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.