Saturday, 27 February 2021 02:58

Looking After Orchids - Cycnoches

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Looking After Orchids


Cycnoches, or the Swan orchid, is spectacular. Cycnoches is a genus of sympodial epiphytic orchids from Americas, growing in warm and hot climatic range. Cycnoches belongs to Catasetinae group of orchids and has distinct and amazing features, differing them from other orchids. They have distinct male and female flowers (unisexual), which come in racemes, and never have hermaphroditic flowers. Male flowers and female flowers appear on different plants, inflorescence or rarely on the same inflorescence. Male flowers are produced when more intense light and temperatures are applied during the period of bud formation, but it is really hard to predict the sex of flowers. A long column of male flowers resemble swan neck, that’s why the name of this genus related to swans (Cycnoches means “Swan orchid”).


They grow on trees in xerophytic savanna forests, which have two distinct seasons –  the wet season and the dry season. That’s why  Cycnocheses orchids have a dormancy period, and their leaves are deciduous. They have slender, long pseudobulbs with a definite amount of nodes, broad, large veined leaves. They are particularly large orchids, flowers differ within species, but have common features and not resupinate. This genus has two subgenera sections – Eucycnoches and Heteranthae.  Eucycnoches flowers are usually bigger and fewer in a count, the type species Cycnoches loddigesii has large 5 inches wide, showy brown-greenish fragrant flowers with purple dots. Cycnoches lehmannii has beautiful scented flowers with solid green petals and sepals and white lip. Cycnoches chlorochilon has extremely large 7 inch wide greenish flowers. Cycnoches warscewiczii’s flowers resemble ones of Cycnoches lehmannii.  Heteranthae section has generally smaller flowers which come in dense racemes, unlike Eucycnoches, which have fewer, but larger flowers. Cycnoches peruvianum has tiny yellowish flowers with purple dots. Cycnoches pentadactylon’s flowers are larger; they are greenish with purple-brown dots. Cycnoches egertonianum has cultivars with different colors – either solid green or solid brown, and Cycnoches cooperi has beautiful orange-brown flowers.


Cycnoches orchid care

What’s about Cycnoches orchid care? They need to be potted to small ceramic pots with a rich substrate, containing bark and sphagnum moss, they need ample watering and ample fertilizers, as they’re heavy feeders. When flower spike is visible, it’s better to stop using fertilizers. In the fall, after the plant has stopped flowering, reduce watering and when deciduous leaves had fallen, stop watering at all till spring coming when dry dormancy is ended and the new growth starts to form. They really like bright sunlight and need high light levels (similar for Cattleya) for bursting flowering. Also, the difference between night and day temperature is important to stimulate flowering. That’s why it’s better to keep these orchids outside in the warm season of the year.


Growing Cychnoches as Mother Nature Would


text and photographs by FRED CLARKE

Sunset Valley Orchids, 1255 Navel Place, Vista, California 92081 (email; website


Cycnoches Kevin Clarke


Cycnoches Kevin Clarke is an orchid hybrid originated by F.Clarke in 2004. It is a cross of Cyc. warscewiczii x Cyc. herrenhusanum. It is considered a "primary hybrid" because it is a cross between two species.



SVO 703

Cyc. Kevin Clarke (Cyc. warscewiczii ‘Andy' x Cyc. herrenhusanum ‘SVO')

These have bloomed on bulbs 5" tall! Mature plants will carry 15 or more bright yellow flowers. Easy growing and flowering plants.  ( - Fred Clarke )   


Photo credit:  Fred Clarke of Sunset Valley Orchids



Cycnoches herrenhusanum


Common Name: Herrenhus' Cycnoches [The Herrenhus {Hanover Germany} Botanical Garden Cycnoches]


Found on the Pacific coast of southern Colombia and northern Ecuador at elevations of 50 to 210 [800] meters and is a medium sized, hot to warm growing epiphyte with spindle-shaped, narrow, close set pseudobulbs carrying 6 to 7, evenly distributed along the stem, plicate, lanceolate, acute, gradually narrowing below into the leaf bearing sheath and blooms in the winter on a pendulous, 15 to 20 flowered inflorescence with closely spaced, non-resupinate flowers .




Photo: Fred Clarke of Sunset Valley Orchids  (SVO 8079)

 Cyc. herrenhusanum '93 Gold Swans'




Cycnoches Martha Clarke


Cycnoches Richard Brandon is an orchid hybrid originated by F.Clarke in 2011. It is a cross of Cyc. warscewiczii x Cyc. Jean E. Monnier.



SVO 1816

(Cyc. warscewiczii ‘#3’ x Cyc. Jean E. Monnier ‘SVO’ AM/AOS)

The large, swan shaped warscewiczii will increase the flower size of Jean E. Monnier (Cyc. cooperi x Cyc. barthiorum) I expect the rich color and spotting from the Jean E. Monnier will come through and the lip to be modified into a shield like warscewiczii. This cross has been hard to make due to timing of male and female flower blooming periods, I am excited to finally have this available. This is the next level of breeding in Cycnoches. A first bloom seedling. ( - Fred Clarke of Sunset alley Orchids )

 Photo Credit:  Fred Clarke of Sunset Valley Orchids

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