ORIGIN: This is a large sized, hot growing, epiphytic, southwestern Brazilian species from Matto Grosso, Matto Grosso do Sul and Rondonia states in gallery Amazonian forests on living palms and dead trees at elevations of 200 to 500 meters.
DESCRIPTION: This is a large sized, hot growing, epiphytic, southwestern Brazilian species from Matto Grosso, Matto Grosso do Sul and Rondonia states in gallery Amazonian forests on living palms and dead trees at elevations of 200 to 500 meters with clustered, fusiform pseudobulbs enveloped basally by several deciduous, leaf sheaths carrying up to 11, arched, oblanceolate, plicate leaves that blooms in the fall in Brazil on a basal, arching to pendant, 18 2/5 [46 cm] long, racemose, several to many [to 20] flowered inflorescence arising on a newly mature pseudobulb.
FLOWER SIZE: 2 2/5 inches [6 cm] -- information provided by Jay Pfahl, author of the Internet Orchid Species Encyclopedia (IOSPE).
Photo: Fred Clarke, Sunset Valley Orchids, Ctsm. osculatum 'Kisses'
I managed to add this to my collection before Sunset alley Orchids sold out in August of 2020.
SVO 8006 Ctsm. osculatum (Ctsm. osculatum 'Kisses' x self)
We offer a few select Catasetum species every year, and this is our first offering of one of our favorite species. Of course, it’s hard to pick favorites, but osculatum is near the top of the list, in part because of its name which is derived from the word “osculate” meaning “kiss.” If you use your imagination when viewing the lip of the flower, you can envision a mouth and red lips. Flowers are an impressive bright yellow color and are produced 10-15 per inflorescence twice a year. We bloomed many plants to locate the exceptional cultivar ‘Kisses’.
This acquisition is on it's second growth with a single back bulb, so their is no expectation for bloom this season. Next year, 2021, I will have a growblog for it. The first challenge is this dormant season (2020-21) and waiting for the first sign of new growth that could bloom.
Native to: Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil West-Central
Growth and Culture:
Catasetum orchids occur from Mexico to Argentina, including much of Central America, the West Indies, and South America. They are found in very wet forests with distinct rainy and dry seasons, although these may be short or very long.
They are mostly epiphytes (tree-growing plants), occasionally lithophytic or rupicolus (rock-dwellers), or rarely terrestrials (ground orchids) with light green to white when new, with shiny green tips, and are covered by a thick layer of spongy velamen roots. Their pseudobulbs are long-lasting and highly conspicuous moisture-storage organs connected by a short, inconspicuous rhizome, are of several basic shapes, or combinations thereof: fusiform, ellipsoid, ovate and subconical. The pseudobulbs become spiny after the leaves have dropped. The leaves of all Catasetums are deciduous, range in size from short and narrow to as much as 60 cm long and 10 cm wide. The coloration of the leaves ranges from light green, which is sometimes an indication of intense insolation, to medium and dark green.
These orchids blooms unpredictably at almost any time of the year from the inflorescences that are produced from the first, second, or third ring above the base of the pseudobulb. In some species the flowers on an inflorescence open simultaneously, while in others they do so successively, commencing with the basal ones. They may carry male, female, or occasionally hermaphroditic (bisexual) flowers, in various combinations. Male and female flowers are markedly different in size and color. Female flowers are achieved by giving a mature plant high direct light, males will be produced by shading them some.
CATASETUM ORCHID PLANT CARE AND CULTURE
Cultural information should only be used as a guide, and should be to be adapted to suit you. Your physical location; where you grow your plants, how much time you have to devote to their care, and many other factors, will need to be taken into account. Only then can you decide on the cultural methods that best suit you and your plants.
Catasetum orchids are sun-loving plants, and in their natural habitats many species grow prolifically in full sunlight. Unless the strong air movement found in the natural habitat can be duplicated, however, the grower should provide some shade (30000 - 60000 lux). For the surge of new growth in the springtime, Catasetum plants should be positioned to receive all the sunlight that they can tolerate, depending on their origin, but as their pseudobulbs mature, thought should be given to whether male or female flowers are desired.
In nature, female flowers are produced in a much smaller proportion than the males. If female flowers are wanted, the plant should be kept at the limit of light for the species, but if male flowers are preferred, as they usually are unless the grower seeks the production of seed capsules, the plant should be grown in a shadier site. Flower sex is very difficult to predict, even if the grower pays attention to the amount of light exposure, but it is smart to play the percentages.
After plants placed in a shadier spot with a view to the production of male flowers have finished blooming, do not forget to restore them to their original locations, or the new growth cycle will suffer.
A few species, such as Catasetum cernuum Catasetum hookeri, Catasetum longifolium, and Catasetum rooseveltianum, should be grown in moderate to deep shade.
Photoperiodicity plays a role in determining when old growth stops and new growth begins, in the case of those species whose habitats are well north or south of the equator. But remember, many Catasetums come from the Amazon basin, where the day length does not vary much with the changing seasons.
Catasetums can be grown under lights if sufficient light intensity can be provided, and they certainly can be summered outdoors if their moisture requirements can be met.
Catasetums are denizens of hot tropical lowlands, from coastal Mexico down into the Amazon basin. In such regions, nighttime temperatures rarely fall below 18°C, with daytime highs generally from 29 to 35°C. Even in southern coastal Brazil, the nighttime temperature in the winter may fall below 10°C, but this affects only a very few Catasetum species (Catasetum atratum, Catasetum cernuum, Catasetum triodon, and Catasetum trulla come to mind). So for all but a few species, it behooves the grower to regard 18°C as the ideal minimum night temperature and not to be overly concerned about daytime highs as long as they stay below 39°C.
Catasetum orchid tolerate an environment with 40 - 60 % relative humidity during their growing season, but for optimal development of new growth and flowering, 70 % is recommended. Higher humidity increases the plants' ability to withstand and benefit from their quota of light, and it also slows the evaporation of moisture from the potting medium in which, or mounts on which, they grow, to the benefit of the watering schedule. Higher humidity also reduces the likelihood of spider mite attacks, since the little critters prefer warm, dry conditions.
Excessively low humidity during the growing season can stunt plant growth and cause flower buds to abort, but this does not mean that the grower should blindly strive for the highest possible relative humidity without concern for attendant problems. With humidity, there seems to be a fine dividing line between too much, increasing the likelihood of problems with rot, and too little, affecting plant growth and development.
Substrate, growing media and repotting:
Catasetum orchids can be grown in pot, container or wooden basket with fir bark, osmunda, tree fern fiber, charcoal, and sphagnum, in various proportions or combined with still other ingredients such as sponge rock, perlite, leaf mold, peat, and bark screenings as substrate. The recommended compost is 1 part coarse fir bark, 21 part medium fir bark, 1 part redwood chips, 1 part medium/coarse charcoal, 1 part very coarse perlite, 1/4 part ground coconut fiber, 1/4 part half-rotted wood and a sprinkling of bone meal.
It is recommended to repot every year and never wait more than two years. The optimal time for potting or repotting is when new growth on a plant emerging from dormancy is about 5 cm tall and the nubs have developed into new roots that are reaching for support.
These orchids can also mounted on wood. This option presupposes that the plant is sufficiently strong, that it is not so large as to be unwieldy when hanging from its mount, that the grower can provide adequate humidity for it during the growing season, that the conversion to mounting is done at the very beginning of the growth cycle, and that the species is known to adapt readily to this cultural practice. It is not necessary to remove them seasonally from their place in the collection, and they can be watered regularly.
All mounted, basket-grown, and unconventionally potted Catasetums may be watered every sunny day during the growing season, provided conditions are such that they dry off relatively quickly. In the case of conventionally potted adult plants, it should not be necessary to water more than once or, at most, twice a week. These species like to dry out at least slightly between waterings.
A good rule of thumb is that the more leaf surface and root system a plant has, the more water it requires. When you water, do so thoroughly, allowing the water to flow freely from the bottom of the pot after saturating the entire contents or penetrating the entire root mass of mounted and basket-grown plants.
Catasetum orchids have a reputation of being heavy feeders while actively growing, and the concept of heavy feeding should be applied both to the strength of the fertilizer and to the frequency of fertilizing. The standing goal should be to push the plants to the limit, to make them as strong, healthy, and dynamic as possible. Fertilize with an appropriate formulation at least every week during the growing season, or fertilize with a weak formula every time the plants are watered.
It is important to begin regular applications of high-nitrogen fertilizer (such as 10-5-5) with a full range of trace elements. As the leaves begin to unfurl, and well before flowering, add a high-phosphorus formula to develop big, strong pseudobulbs capable of producing robust inflorescences. Any of the soluble products with a large second-digit number (for example, 3-12-6) constitute a good source of phosphorus.
When the plants are leafless and no new growths are visible, the grower must respect their state of dormancy. That is not to say that every plant of every species goes through a dormant period every year, but most plants have a dormant period and, when it occurs, it must be recognized and respected. Watering frequency should be reduced during dormancy. Fertilization should stop completely during this period. Some species have a relatively short dormant period between leaf fall and new growth, and sometimes no dormancy at all, so the likelihood that at least some of their basic root system will survive from one growing season to the next increases. For this reason it is desirable to maintain a watering schedule, albeit reduced, during dormancy. The frequency of watering, however, should be drastically lowered only in the case of dormant conventionally potted plants, which should require water no more often than once every two weeks. Of course, the larger the pot size, the less frequent the need for watering.
In the springtime, at the beginning of the growth cycle, water should not be made regularly available for the newly developing roots until the new growth is at least 5 cm tall.
You can learn a lot about an orchid from looking, and admiring, various images of that orchid. I try to find images that give me an idea how big the actual orchid can get so I can plan ahead and make room for it as it grows. I also like a few images of the orchid in natural settings. When ever possible, I try and include oddities and examples as well.