Orchids in this genus are terrestrial plants having two separate origins. Hence, it is necessary that be given different care depending on the conditions prevailing in their original habitats. Nearly all the tropical types are completely deciduous and they flower from the exposed pseudo bulbs.
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On the other hand, the type that is indigenous to Japan is an evergreen plant and their pseudo bulbs are not visible. However, both types of Calanthe orchids may produce erect or arching inflorescences and bear numerous flowers. The tropical Calanthe orchids have been in cultivation since long and they were well-like house plants in England during the Victorian age.
However, their usefulness as house plants are somewhat limited these days owing to their size as well as the fact that they are completely without leaves when they are in bloom. Similarly, the Japanese calanthes have been a favourite of the people in that country for several centuries. However, so far these orchids are only promising novelties in other places.
You may grow Japanese calanthes outdoors, provided you give them proper care and only in places where the temperatures seldom drop below the freezing point. Calanthes that have tropical origin and are deciduous require warmth and bright light when their pseudo bulbs and foliage are in their growth stage.
However, when the leaves become mature, their color changes to yellow and they fall from the stems you should thoroughly dry them out. Subsequently, you should repot the orchids after getting rid of dead roots and withered pseudo bulbs. The bases of the healthy bulbs that remain should be set in a rich and highly organic potting mix.
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At the same time, increase the temperature and humidity level till the plants are in bloom in winter. Provide the plants with enough water and fertilizers to encourage the plants to bring into being large new growths. While growing in nature, the Japanese calanthes are basically woodland plants, which grow in rich soil containing leaf mould.
When in cultivation, these orchids are grown in lava rock and frequently provided with fertilizers. These calanthe orchids are capable of enduring a range of temperatures varying from cool to warm.
Calanthe discolor has its origin in Japan. These orchids produce two to four leaves, each measuring about 6 inches to 10 inches in length. The inflorescence of this Japanese orchid species grows up to a height of anything between 8 inches and 16 inches and each carries as many as 30 flowers.
The individual flowers measure about 2 inches across. The color of Calanthe discolor may vary from dark brown to purple, reddish orange, white, yellow or vivid green, while the lip may be white or pink with red or yellow veins. The flowers are fragrant and they appear in spring.
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Calanthe sieboldii is native to Japan and the color of the flowers of these orchid species are similar to those of Calanthe discolor. However, the inflorescence of these orchids is relatively smaller and grows up to a height of 2 feet, each carrying anything between 10 and 16 yellow green or yellow flowers. There are several Japanese species and also many named hybrids. Many of these are yet to reach North America.
Calanthe vestita has a tropical origin and the plants are deciduous. The pseudo bulbs of this type of calanthes grow up to a height of 8 inches to 9 inches, while the inflorescence is about 3 feet tall. The erect inflorescences are nodding and each carry about a dozen or even more flowers during the winter months.
The flowers are white, while the lip has touches of red or yellow. The flowers of Calanthe vestita last for a long time. The leaves of this orchid species are pleated and are about two feet in length. A variety of this orchid called "Baron Schroeder" bears pink flowers. A hybrid C. x Veitchii also bears pink blooms.
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Plants in the genus Catasetum are outstanding in two different ways. First, contrary to most orchids that produce male as well as female parts (making the plants "perfect" from the botanical point of view), Catasetum orchids may only produce male or only female flowers. More interestingly, the sex of the plants may also alter with plant stress.
Secondly, the male flowers of these orchids actually shoot their pollen grains on the visiting insects through a device that resembles a trigger. One of the pranks seasoned orchid fanciers play is to influence a novice to smell the flowers of catasetums. As the nose of the novice touches the trigger, it shoots out pollens forcible, but certainly not painfully.
Catasetum orchids have their origin in tropical America and usually these plants produce large and fleshy pseudo bulbs. Even the deciduous leaves are large and pleated. These orchids thrive well in temperatures ranging between intermediate and warm. However, the plants need to be protected from intense sunlight.
When the plants are in active growth mode, you need to water as well as feed them generously. However, hold back watering the plants when the deciduous leaves start falling off the plants. During this period, you need to provide the plants with enough water to ensure that the pseudo bulbs do not shrivel. You may start watering the plants again when they have new growth in spring. These plants are in bloom in fall and during the winter months.
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The inflorescence of this Catasetum species is arching and they carry fragrant flowers, whose color may be yellow or green. One selection is called "Pireo", which bears green flowers having profuse red spots.
Catasetum fimbriatum orchids produce drooping inflorescence that grows up to 3 feet in length and bears numerous fragrant flowers. The male flowers measure about 2 inches across and their color varies from yellow to green with maroon streaks and a red to pink suffusion. The female flowers of these orchids are yellowish green.
The inflorescences of Catasetum integerrimum produce arching inflorescences that grow up to 16 inches and each bears about 10 green to yellow, fragrant and hooded flowers. The flowers have scattered brownish red markings.
The inflorescences of Catasetum macrocarpum grow up to a foot in height and they may be erect or arching. Each inflorescence bears about 10 scented flowers. The waxy flowers are yellowish green having purplish red marks. The lip, on the other hand, has white markings.
The inflorescence of Catasetum pileatum is drooping and grows up to a length of 16 inches. Each inflorescence of this orchid species carries more than a few flowers. The male flowers measure about 4 inches across and have a creamy white. Occasionally, the flowers have a green tinge. On the other hand, the female flowers have an ivory hue with their lips having a yellow hue.
Catasetum tenebrosum produces trailing inflorescences and each produces numerous dark purplish red flowers. The lips are large and have a bright yellow hue. These orchids are in bloom in spring and summer.
The inflorescences of Catasetum viridiflavum grow up to a foot in length and they are elegantly arching. Each inflorescence bears several fragrant, ivory to pale yellow colored flowers. The individual flowers measure 4 inches across. The interior of the lip is pale orange hued.
Orchids belonging to genus Clowesia bear resemblance to those of genus Catasetum. However, the flowers of these two Calanthe genera differ. Similar to the flowers of most orchids, the blooms of Clowesia are "perfect" (they produce both the male and female parts in the same flowers).
The trailing inflorescences of Clowesia rosea grow up to a length of 5 inches and they carry more than a few bell-shaped pale to deep pink flowers. The lip of the flowers is heavily fringed. The individual flowers of this orchid species are small and measure just about an inch across. Plants of this species have been crossed with some catasetums bearing large and flat flowers have resulted in the creation of several attractive hybrids.
The plants of Clowesia russelliana (also known as Catasetum russellianum) are similar to those of Clowesia rosea. However, the flowers of this orchid species have a green hue, and their lips are white-edged.
The inflorescences of Clowesia warscewiczii (also known as Catasetum warscewiczii) orchid are drooping and grow up to a length of 12 inches. The color of the flowers of this orchid species vary from white to green.
Orchid species belonging to Coelogyne are found growing naturally over a vast region, ranging from the cool Himalayas to the sweltering forests of Borneo and further towards the east. The color of the flowers of these orchids is also varied – ranging from pure white to orange and brown to green and almost black.
All the plants in this orchid genus are epiphytic and the leaves of the plants emerge from the top of their pseudo bulbs. Some plants possess rambling rhizomes and their pseudo bulbs are widely spaced. This kind of plants should ideally be grown on long rafts.
The inflorescences of these orchids may either be erect or drooping. They may carry a solitary flower or numerous blooms. Generally, these orchids flourish in temperatures ranging from cool to intermediate. Most plants require bright light, but there are exceptions too.
This orchid species is generally found growing in the high altitudes in the Himalayan region and cool growing conditions are necessary for it to thrive well. (Actually, these plants are capable of enduring temperatures near freezing point). In places where the temperatures inside the house or greenhouse are high during summer, you may grow these orchids in a suspended manner outdoors in a location that is shady as well as breezy.
The flowers of this orchid species are fragrant and each arching inflorescence bears anything between three to ten blooms. While the inflorescence grows up to a length of 6 inches to 12 inches, the individual flowers measure about 3 inches to 4 inches across. The flowers have a pure white color with yellow markings on their lips. The plants are in bloom in winter and spring.
The inflorescences of Coelogyne dayana orchid are trailing and they grow up to a length of 2 feet to 3 feet. Each inflorescence is packed with 20 to 30 creamy hued to pale yellow to pale brown flowers. The brown lips of the flowers have white markings. This orchid species is native to Borneo and has a preference to warm conditions. These orchids are in bloom in spring or summer.
The flower stem of Coelogyne lawrenceana orchid grows up to a height of anything between 6 inches and 12 inches and bears a solitary flower whose color varies from yellow to greenish yellow. The individual flowers measure about 5 inches across. The white or red lip is red with a tinge of yellow and has marks of brownish protuberances. This orchid species requires intermediate temperatures and it is in bloom in spring.
The inflorescence of Coelogyne nitida (also known as C. ochracea) is erect or nodding and it carries anything between three to six white flowers. The individual flowers measure 1 ½ inches across and are fragrant. The lips are white and have red and yellow markings. This orchid species is in bloom in summer.
The pseudo bulbs of Coelogyne pandurata are widely spaced and this is a hint of the fact that this orchid needs to be grown in a basket or on a long raft. The inflorescence grows up to a height of 6 inches to 12 inches and carries more than a few lime green flowers.
The individual flowers measure about 4 inches to 5 inches across. The lips are green with prominent black markings. This orchid species requires warm temperatures to thrive well. The plants are in bloom in summer.
The orchids of this species bear resemblance to the plants of C. lawrenceana. However, the flowers of both the species are different. The color of the flowers of Coelogyne speciosa varies from yellowish green to greenish tan and the lip is brown. The plants are in bloom in fall.
The inflorescence of Coelogyne tomentosa (also known as C. massangeana) orchid is drooping and grows up to a length of 18 inches. Each inflorescence carries anything between 20 to 30 fragrant flowers, whose color varies from ivory, pale yellow to light brown.
The individual flowers measure about 2 inches across. The dark brown lip of this orchid species has yellow markings. The plants are in bloom from spring to fall. These orchids require a temperature range of warm to cool.
Cycnoches are also known as "swan orchids". There about 60 odd species in this genus and all of them have their origin in tropical America. These orchids are related to Catasetum and similar to the plants in the latter genus; these orchids also bear separate male and female flowers.
The common name of this genus has been derived from the elongated, arching column of the male blooms, which bear resemblance to the neck of a swan. Similar to the male flowers of Catasetum, the male flowers of Cycnoches too can shoot pollens on the visiting bees.
On the other hand, the column of the female flowers of this genus is relatively shorter and comprises three hooks that take the pollens from the pollenizing bees. The flowers of the plants in this genus are fragrant. The plants require plenty of water as well as feeding while the new growths emerge.
Subsequently, they need a brief resting period, when watering needs to be reduced. Ideally you should grow these orchids in temperatures ranging from intermediate to warm. However, it is also essential to protect the plants from intense sunlight.
The male inflorescence of Cycnoches chlorochilon (also known as C. ventricosum chlorochilon) orchid grows up to a length of 6 inches to 12 inches and each bear many flowers whose color varies from grey to pale green. The individual flowers measure about 5 inches across, while their lips are white. These orchids are in bloom from summer to fall.
The male inflorescence of Cycnoches egertonianum orchid is drooping and grows up to a length of anything between 16 inches and 36 inches, each bearing up to 30 open flowers at the same time. The flowers of this orchid species are fragrant and also last for a long time. The individual flowers measure about 3 inches across and have a green or greenish brown hue. The flowers have purple markings. This orchid blooms in autumn.
Cycnoches loddigesii orchid produces drooping inflorescences that grow up to a length of anything between 6 inches and 12 inches and each carries about six fragrant flowers. The color of the flowers varies from pale green to greenish brown to yellow and is spotted with reddish brown. The individual flowers measure about 5 inches across. The color of the lips also varies from white to pale pink. These orchids are in bloom in fall.
Plants belonging to Cycnoches ventricosum differ from those of C. chlorochilon as their flowers are smaller to some extent, while the petals as well as the sepals are swept backward.
These orchids have remained outside the mainstream of orchid culture primarily owing to the large size of the flowers and their muted color. However, one species in this genus is remarkable because it is known to be the largest orchid that is indigenous to the United States.
Cyrtopodium punctatum is also known as the "bee-swarm orchid". This is a giant orchid that is native to Florida in the United States. The pseudo bulbs of this orchid are torpedo-shaped and it can grow up to a height of a yard. Younger pseudo bulbs produce leaves, which measure up to 2 feet in length and, being deciduous, they shed during the winter.
The inflorescence of this orchid species is heavy, branching and grows up to a height of 5 feet or even more. The flowers have a greenish yellow hue and a lot of brown spots. The individual flowers measure about 1 ½ inches across and the plants are in bloom in spring.
You can grow these orchids in large pots or even mount them on trees. The plants have a preference for bright light and lots of water during their growing period and flowering season. At the same time, they need to be dried out a great deal when they are dormant.