for orchids is suitable for Cambria. You can plant the plant in clean bark with a little sphagnum and charcoal, but complex substrates are preferable. As well as “breathing” pots with holes in the walls. In transparent containers, the roots are well inspected, but they do not need access to light, it is, rather, a matter of convenience. The volume should be minimal, 2-3 cm larger than the previous pot and root ball.

This orchid is propagated very simply – by dividing large “seeds”. In each division, at least 3 pseudobulbs should remain, single cambria rarely survive.

Diseases, pests and growing problems

Cumbria are resistant, occasionally attacked by scale insects, thrips and felts, which need to be fought with insecticides.

When damp, orchids rot, lose their resistance to rust, anthracnose, powdery mildew. It is difficult to save infected cambria; emergency transplantation, pruning and repeated fungicide treatments are needed.

Violations of standard care, too frequent watering (especially during periods of flowering and the formation of new pseudobulbs), overfeeding lead to a lack of flowering. Too bright lighting turns into yellowing of the leaves, and hypothermia, heat, the proximity of batteries and constant underfilling – “accordions” on the leaves, their wilting and loss.

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Anna Evans

Author ✓ Farmer

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