Stephen's Catasetinae Culture
Catasetum, Clowesia, Cycnoches, and Mormodes are the primary genera that compose the catasetinae. They can be grown easily without the necessity of a greenhouse. They can grow in just about every kind of medium that you can imagine. Here's how Stephen grows his catasetums.
Growing Area. I grow all of my plants outside under a large shade house covered with 60% shade in the growing season and bring them into the greenhouse when the weather turns cold and they begin their dormancy.
Potting Mixes. I have seen them grown in rock, lava rock, rock wool, and all of the other orchid potting materials that are on the market. I use a mix of one part large sponge rock, one part medium charcoal, and one part peat moss. The pots are top dressed with a sprinkle of time release fertilizer and a thin layer of sphagnum to keep the fertilizer from splashing out. Since I grow outside under shade cloth I pot all my Catasetums in clay pots. They dry out faster and I do not lose any plants to rot whenever we have those months of rain every day for weeks at a time.
Spring Growth Cycle. In the spring they will send up a new growth and start the growth cycle all over again. This is the time to repot the plants. Remove the plant from the pot and cut most of the old roots off. Leave enough of the old dead roots on to stabilize the plant. Repot the plant slightly below the top of last year’s growth and position the new growth in the center of the pot. Move the plant to a warm growing area where it will get moderate light. DO NOT WATER AT THIS TIME! Wait until the new growth opens up with a leaf span of ˝ to 1 inch across. Only then do you start to water and feed the plant. Any old back bulbs can be cut from the plant and repotted in a dry mix. They will send up a new growth in a month or so.
Growing Season Care. Catasetums are heavy feeders and like a lot of water during the spring and summer. However, they do not like to be kept wet for an extended period of time.
Winter Care. I bring the catasetums into the greenhouse only when the weather turns cold in October. By this time most of the plants have begun to shed their leaves and begun their dormant period. At this time I do not water or feed them unless they are still in an active growing stage. Many of them will also be in spike and will be blooming for the second and third time. The plants should not be exposed to temperatures below 55F for an extended time. They can be kept on a window sill or somewhere in the house in the winter without any water or sun light.
Pest Control. Another significant advantage to growing Catasetums is that scale does not seem to favor these orchids. I have some trouble occasionally with mealy bugs and spider mites. I use a new product called Sorbishield that is a sugar based, nontoxic product for spider mites and mealy bugs and other soft bodied pests. So far this product has been very good.
Viruses. The transmission of orchid viruses is a concern for every orchid grower. I only use sterilized or new pots as well as other potting components (name tags, stakes, pot clips, etc.).
I test any suspicious plant with the Agdia testing system or Critter Creek Laboratory and would recommend them for any virus concerns.