Cycnoches Culture

Cycnoches (sik-NO-keys) is an epiphytic genus of sympodial orchids that are usually found in warm, moist, open canopy tropical trees. The altitude can range up to 1500 meters depending on the latitude of the location. Pseudobulbs are spindle-shaped with multiple nodes and three to seven pairs of thin, veined leaves. The pendulous inflorescences arise from the upper nodes of the pseudobulb.

Cycnodes Jumbo Puff 'Hubbubah'AM/AOS
(Cycnodes warscewiczii x Mormodes badia). Photo Credit: ©Greg Allikas,

Cycnoches, like orchids of its sister genus Catasetum, are unique among orchids in that they bear separate male and female flowers with the occasional appearance of intermediate, hermaphroditic forms. The column structure is the surest method of determining the sex of flowers. The male column is long, curved, and thin. It bears the pollinia prominently at the tip. The female column is relatively short and bearing curved hook-like structures on each side of the tip. The stigma of the female column is found inside the tip of the column. There are two different forms of male flowers among the cycnoches.

Cycnodes Jumbo Erebus 'Nicola' AM/AOS
Cycnoches warscewiczii x Mormodes Jumbo Volcano). Photo Credit: ©Greg Allikas,

One group, the section Cycnoches, bears male and female flowers that closely resemble each other except for the column structure. The section Heteranthae bears male flowers that are radically different from the female flowers. The female flowers of section Heteranthae resemble the female flowers of section Cycnoches except that they are normally smaller. The male flowers of section Heteranthae are small with a disk-shaped lip that has from 5 to 14 projections or “fingers” on it.  Cycnoches are very fragrant with a generally complex chemical structure that distinguishes the species to their pollinators among the Euglossine bees. Like the other members of the Catasetinae, cycnoches can produce new growths from almost any of the nodes of the pseudobulb. Cycnoches are seasonal growers. The new growths are produced and rapidly develop to maturity in about six months when they produce their flowers. After flowering, the leaves are frequently dropped and a dry rest period follows before new growth starts again.

Cycnoches Swan Cascade 'Daniela' AM/AOS
Cycnoches cooperi x Cycnoches Jean E. Monnier). Photo Credit: ©Greg Allikas,

The genus name comes from two Greek words that mean swan and neck. The type species is C. loddigesii described in 1832 by John Lindley. In addition to this species, other popular species areCycnoches chlorochilon, C. haagii, C. pentadactylon, C. barthiorum.

Number of species: Currently 8 in section Cycnoches, 25-28 in section Heteranthae with one subspecies. The World Monocot Checklist currently contains 39 accepted names (July 2009)

Distribution: Tropical America from southern Mexico to southern Brazil and Bolivia.

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Temperature: Warm
Light: Bright open shade with very good air movement.
Water-Humidity: During the period the plants are in growth, maintain even moisture and high humidity. Once the plants have flowered, water should be reduced or stopped until new growth develops enough to produce new roots. Spider mites are the main enemy of Cycnoches and are brought on by hot, dry conditions which is why it is vital to maintain good moisture and good air movement while the plants are in growth.
Fertilizer: Balanced or high nitrogen fertilizer while the plants are in growth. I believe it is not possible to overfertilize Cycnoches while they are in growth. I mix a teaspoon of Nutricote in my media when potting, top dress with black cow or well rotted animal mature plus applying a half-strength liquid fertilizer at least every-other watering. As the plants mature, I change to something like 5-50-17 or other bloom-booster. No fertilizer is given when the plants are dormant.
Potting: Sphagnum moss in clay pots; medium-fine fir bark in clay or plastic pots; mounted with sphagnum at the roots. Hanging the pots or mounts is best because this presents the best air movement around the plants. Remember that mounted plants will require more frequent watering – two or more times per day in the hottest season.
References: 1.  Carr 1995 Cycnoches, 165 years of Confusion.Privately published to be found on the Florida North Central Judging Center  2.  Carr 2000 The Cycnoches ventricosum Complex, Orchid Digest, vol. 64 (1) pp. 29-38
Author: George Carr

Excerpt Reprinted from

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