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Cattleya skinneri Bateman

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ORCHID SPECIES CULTURE
Charles and Margaret Baker

Cattleya skinneri Bateman 

AKA: Epidendrum huegelianum Rchb. f. 
Cattleya skinneri Bateman var. bowringiana Kränzlin is now considered a
synonym of C. bowringiana Veitch. 
C. skinneri Bateman var. parviflora Hooker, C. skinneri Bateman var.
patinii (Cogniaux) Schlechter, and C. skinneri Bateman var. autumnalis
Allen are included as synonyms of C. deckeri Klotzsch by those who
consider it a species. 
Some authorities list C. deckeri Klotzsch. as a synonym of C. skinneri
Bateman, as they consider it only a geographic variant. See discussion
below at Miscellaneous Notes. 

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras,
Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, Cattleya skinneri is one of the
most common orchids, and it has been designated the National Flower.
Plants usually grow in wet mountain forests from near sea level to about
4100 ft. (1250 m), but they also occur on rocks at higher elevations where
rainfall is greater and evaporation is less. 

CLIMATE: Station #78762, San Jose, Costa Rica, Lat. 10.0N, Long. 84.2W, at
3021 ft. (921 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 2500 ft.
(760 m), resulting in probable extremes of 94F (34C) and 51F (10C).

N/HEMISPHERE    JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN  JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC
F AVG MAX        77   78   81   81   82   81   79   80   81   79   79   77
F AVG MIN        60   60   61   64   64   64   64   63   63   62   62   60
DIURNAL RANGE    17   18   20   17   18   17   15   17   18   17   17   17
RAIN/INCHES     0.6  0.2  0.8  1.8  9.0  9.5  8.3  9.5 12.0 11.8  5.7  1.6
HUMIDITY/%       73   69   68   70   78   83   82   81   84   85   79   76
BLOOM SEASON      *   **   **   **  ***   **              *    *    *
DAYS CLR @ 6AM    5    8   11    2    1    0    0    0    2    1    2    3
DAYS CLR @12PM    5    4    8    3    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    1
RAIN/MM          15    5   20   46  229  241  211  241  305  300  145   41
C AVG MAX      25.0 25.6 27.2 27.2 27.8 27.4 26.2 26.7 27.2 26.1 26.1 25.0
C AVG MIN      15.6 15.4 16.0 17.6 17.6 17.6 17.6 17.1 17.1 16.5 16.5 15.4
DIURNAL RANGE   9.4 10.2 11.2  9.6 10.2  9.8  8.6  9.6 10.1  9.6  9.6  9.6
S/HEMISPHERE    JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC  JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN

Cultural Recommendations: 

LIGHT: 2500-3500 fc. Strong air movement at all times is recommended.
Winter is the brightest season in the habitat, so light should be
increased for cultivated plants if at all possible. 

TEMPERATURES: Throughout the year, days average 77-82F (25-28C), and
nights average 60-64F (15-18C), with a diurnal range of 15-20F (9-11C).
The warmest days of the year occur in spring. 

HUMIDITY: 80-85% from late spring into autumn, dropping to near 70% during
the dry season in late winter and early spring. 

WATER: Rainfall is heavy from late spring into autumn. It then decreases
rapidly causing the 4-5 month winter dry season. Cultivated plants should
be watered often while actively growing, but the roots must always be
allowed to dry rapidly. Water should be reduced in autumn after new
growths are mature. 

FERTILIZER: 1/4-1/2 recommended strength, applied weekly. A high-nitrogen
fertilizer is beneficial from spring to midsummer, but a fertilizer high
in phosphates should be used in late summer and autumn.

REST PERIOD: Growing temperatures should be maintained year-round. In the
habitat, rainfall is low in winter; but some does fall each month and
additional moisture from dew is available, even in the driest months.
Water should be reduced for cultivated plants in winter, but they should
not be allowed to remain completely dry for long periods. During the
winter dry season, the light available to the orchid increases because
cloud cover is less and the deciduous trees on which the orchid grows lose
their leaves. Increased light helps cure the new growths and induce
flowering. Fertilizer should be reduced or eliminated until water is
increased in spring. 

GROWING MEDIA: Plants are usually grown in pots or baskets filled with a
very coarse, open, fast draining medium that allows the roots to dry
rapidly after watering. Undersized pots with room for only 1-2 year's
growth are recommended because the medium in larger pots remains wet for
too long after watering. As a result, roots do not dry fast enough and are
eventually lost to root rot. Most growers recommend using coarse-grade
fir-bark, but others prefer to use coarse cork-nuggets mixed with large
chunks of charcoal. These plants may also be mounted on tree-fern or cork
slabs, but high humidity must be maintained year-round and the plants
watered at least once daily during summer. Several waterings a day may be
necessary for mounted plants during extremely hot, dry weather. Repotting
or dividing should be done only when new root growth is just starting.
This allows the plant to become established in the shortest possible time
with the least amount of stress. If disturbed at the wrong time, many
bifoliate Cattleyas stay in a semi-dormant sulk until they finally die. 

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The bloom season shown in the climate table is based
on cultivation reports. In nature, the plants bloom in winter and spring.
This Cattleya often makes multiple new growths forming dense clumps. This
trait makes them very easy to grow into specimen plants. 
Over the years C. patinii and C. deckeri Klotzsch have been so confused
and the names are so frequently interchanged that there is probably no way
to determine which plant was actually being discussed by any particular
writer. Both names are listed as synonyms of C. skinneri Bateman by some
authorities who consider C. deckeri only a geographic variant and
therefore a synonym of C. skinneri Bateman. Others feel that C. patinii is
simply a synonym of C. deckeri. However, Dressler (1993 & 1995) contends
that the plant that has been referred to as C. deckeri in Panama is
actually C. patinii and that C. deckeri is a synonym of the natural hybrid
C. X guatemalensis T. Moore. He differentiates the Panamanian plants by
their bloom season, which occurs in autumn instead of spring, and the
color of the lip, which is darker than C. skinneri. Withner (1988)
includes C. patinii Cogniaux, C. skinneri Bateman var. parviflora Hooker,
C. skinneri Bateman var. patinii (Cogniaux) Schlechter, C. skinneri
Bateman var. autumnalis Allen as synonyms of C. deckeri. It will probably
be some time before a taxonomic consensus is reached, if ever. Since
Dressler's work is the most recent, we have followed his taxonomy and
included C. patinii as a separate species with C. deckeri listed as a
synonym of C. X guatemalensis. .

Plant and Flower Information: 

PLANT SIZE AND TYPE: A stout, erect, 20 in. (50 cm) sympodial epiphyte or
lithophyte. 

PSEUDOBULB: Usually less than 14 in. (35 cm) long, but pseudobulbs may
reach a length of 20 in. (50 cm). They are slightly compressed,
club-shaped, and covered with tubular sheaths which grow from nodes along
the stem. 

LEAVES: 8 in. (20 cm) long and about 2 in. (5 cm) wide. Each growth
produces 2 stiff, leathery leaves at the top of the pseudobulb. 

INFLORESCENCE: Up to 5.5 in. (14 cm) long. The erect inflorescence emerges
after several months of cool dry rest. It breaks through the 5 in. (12 cm)
long sheath that developed between the leaves at the end of the previous
growing season. The sheath may have turned brown before blooming occurs,
but that doesn't mean that the bud inside is dead. 

FLOWERS: 4-12, but blossoms may not all open at the same time. Flowers are
up to 3.5 in. (9 cm) across and sometimes faintly fragrant. Sepals are
relatively narrow with pointed tips. The wider petals have wavy edges. The
lip, which is vaguely 3-lobed, is rolled forming a funnel-shaped tube that
completely conceals the column. The open end of the lip is widely flared
with a slightly undulating margin. Normally, the sepals and petals are
evenly colored rose-purple with a glittering crystalline texture when
viewed in good light. The apical portion of the lip midlobe is often
somewhat darker than the sepals and petals, and the throat is marked with
a large spot of white or creamy yellow. Plants and flowers of C. skinneri
normally vary only slightly, but a few clones of the pure white alba form
have been discovered. The white form occurs most often in Costa Rica, but
it is occasionally seen in Guatemala. The semialba form is all white
except for a spot of purple at the base of the lip. These plants have been
referred to as var. occulata, but when found in collections are usually
labeled as var. alba. According to Dr. Carl Withner, such plants should be
labeled as var. occulata alba. 

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome counts are n = 20 and 2n = 40 (Tanaka). 
The genetics of this species is dominant when crossed with most other
species. The most well-known C. skinneri Bateman hybrid is C. X
guatemalensis T. Moore, a natural hybrid with C. aurantiaca  (Bateman ex
Lindley) P. N. Don that is found in many colors ranging from white through
yellow and orange, to salmon, pink-rose, purple, and even red. 

REFERENCES: 

Ames, O. and D. S. Correll. (1952-1965) 1985. Orchids of Guatemala and
Belize. Dover Publications, New York. 

Bechtel, H., P. Cribb, and E. Launert. 1980. Manual of cultivated orchid
species. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Dressler, R. 1993. Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama.
Comstock Publishing Assoc. Ithaca and London. 

Dressler, R. 1995. What is Cattleya deckeri? Orchid Digest 59(2):65. 

Fowlie, J. 1967. Ecology notes - Observations on Cattleya skinneri and C.
deckeri. American Orchid Society Bulletin 36(9):777. 

Hamer, F. 1982. Orchids of Nicaragua, part 1. Icones Plantarum Tropicarum
fasc. 7, plates 601-700. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 South Palm
Avenue, Sarasota, FL 33577. 

Hawkes, A. [1965] 1987. Encyclopaedia of cultivated orchids. Faber and
Faber, London. 

Hetherington, E. 1985. Bifoliate cattleyas - 1 - purples, pinks and
whites. American Orchid Society Bulletin 54(10):1210. 

Tanaka, R., and H. Kamemoto. 1984. Chromosomes in orchids: counting and
numbers. Appendix in Orchid biology: reviews and perspectives, vol. III.
Ed. by J. Arditti. Comstock Publishing, Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
N.Y.

Veitch, J., and Sons. [1887-1894] 1963, 1981. Manual of orchidaceous
plants, vols. I-II. James Veitch and Sons, Royal Exotic Nursery, Chelsea,
London. Reprint, vol. I, A. Asher and Co., Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
reprint, vol. II, Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, India.

Withner, C., ed. 1974. The orchids-scientific studies. J. Wiley and sons,
New York. 

Withner, C. 1988. The cattleyas and their relatives, vol. 1:the cattleyas.
Timber Press, Portland, OR. 


Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. Baker
Sheet version 6941755

.........................................................................
Please remember that this sheet is for your use only, and though it was
provided free of charge, it may not be reproduced or retransmitted in
any way without permission.
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Go Back to Free Culture Sheet Index -- Baker's Home Page

This culture sheet was provided by Charles and Margaret Baker.
Please visit their web site to find out about their Orchid Species Culture books,
Pollination Database, and culture sheet subscription service.