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CYMBIDIUM ensifolium

Image of Cymbidium ensifolium



Botanical Name

CYMBIDIUM ensifolium

Plant Common Name

Cymbidium Orchid, Sword-leaf Cymbidium

General Description

The compact and highly fragrant sword-leaf cymbidium was among the first grown and prized by Chinese gardeners and appeared in the record as early as 500 B.C. In its native Japan, China, Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka it can be found growing in humus rich soils along streamsides and waterfalls. Occasionally it grows on moist rocks alongside mosses and ferns.

This clump-forming orchid forms a cluster of small pseudobulbs from which rise three or four thin, sword-like leaves of light green. Actively growing when conditions are warm and wet, the pseudobulbs are ready to flower by summer or summer's end at which point plants produce short scapes with no more than eight fragrant, long-lasting flowers. Each bloom has three thin sepals and three small, oval petals, one of which is a tongue-like labellum (lip) with spots and come in a combination of ivory, pink and bronze with stripes and speckles of burgundy-pink.

Grow sword-leaf cymbidium orchid in dappled to nearly full shade and friable, humus-rich sandy soil. It adapts well to container culture as long as water can freely drain from the roots. Healthy leaves are yellow-green. If they become dark green, they need more light. Provide ample water with diluted fertilizer when plants are actively growing in spring and summer. After flowering, reduce watering slightly and expose to cool but comfortable growing temperatures.

Enjoy this small cymbidium as a tropical accent in a moist, shady border or grotto or indoor container specimen. Protect from hard freezes and do not overwater or exposed to overly warm nighttime temperatures from fall to spring. The flowers are magnificent when cut.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Width

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia, China, Japan

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type


  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Cutflower, Hanging Basket, Houseplant, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive