The orchid genus Catasetum is represented by epiphytes. It unites approximately 150 plant species. They can be found in nature in South and Central America. Most often, such plants are found in Brazil.
This plant has a sympodial growth pattern. It has a shortened rhizome (creeping shoot), while it is tightly pressed to the ground, which is why young pseudobulbs grow almost close to the old ones. Clustered elongated oval pseudobulbs are similar to wrinkled green cigars that have pointed ends. In species that are large enough, mature pseudobulbs reach a height of 20 centimeters and a diameter of 7 centimeters. Young pseudobulbs, which are not yet 1 year old, are leafy, and adults are completely naked. There are many vaginal leaflets, usually from 3 to 7 pairs. The part located at the bottom of the sheet plate is film, and it acts as a wrapper. So, after the leaf dies and dries, this tissue remains on the surface of the pseudobulb, and it does not allow the accumulated moisture to evaporate too quickly. Thin leathery leaves have a pointed-oval shape with a distinct longitudinal venation. In length, they reach from 20 to 30 centimeters.
This genus of orchids stands out from the rest in that it has a pronounced sexual dimorphism of flowers. The flowers, which are male, are larger (diameter from 10 to 12 centimeters), they are complex and painted in rich color, there are much more of them on the peduncle. The female flowers are not as large and have a relatively simple appearance. A large number of species have resupinated male flowers (turned upside down), and a large lip, folded into a funnel or shaped like a bent bowl, hangs over the flower. Fleshy petals (petals) and sepals (sepals) are oval or lanceolate. The elongated column has several stamens. All female flowers are “correct”, their lip looks like a helmet, while the column is not as long and thin as that of the male flower.
Caring for a Catasetum orchid at home
Most species of such orchids are recommended to be grown in an orchidarium or in a greenhouse. And there are also species that are not able to grow indoors at all, falling into an environment that is unusual for themselves, they die very quickly.
Such a plant needs a warm temperature regime, while it is imperative to provide a difference in daily temperatures. So, the catasetum will normally grow and develop at a daytime temperature of 29-32 degrees, and at night – 21-24 degrees.
If desired, this flower can be moved to the street. There he can stay from mid-May to mid-September. A garden or balcony is perfect for this. In this case, the necessary difference in daily temperatures will be natural.
A flower throughout the year needs bright lighting, but at the same time it must be diffused. Experienced flower growers recommend placing such an orchid under powerful phytolamps, thus replacing natural lighting with artificial. Light day should have a duration of 10 hours.
Plants with leafy pseudobulbs, as well as those with blooming flowers, when kept outdoors, should be placed in places protected from direct sunlight. The fact is that burns can appear on flowers, as well as on delicate foliage. However, it should be noted that placing the catasetum in a place that is too shaded is not recommended.
Blocks and pots are used for growing. To fill the pot, a substrate is used, consisting of pieces of coarse pine bark, a small amount of sphagnum and charcoal.
A large piece of pine bark is most often used as a block. On its surface, the roots and rhizome of the plant are securely fixed, while they are pre-wrapped with a not very thick layer of moss.
How to water
It is worth remembering that between watering the bark must necessarily dry thoroughly. This flower is recommended to be watered not in the usual way, but by immersing a block or pot in a basin filled with water. You should wait until the bark and root system are saturated with liquid, and then remove the flower from the water. When excess liquid drains, the catasetum should be returned to its usual place.
In order to stimulate flowering, experienced orchidists are advised to give the plant a “hot shower” along with watering, or to immerse the flower completely under water, which should be preheated to 35 degrees.
Such a plant reacts extremely negatively to low humidity. The optimum humidity for this flower is 70-80 percent. In order to increase the humidity to the required level, you need to use household humidifiers or steam generators. If the catasetum is grown in an orchidarium, then it should be remembered that stagnant damp air can cause fungal diseases. In this regard, for the purpose of prevention, systematic ventilation is recommended.
The dormant period for this orchid begins in mid-November. The fact is that at this time in the places where she comes from, a cool and dry period begins. The air temperature during this period should be from 18 to 20 degrees, while watering should be completely stopped, but the illumination should be left at the same level. If the pseudobulbs shrink very much, then to maintain them in a healthy state, the substrate should be systematically sprayed, but only lightly. Fully watering begins after young pseudobulbs appear, as well as the first roots.
If you abandon the dormant period, then the plant will bloom very poorly, and after a while, flowering may stop altogether.
Transplantation is carried out 1 time per year. The fact is that during the dormant period, some roots die off at the catasetum, which not only pollute the substrate, but also cause the appearance of various fungi and bacteria. It is necessary to transplant at the beginning of the growing season, at a time when new roots are intensively growing in young pseudobulbs.
Feed 1 time per week. To do this, use a special complex fertilizer for orchids, while the dosage should be looked at on the package. Fertilizer is usually dissolved in water for moistening from a sprayer or watering.
During the dormant period, the flower is not fertilized.
When grown indoors, Catasetum can be propagated by dividing its rhizome, which should be overgrown, into parts. It should be remembered that each division must have at least 3 mature pseudobulbs.
In industrial conditions, this plant is propagated by seeds and meristem.
Pests and diseases
Spider mites often settle on young leaves. If such a pest is found, the flower should be given a warm (about 45 degrees) shower, while the leaves should be thoroughly washed. If there is such a need, then the procedure must be repeated.
In the event that the Catasetum is not provided with optimal conditions, it may stop flowering, the growth of new pseudobulbs, and in some cases, it even dies.