Cycnoches warscewiczii


Common Name:  Warscewicz's Cycnoches [Polish Orchid Collector 1800's]

Flower Size: 5" or less [7.5 cm or less]

This plant is found in central Costa Rica to Colombia and is an epiphytic, deciduous, medium sized, warm growing orchid found on trees and rotten logs and occasionally as a terrestrial beside rotten logs at elevatiions of 700 to 1000 meters. The new lead for the pseudobulb arises in April and quickly grows to a height of 12" with 14" [30 to 40 cm] leaves until it blooms in September-October as or after it drops it's leaves. At this time no water should be given until the new lead appears in April and it is at least 2" tall. Heavy fertilizing should follow the same schedule with a bloom buster applied once or twice in August-September. Heavily scented 4" flowers are arranged in a pendant, racemose, several flowered inflorescence arising from the leaf nodes at the apex of the newest, mature, leafless pseudobulb.

Synonyms Cycnoches tonduzii Schltr. 1923; Cycnoches ventricosum Bateman var warscewiczii [Rchb.f]P.H.Allen 1952


I believe this pairing of Cyc. warscewiczii will yield the highest quality flowers to date and will set a new standard for this desirable species. Both of these highly select cultivars came from the earlier cross of ('SVO' AM/AOS x 'SVO II' AM/AOS).  'Giant Swan' is one of my best, with very large flowers, and has produced 3-4 inflorescences per pseudobulb. 'OMG Giant' has the largest flower with the widest petals and can carry 7 flowers per inflorescence. I cannot imagine a better pairing. These are perfect for the discriminating collector who wants the very best examples of this amazing species. ( Description courtesy Fred Clarke of Sunset Valley Orchids )  (SVO 8079)



Photo by Jay Pfahl

2021 Grow Blog:  This will be my first year growing this orchid


"Cycnoches warscewiczii is found in Colombia as a warm to hot growing epiphyte (sometimes saprophyte (a plant, fungus, or microorganism that lives on dead or decaying organic matter.)) that loves lots of water, rain, nutrients and sun during the growing season.  When the huge pseudobulb is maturing in mid fall it produces up to five large flowers and wants no water for six months or so.  The flowers are non-resupinate, which means that they are upside-down.  Even more strange is that Cycnoches is one of the few genera that carry seperate male and female flowers.  Male flowers (the more attractive blooms) can measure up to 5 inches (12.5 – 13 cm).  The somewhat funny-looking female flowers look like they are having helmets and develop only on very large and old plants because only a large plant can supply nutrients to and carry the seed capsules. 


Cyc. warscewiczii and chlorochilon carry the largest flowers in the genus and are both known to emit a strong pleasant fragrance.  As we all know, when it comes to scents and taste, we all have our opinions.  Whatever scent Cyc. warscewiczii is supposed to emit, to me it only is reminiscent of some very synthetic candy aroma."



General Overview:


The Catasetum Orchid is a beautiful vivid orchid species that is prized by growers for its versatility and beauty. This orchid is fairly easy to grow if you can replicate the correct conditions. Almost always deciduous, the pseudobulbous plants have strict growing and resting periods that they cycle through each year.


These vivid plants originate in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South America, and Central America where they can grow in sand, rocky conditions, and near ant colonies. This orchid develops fleshy waxy flowers, and the plants are unisex, which is rare in orchids. The male blooms are identified by their bright colours and large size while the female blooms are a yellow-green colour and have a smaller stature. Another distinguishing trait that sets this species apart is its ability to eject its pollen directly onto its pollinators.


CULTURE CARE  (General and Basic)


Growth Cycle:


Understanding the Catasetinae growth cycle is the key to successful culture. When the plants are in active growth, maintain a fairly constant root zone moisture and fertilise regularly to optimize new growth. When the plants are dormant no water is needed as the pseudobulbs store sufficient water and nutrients to survive their winter rest.


Early Season:


Catasetums begin their new growth cycle in winter to early spring. Once you see new growth, re-pot your plants into new medium. Last year's roots seem to deteriorate during dormancy and are not as effective as the new roots at taking water and nutrients. Whether or not you repot, do not water your plant until the new growth has well developed new roots. Your roots should be 8 to 12 cms long, so for the sake of simplicity, do not water until your new top growth is 8 to 12 cms tall. This cannot be emphasised enough. Do not water until the new growth has become well established.


New Growth - Is it the first of this year's new growth or a spike? 


Some varieties of Catasetinaes will spike and bloom before starting new growth so one needs to be able to distinguish the two, but they get treated the same - no water!!!  The pseudobulb(s) from past years, in particular last year's growth will sustain the spike and blooms with out any assist from you.   However, this is most efficient when last year's growth was very healthy establishing a large, robust pseudobulb.  Do keep an eye on the back bulb.  As it supplies water ad nutrients to the spike or new growth, it will shrink and shrivel.  This is caused as water is transferred from storage to be used by the orchid sustaining any new growth.  Unlike other orchids with pseudobulbs,  Catasetinae bulbs will almost return to it's original size once watering begins.


Spike:  Starts growing vertical from the base, resembling very young asparagus with the buds in a tight cluster at the tip  (photos of a immature spike).  For more information, see the "In Spike" section below.


New Growth:   Typically darker then the spike growth and follows a vertical pattern but will lean heavily towards the light source if allowed.  The young leaves (easily recognizable) replace a tight cluster of buds at the tip.  To counter any lean towards the light source, eery few days I rotate the pot so growth is as close to vertical as possible. (photos of emerging new growth from base of last year's a immature spike).


It has become a joke in jest that catasetinae growers are much more happy about spotting he fist sign of new growth confiming that dormancy is coming to an end hen admiring the fully opened blooms.




New roots are established and the plants are rapidly developing their new pseudobulbs. The growth spurt during this 3 to 4 month period is surprising, often the plants will double in size. To keep pace with their growth rate, the plants require constant moisture and regular fertilization. Normally you will water 2 or 3 times a week. A balanced fertilizer at full strength is suitable for this rapid growth or you can top dress with a controlled release fertilizer and apply water soluble fertilizers at a dilute rate, say 2 grams per Litre. Light levels at or above those suggested for Cattleyas will help insure strong good growth and flowering. The fruits of your labor will begin to pay off as the flowering season begins.


Not everything in agriculture is equal.  Those in South Florida, Gulf Coast, and Texas are about a month ahead of West Coast and Northwest growers.



That First Watering


My orchid is almost bare root in the pot and if you are familiar with SVO Catasetinaes in the 3-inch pot, the roots seem to grow mainly along the inside edge of the pot.  They seem to avoid growing through or into the moss. When the new growth and the root mass starts to scream "water me", I will oblige.  It will get a nice soak in water and at the same time as much of the old moss be removed, roots trimmed if need be and then allowed to sit bare-root overnight.  Remember the first waterings should be just enough to moisten the roots (no fertilizer) but entice the roots to keep growing in length.  After allowing a good drying, finish potting it.  Couple days later, second watering.  Eventually the amount and frequency of watering can be increased that is required in your area.


By the end of June, watering should be full strength and every other watering can include fertilizer or fertilize these as you would other orchids.


I grow using semi-hydroponics.  Starting in June or sooner depending on what the orchid is telling me,  I have a reservoir of water at the bottom of my customized pots that is about an inch deep. The day after fertilizing I drain the reservoir (tilt pot, drain as much as can) and then flush the pot to remove as much old water mixed with fertilizer as possible.  (link to semi-hydroponic growing method).    link coming



Sunlight and Air Movement


It is my understanding that Catasetinaes appreciate and can tolerate bright light conditions, just not sure how this affects blooming when these orchids bloom in both Vanda-light and Phal.-light conditions.


Air movement is vital if growing near full unblocked sun as prolonged exposure without the disturbance of leaves "flutering" in a breeze, the very thin leaves can burn.


Pointing a fan away from your orchids will keep the air moving. Not only does air movement help prevent bacterial and fungal infections from growing on your orchids, but it also mixes hot and cool air, raising or lowering the temperature to a more optimal range. 


Set the fan to low, you don’t want a hurricane, and point the fan away from the orchids. If the fan is pointed directly at the orchids you risk drying out the leaves and roots.



"In Spike"


As they develop they are susceptible to following the light.  I have had spikes in a twisted shape and this is something I wish to avoid.


My goal is a successful blooming after protecting the spike so the buds can mature and open. I expect one or two blooms the first season, then each year after the bloom count increase as the plant gets bigger and stronger.







The pendulous spike forms under a leaf near the tip of the bulb.  A slight lean of the pseudobulbs is advantageous as gravity will help the spike clear the foilage so the blooms be free and clear to be their best size and shape.  As the spike matures, keep an eye on it and make adjustments as needed.



Late Season:

In the late autumn the plants will begin to enter the dormancy phase, caused by the maturity of the pseudobulb, shorter day length, cooler day/night temperatures and a reduction of root zone moisture. The first signals you will observe on your plants are yellowing and browning off of the leaves. As a general rule, this will happen by mid-November, at which time you will stop fertilizing them and reduce watering by half. When all the leaves have dropped or by the end of December, stop watering the plants. Watering during dormancy should only be done if the plant bulbs shrivel severely. Usually a single irrigation is sufficient to restore the bulbs.


This is where I pay close attention to what the orchid is telling me.  When the bottom leaves turn yellow, I stop watering.





By the end of December the leaves should have by now turned brittle yellow and start off fall off the bulb.  The last "light" watering was at the beginning of the month. The orchid is ready to enjoy a month or two off to rest before repeating the life-cycle come February with new growth.


The dormant bulb has only one requirement at this time and that is protection from extreme cold temperatures.


Care of he bulb at this time is followed by a few different ways with a focus on boosting humidity around the roots but following the "no-water" rule.  I remove the bulb from the clay pellets (very easily done) shake the roots clean and free of debris, and place the orchid ad tag back in he pot bare-root.


If the outside temperature be above 55-degrees and mostly sunny skies, I will stage my dormant bulbs outside so they get some inspirational sunlight. 


Light Requirements:

Catasetum orchids are sun-loving plants, and in their natural habitats many species grow prolifically in full sunlight. Unless the strong air movement as found in the natural habitat is available, the grower should provide some shade as well. 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.


Catasetums are known to produce male or female flowers based on the amount of light and humidity they are subject to.  High light and low moisture tend to induce production of female flowers while low light and high humidity produce male flowers


A few species, such as Catasetum Cernuum, Catasetum Hookeri, Catasetum Longifolium, and Catasetum Rooseveltianum, should be grown in moderate to deep shade.


Temperature Requirements:

These orchids are native to hot tropical areas and grow during the rainy summer months. During this growing period, day temperatures of 27°C to 38° C and night temperatures of 16° to 18° C are beneficial. After growths mature, temperatures can be reduced to 12° C at night, with day temperatures of 21° to 30° C. In general for all but a few species, the grower can 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.


Water Requirements :

Catasetums require plenty of water during their growth phase.  This starts when new growths appear with the onset of the pre-monsoon showers.  Watering should be gradually increased as they mature by the end of the monsoon.  Once the pseudobulbs are mature, watering should be reduced and tapered down until they start dropping their leaves which is an indication that water should be withheld completely except occasionally to prevent shrinking of their pseudobulbs.  It is at this time that they will come into bloom.


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. 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.


"A good rule of thumb is that the more leaf surface and root system a plant has, the more water it requires"


Humidity Requirements :

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. This can be provided in the home by placing the plants on trays of gravel, only partially filled with water so that the plants do not sit in the water. Air should always be moving around the plants to prevent fungal or bacterial disease, especially if high humidity or cool temperatures exist. 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 they grow. Higher humidity also reduces the likelihood of spider mite attacks, since the little critters prefer warm and dry conditions.


Fertilizer Requirements :

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. Use a high nitrogen formulation (such as 30-10-10) with a full range of trace elements while plants are in active growth, slowly tapering off as pseudobulbs form. 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 of N:P:K constitute a good source of phosphorus. A blossom- booster formulation should be used in the autumn, except for plants that normally bloom in the spring.



Recommended Fertilizers:

  • Balanced Fertilizer for Growth: 20-20-20 (NPK) – 2 grams per litre of water – Spray once in every alternative weeks (14 Days) - Only on Mid Season

  • High-Phosphorus Fertilizer for Blooming: 0-52-34 (MPK) – 1 gram per litre of water – Spray on every alternative weeks (14 Days) - Towards the end of Mid Season


Potting , Media and Propagation :

Potting should be timed to coincide with the initiation of new growth, usually in the spring. New roots will be produced quickly at that time, and plants will experience minimal setback. These plants have vigorous root systems and require a rich, moist potting medium such as coconut husk chips during the growing season. Many growers bare-root their plants during the resting period to ensure dryness at that time. Fine-grade media are common for smaller pots; medium-grade media are used only in larger pots. Sphagnum moss is used successfully for plants in many areas, as it provides tremendous water- and fertilizer-holding capacities.


When well grown, these orchids can be divided down to one mature pseudobulb and will then flower on the next mature growth. Hanging the pots or mounts is best because it provides good air movement around the plants. Remember that mounted, plants will require more frequent watering - two or more time per day in the hottest season. A good compromise is to place the plants in pots that are suspended. This offers advantages of both pots and mounts.  Some people prefer to re-pot their plants every year at the beginning of the growth period for best results.


"Most plants have a dormant period and, when it occurs, it must be recognised and respected"

Pests and Other Catasetum Related Problems :
Fungal and Bacterial Diseases of Catasetum are common because of the levels of humidity and substrate they need to survive. Fungal agents cause problems like root rot, leaf spots, leaf blights and spots on flowers.




Cycnoches tonduzii    1923    Schltr. 

Cycnoches warszewiczii    1852    Rchb.f. 



Known Cultivars    

This list is not complete.  I combined identified cultivars from;  Catasetinae CanadaSunset Valley Orchids and




Cyc. warscewiczii var. warscewiczii 'Jan's Swan' CBM/AOS. R.Abbott 1975-08-06



The following are from SVO


Cyc. warscewiczii 'Amazing Swan'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'Extra Wide Petals'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'Giant Swan'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'Hand'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'Jumbo'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'OMG Giaint'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'OMG'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'Select Wide Petals'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'Sunset Valley Orchids' AM/AOS

Cyc. warscewiczii 'SVO 10'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'SVO 6179'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'SVO Best'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'SVO II'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'SVO Jumbo Super'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'SVO Jumbo Super' ('SVO' AM-AOS x 'Jumbo Mutation')

Cyc. warscewiczii 'SVO Select #1' 

Cyc. warscewiczii 'SVO Swan'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'SVO Swan' x 'OMG'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'SVO' AM/AOS

Cyc. warscewiczii 'Swan Lookalike'

Cyc. warscewiczii 'World Class'




SWAN ORCHID : Cycnoches chlorochilon

My Cycnoches warscewiczii blooming


















Sand Box


Mateial below this point is "dumped" here and will b added to the main presentation.

Attention fans of Peristeria elata, the Dove Orchid. Allow me to introduce you to the Swan Orchid, which is flowering now in the Orchid Display House. Notice the graceful arching neck (the column), the white body (the lip) and chartreuse wings. Okay, it's an inverted swan, but never mind--it's lovely.


Cycnoches warscewiczii is just one of 30 or so species of Cycnoches, the Swan Orchids, which grow in the American tropics. Cycnoches produce flowers that are usually either male or female. In some species the male and female flowers look so strikingly different that they were initially thought to be different species.


If you love orchid fragrances, you will want to experience this one. Like so many other Euglossine bee-pollinated orchids, this one smells delicious.


Acquiring pollen involves a sort of trapeze maneuver on the part of the bee. Even so, pollination isn't on his agenda at all. His goal is to simply to collect the liquid fragrance from the flower's lip, probably for pheromone production. As the bee grasps the margins of the lip with his two pairs of front legs, he releases his grasp with his two hind legs. His abdomen swings downward and touches the tip of the column, accidentally discharging the golden pollen masses onto his back.


The bee finishes collecting the fragrance and off he goes, cologned and resplendent, in search of yet more fragrance. Does he notice his cool new bling? Probably not. Eventually he arrives at a female flower, which he unwittingly pollinates while collecting fragrance.

Cycnoches Orchid, the Swan Orchid


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Temperature: The ideal day temperature is 75-80 degrees F., while the ideal night temperature is 60-65 degrees F. Occasional temperature extremes are tolerated if exposure is not prolonged. As long as you keep the temperature reasonable, you should have a healthy plant. 

Light: Bright diffused light is necessary to bring Cycnoches into bloom; this can include a little sun (not direct sunlight) for up to two hours a day. 

Water: Unlike some orchids that require a drying out period, Cycnoches grow throughout the entire year and must be kept evenly moist. Drench the plant in the early morning and let them dry out before nightfall. Once a week watering during the winter and twice a week during summer is normally sufficient. 

Repot: Cycnoches are considered terrestrial, which means that a general bark or orchid mix should suit them well. Repot your Cycnoches at least once every 2 years or when the potting medium begins to decay. See our ESSENTIALS for more details. 

Feeding: High-nitrogen fertilizers (25-9-9) can be used year-round at one teaspoon per gallon of water. Feed once a month.


1. When you first receive your Cycnoches choose a spot for it and move it from that spot as little as possible.

2. Once the plant gets acclimated to a certain location, they tend to stay the healthiest when left in one spot.

3. After you receive the plant wait 5-7 days before watering it, after the first watering, water it once a week. When watering is complete, ensure that all the residual water has drained from the bottom of the pot before replacing it in its decorative container.

4. It is normal for the leaves and stem of the plant to have a "bent" almost drooping look. This is natural with all Cycnoches and will by no means shorten the life of the plant.






Arne's Orchid Corner

Sunday, December 3, 2017 Orchid of the day: Cychnoches warscewiczii


The care-provider of this orchid is from Maryland in he USA.  This is a guess based on the simple fact the only orchid society she mentions is the Maryland Orchid Society and the National Capital Judging Center.


I had a few questions bouncing around in my head and the obvious first and most important - "when will this bloom?"  I now have a pretty good idea,  East Coast, Mid Atlantic region, This orchid started showing signs of spike mid fall.   Opposite coast, mine should follow the same time.




Cychnoches warscewiczii

  October 1st.



Two flower buds upclose.

  Peculiar looking orchid buds.




By late October, both flowers were opening.

  Our upside down flowers.


A concluding photo of this interesting Cychnoches warscewiczii flower.




How to Grow: Catasetum Orchid care

 (go back and check the images)

Arne's Orchid Corner

Looking After Orchids

bud blast





to-do list

Final edit and proofread is still required

In the "sand box" area, material has been removed from content that is duplicated, misleading and information about sex of bloom and possible ways to "force" female flowers as this only be of interest to someone with intention to hybridize in the future. but I included the original links so anyone can follow these topics.


Feel free to leave a comment (they wait for me to activate and reply if needed).

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