Posts Tagged ‘Cycnoches’

One of the great advantages of attending orchid conferences is learning new and promising growing techniques from experts like Chuck Hanson of Ecuagenera. He raises his Gongora plants in 3/8 inch pumice stone. Among other things, his technique insures that the media is appropriate to the species’ need for a dry season. 

Hanson keeps his Gongora plants dry during the winter and starts watering (lightly) in March,  increasing the amount as the spring/summer progresses.  

I don’t know if this method would work with other members of the Stanhopea subtribe, but it might be worth experimenting. I’ll start by repotting my Gongora tricolor, which is presently languishing in a sphagnum moss and bark mix.

Right now I raise my Cycnoches in aquarium gravel, but think that I’ll switch a couple of them over to the pumice. The gravel has worked fine so far but maybe the pumice could achieve even better results. There’s always something new to learn and try!


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Nine new blooms appear on the “Photos” page…eight from the greenhouse and one from a friend, Mark Prout.

The greenhouse Pleurothallis ornata (formerly shiedei) is one of the oldest Pleurothallid Alliance plants still in my collection. Often in spring the plant is covered with the thin-as-hair inflorescences and the tiny, spotted flowers. 

A long branching inflorescence of Phal. stuartiana blooms is shown. These are the first blooms on the young plant.

Paphina Majestic is a workhorse. It has rarely been out of bloom since I bought it about two years ago. Last summer it had as many as eight pendent inflorescences. The trick, I think, is maintaining a moist medium.

My Ludisia discolor sits on a pedestal in the coolest part of the greenhouse — next to the door. In the photo’s background, note the louvered window that is covered on the outside with a sheet of ice. The green towel, seen in the lower left corner of the photo, protects the plant from blasts of frigid air when the door opens.

The Mexipedium xerophyticum oaxaca CBR/AOS bloom is a wonderful, diminutive slipper orchid. In a few months, I’ll repot this plant and will post a video with more information about its culture.

This Cyc. JEM Black Dragon is a troubled plant. Its first inflorescence rotted, and most of its leaves turned yellow and dropped off. I thought the entire plant was a goner. But a few weeks ago, I noticed the nub of another inflorescence. Although the leaf loss subsided, the nub only produced one blossom…shown in the photo.

Catasetum ochraceum is my Star Trek orchid. It’s weird and other-worldly. The thick walls of the cup-shaped blooms never open more than the photo reveals. If you back light the bloom and peer inside the greenish cup, you’ll see a lovely brown and yellow striped interior.

Cattleya Forbador is a reliable bloomer with interesting coloring: yellow petals/sepals, often splattered in purple, with a striped and tubular purple lip.

Mark Prout sent a photo of one his December blooms, the gorgeous Lyc. Eightysixth Kiss, also included on the “Photos” page.

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Five new blooms from this week are posted to the Photos page. One of the blooms is a Cycnoches (Cyc. pentadactylon ‘Galaxy 4N’), one of my favorite orchid genera.

A challenging genus, Cycnoches orchids need a definite rest period, during which the leafless bulb should be watered sparingly. Some Cycnoches growers, who pot their plants in a bark and moss mix, either withhold water entirely during the rest period or remove the plant from the pot and leave the naked bulb alone until new growth appears.

I do neither. I pot my Cycnoches in rocks (small aquatic rocks in small clay pots) and water weekly during the rest period – with no fertilizing and in the driest corner of the greenhouse.

I do this because the first Cycnoches I purchased five years ago at the Missouri Botanical Garden was potted in rocks.  (I still have the plant, a wonderful Cyc. Jean E. Monnier, which was grown by Marilyn LeDoux and had been pulled for judging at the show.)  

Growing Cycnoches in rocks offers a couple of advantages. First, the quick-drying medium reduces the potential for overwatering the plant during its rest period. Second, the heavy medium helps stabilize the top-heavy plant during its blooming period.

Watering a rock-bound Cycnoches? During the rest period, I flush the pot weekly, never fertilize and keep the plant in a light and dry (far from any mister) corner of the greenhouse. When I see about two inches of new growth, I start a weekly, weakly fertilizing regime. Once the new growth reaches four to five inches, I water and fertilize frequently — two, three or more times a week.

Of the nine Cycnoches I’ve purchased during the last five years, I’ve lost two. That’s not bad odds, but even so, my method of growing Cycnoches won’t work in all environments. Certainly, it’s a method to consider if you are trying to raise Cycnoches in high-humidity locations. As with any orchid purchase, however, the first and most important objective is to start with a strong, healthy plant.

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Blooms a-plenty in the greenhouse this weekend.

Diminutive in size, the Acampe papillosa has a powerfully sweet scent. A recent purchase, this miniature vandaceous orchid was blooming when I bought it.

Sophrocattleya “Crystella Smith” is a vigorous little plant and a reliable bloomer – blooming several times a year.

I bought Brassia Rex for $5 on the scratch-n-dent table shortly after I joined the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City. It’s a giant plant, with one or two bloom cycles a year. At least one of those bloom cycles produces from 3 to 6 spikes.

Cyc. ‘Wine Delight’ Cyc.’‘JEM’ FCC/AOS is one of the largest cycnoches in my collection. This year and last it has produced two inflorescences, thickly covered in dark red flowers, which fill the greenhouse with their sweet scent.

Pleurothalis platystamas is a small plant with an annual explosion of inflorescenses and tiny lemon-colored flowers. It was a gift from an OSGKC friend, who is an expert pleurothallid grower.

Laelia rubescens is a delicate little catt. The early flower is the palest of lavenders, fading into white as the blossom ages.

Laeliocattleya Everett Dirksen is one of the big catts – a reliable and fragrant bloomer.

Mediacalcar decoratum is a trailing plant with tiny, trumpet-shaped blooms. It’s not an easy bloomer for me. While it generally flowers once a year, it doesn’t bloom profusely. Its succulent leaves spread like a vine, and it prefers a cooler, shadier environment than most of my orchids.

Nothing quite stops traffic like the scent of Oncidium Sharry Baby. Some people describe it as a chocolate smell; others believe it smells like a cake fresh from the oven. When grown as a specimen plant, this easily flowered plant can be quite large.

My Cattleya Chocolate Drop NOK is a division from the Missouri Botanical Gardens. I first saw this wonderful plant at the entryway to the MBG spring show. Its huge spray of blood-red petals and sepals glistened in the multi-flashes of visitors’ cameras.

Cyc. cholorochilon ‘Jumbo’ x Cycd. Jumbo Mickey is a big plant with bright yellow blooms. Even with its two inflorescenses, this cycnoches isn’t as floriferous – or as fragrant – as Cyc. Wine Delight.

Phrag. Ecua-Bess (Ecuadorence ‘Birchwood’ HCC/AOS x Besseae ‘Whippoorwill’) is a great plant. I struggle with the slipper orchids, but this one is a reliable bloomer, providing reccurring blossoms from the same inflorescense for several weeks – sometimes for several months.

Bc Maikai ‘Louise’ was a gift from an orchid friend. It was a division from her specimen plant, which I received about four months ago! Note the spots are as prominent on the back of the plant as on the front.

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Of my 32 Top Favorite orchids, these 11 earn four out five points (See the Nov. 3 post for the ranking criteria). (Again note the ones with an asterisk *. In a few days, I’ll do a special post about these.): 

  • Brassia Rex (reliable and profuse bloomer, knockout bloom, and durable plant)
  • Cirropetalum Elizabeth Ann ‘Jean’* (reliable and profuse bloomer, knockout bloom, and durable plant)
  • Cycnoches Jean E. Monnier* (reliable and profuse bloomer, knockout bloom, and durable plant)
  • Maxillaria tenuifolia* (reliable and profuse bloomer, fabulous scent, and durable plant)
  • Makara Salaya Red (reliable and profuse bloomer, knockout bloom, and durable plant)
  • Mexipedium xerophyticum ‘Oaxaca’ CBR/AOS* (reliable and profuse bloomer, knockout bloom, and durable plant) [This knockout blossom is diminutive.]
  • Onc. Sharry Baby* (reliable and profuse bloomer, fabulous scent, and durable plant)
  • Paphinia Majestic (reliable and profuse bloomer, knockout bloom, and durable plant)
  • Psychopsis Mendenhall* (reliable and profuse bloomer, knockout bloom, and durable plant)

    3 blooms on Psychopsis Mendenhall

  • Slc. George Hausermann ‘Carl’* (reliable bloomer, knockout bloom, mildly scented and durable plant)
  • Vanda sensei blue* (reliable and profuse bloomer, knockout bloom, and durable plant)

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