Welcome to my 2020 GROW BLOG for the


Catasetum saccatum ( 'Brooklyn Botanic Garden' FCC/AOS x 'Dark Wonder' )


The parent Catasetums above are linked to a general culture and additional information page for the Catasetum saccatum Click on the images below for a full-sized image in a new tab. 


Let the fun in growing begin....



Brief Grow Blog and Pictures


This is one of my favorite species, and I'm always happy when these plants flower, which they do 3-4 times a season! Inflorescences can be up to 3' long, holding 25+ well-arranged flowers. Truly outstanding!!!  A bit of history: a while back I made a sibling cross of saccatum ('SVO' x 'SVO II'), and the best plant from that cross was named 'Dark Wonder' for its very dark rich burgundy petals and sepals. This pairing might very well produce the best group of saccatum yet seen; it sure has the genetic potential!  ( - Fred Clarke, Sunset Valley Orchids )


During the 2019 growing season, my Catasetum saccatum ( 'Dark Wonder' x 'Brooklyn Botanic Garden' FCC/AOS ) started to spike at the beginning of November and was in peak bloom at the  beginning of January 2020. 


I picked this one up because it is the opposite of my late bloomer from last year so I suspect it follow the same growth cycle pattern blooming in late December perhaps early January.





February 2020

Boxing Day - Catasetinae style.


Two bulbs with this Catasetum and last year's growth far surpasses the previous year's growth. When it comes time to re-pot this Catasetum I will position the bulbs so they "ride" just below or even with the surface of moss about 2 inches deep on top of clay pellets as I grow in a semi-hydroponic environment.


The picture to the left is straight out of the box. The picture below and to the left is after a little cleaning of the back bulbs.  The picture below and to the right focuses on this year's new growth starting to develop.  It makes an orchid grower happy to see new growth poking out and start the new year.



20 February 2020

Included in my transition from the 3' pot to the current pot I cleaned up some of the roots  on top and bottom of the root ball and positioned the new growth centered and just below the edge of the pot.


Watering will be delayed as long as possible so that the roots grow long searching for a source to tap and absorb.  The back bulb is in very good shape so shrivelling from water being transferred to the new growth might not be seen for a month or two.  If the back bulb starts to show signs of severe water depletion by shrivelling I will slowly start watering but not heavy watering, enough to moisten the moss and pellets but not establish a reservoir at the bottom.  The goal is still get the roots to lengthen as much as possible.


Sacramento is experiencing a very dry February with very few days that could be called "overcast".  Lack of rain means a lack of cloudy days so in my growing area this and all the other Catasetinaes have been getting plenty of exposure to sun.  Once the ambient temperature is above 55-degrees, the orchids get marched from my kitchen to the growing area.  As the sun sets, everybody is marched back to the kitchen where it is warm, warmer then the 40-degree over night temperatures.


In my portable, mini-greenhouse shelves, along with the orchids I add a few water traps that add humidity as the inside of the green house gets warm in the sun, guessing mid-80's even tho the outside temperature be about  mid 60's.


Catasetinaes that have new growth spreading young leaves are in the middle row, front row is for Catasetinaes that have started new growth but no leaf development.


I try to check the mini-greenhouses twice during the afternoon for "feel" temperature and any humidity.


The first half of March I will be out of town so the Catasetinaes will be staged in a spot they get some direct afternoon sun (unless overcast skies) and protection from the cold overnight temperatures.


My absence will be the ultimate solution to resist the temptation of watering before the Catasetinaes are ready for it.


At the end of February I will repeat the sequence of the photos to the left and publish upon my return along with photos after my return.  It be interesting to compare the results of growth in my absence.  The images left are half sized so use browser options to view full sized images.





March 2020

Photo dated 20 March 2020




March 2020

Photo dated 24 March 2020







 9 April 2020

The hardest part of growing the Catasetinae is fighting and resisting at all costs the very strong desire to water these orchids.  However, if water too soon, the roots will not fully extend to their full potential.  The key is keeping an eye on the condition of the supporting backbulb(s) comment.  The more extreme the shrivelling of the backbulb, the more it is being drained of water by the new growth.  This is normal as new roots from the new growth are searching for a reliable water supply.


All during March I resisted watering.


It is the middle of April and still no water.


An advantage of quickly snapping photographs is that each image is a visual record of the progress of the orchid.  If you look back at the images and scroll up, you can see signs that the backbulb of this orchid is shrivelling slightly.  Unlike many other orchids, where the backulb functions as a one time use reservoir for water for the plant, that backbulb will shrivel, but never regain its plump state.  Catasetinaes, once watering of he orchid begins, the backbulbs will return to a plump state as they begin to absorb water for the next dry rest and supporting of future new growth.


In the second image to the left from the top of this entry, the new spike is already emerging from the base (I predict full bloom just after Father's Day, so Happy Father's Day Dad in advance.)  I only menion that because this particular saccatum I unofficially refer to "Towalend" in honor of my father.  The saccatum ( 'Dark Wonder' x  'Brooklyn Botanic Garden' FCC/AOS ), I unoffically refer to my mother, "Suwalend".


The saccatum ( 'Dark Wonder' x  'Brooklyn Botanic Garden' FCC/AOS ), that I unofficially refer to my mother, "Suwalend", last growing season started its spike late October, early November and did not reach maximum bloom until early January.  (I almost lost "Suwalend" to careless watering habits that caused bulb rot and I have no intention of repeating that mistake, you can read about that adventure here.)  I wonder if it follow the same pattern of blooming in mid-winter?  This orchid pictured left, has already started it's spike for a possible June bloom.


For the month of April, I will a close eye on the backbulb.  If it reaches a point of rapid shrielling, I will water the medium just enough to get it damp.


April nights are still on the chilly side here so just before sunset I parade all the orchids from my growing area outside to my kitchen and this allows me the chance to look closely at each orchid as I march them out in the late morning and again late afternoon.


An advantage of the semi-hydroponic potting method is the ability to add water to the reservoir of the pot by just simply dunking it into a slightly larger container where the water just above the intended drainage holes permits water to flow into the pot.  This will not get the top moss wet or even damp allowing the roots to keep searching for a water source at the bottom of the pot.


Image bottom left and image center below are centered on the new spike.





19 April 2020





 1 May 2020

Through April, I resisted the urge to water except by backfilling the reservoir.  I repeated as needed every few days keeping in mind a brief hot spell.


The new growth is developing nicely.


As long as temperatures stay near seasonable for this time of year I will refrain from top watering.  However, these bulbs are much thinner then other Catasetinaes so will also keep an eye on the condition of the supporting backbulb.


A spike is poking its head out from the base so i suspect this orchid be blooming end of June or early July.




1 June 2020






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July 2020




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