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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.  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 ......................................................................... 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