Although moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) must account for 80% of all orchid sales these days, there are other orchids available and Cambria orchids make up most of these in summer. Moth orchids are popular because they are warm-growing orchids that tolerate rather dark and centrally heated rooms (note the use of ‘tolerate’) but Cambria orchids prefer cooler conditions – down to 10c at night in winter and up to 20c or so during the day in summer. This preference for cool winter conditions makes them suitable for conservatories as long as they are heated in winter and not in full sun so the plants bake in summer. They like good light and, unlike the moth orchids, they form ‘psuedobulbs’ at ground level, about one per year on each growth axis and from these, linear leaves and one flower spike will grow.
Like cymbidiums, they prefer a high nitrogen feed from spring to mid summer and then a high potash feed till autumn. They are pretty tough but if they dry out or the atmosphere is too dry the leaves get ‘stuck’ as they grow and develop a concertina pattern. This is unsightly and a reminder of your lack of care (for a year or so till they drop off) but will not harm the plants. This happens to pansy orchids (miltoniopsis) too.
Despite the small name, these are complicated plants in as far as the name covers a huge range of plants that have little in common visually. The hybrid began its life in 1911 with Charles Vuylesteke. He crossed Odontoglossum crispum with a Miltonia and Cochlioda noetzliana. You can see that there are several genera involved already! The hybrid was names Vuylestekeara.
A decade later this was crossed with another Odontoglossum and the hybrid was named Vuylestekeara Cambria ‘Plush’. Nowadays it is impossible to say what a Cambria orchid looks like because they are so varied. But most have small or medium sized flowers in yellow, purple, orange, red and white with six to ten flowers per stem – but there are exceptions and some have a little scent.
They generally flower in summer but flowering can be at almost any time. These two are not necessarily representative but are two I have at home flowering now.