With the experience, I found out that the best way to cultivate Catasetum is to use a transparent container with water on the bottom. It means, PET. And it also showed me that tree fern fiber is not the best compost for Catasetum.
Coconut fiber is. It gives great results.
Soon, we got the ecological nursery: recycling domestic waste of very very slow decomposition (PET) and using discards of coconut fiber after drinking the water.
New experiments and the orchid searches after its supply of calcium, potassium and another nutrients directly on the bone!

A clump of Cattleya labiata on a cow 'sambiquira' (bone cow)
The esthetic result was put on doubt and the bone (ox bone, of course!) went inside the PET, disguised as compost. And the roots of Catasetum, Cattleya violacea, even the micro-orchids, surround it firmly. The flowers show more substance, last more. The leaves are bigger, stronger. And the plants used to bloom twice a year!

The "ouriço" (chestnut bur) of castanha-do-Pará, discarded by the collectors of the almonds became an attractive container to orchids.
Perfect for cultivating micro-orchids and small "catasetinea". As organic, besides to be a pot, it also acts as fertilizer.

The turtles of the lake need sand for reproducing and spawning so an artificial small beach was created. The space soon became a "violet nursery", taking advantage of the luminosity and the humidity of the lake, shared with the alligators and turtles.
During the dry months, from May to September, the 'Capuchin monkey' (Cebus apella) a noisy and curious flock attend regularly and explore every corner of the property. Catasetum pseudobulbs are succulent! They become basic item of the menu. The clamp of Rodriguezia lanceolata on the guava tree was literally cooked by the urine of those primates. Nowadays, five flocks of different species take turns to visit the property, looking for a safe place to playing and have food. They are: Sagüi (Callithrix), quatar,zogue-zogue (Callicebus), Capuchin monkey and Red Howler (Alouatta seniculus).
The result of the space reserved for the Cattleya violacea showed us the way!
The orchids love the "trio" luminosity/humidity/ventilation, the lake should be better explored.
Recreation boats which anchored around the river islands of the region, called floating, showed the inspiration.
In May, we built the first nursery over the water as far as we know: A floating nursery.

A floating nursery, cultivate orchids is a trip!
Entrance - outside view

In the staging in the middle of the floating nursery, the orchids in flowers.

However before that, the property became place searched for visitation, photos, strolls, school picnics...
Since 2002, we developed a regular program of environment education. Schools bring their pupils in small groups of, more or less, twenty.
They stroll, observe free animals living together with us, admire wonderful orchids in flower, get knowledge about ecology, environmental preservation and finish with a snack.
Orchids are our passion (the whole united family). We can't get away from the affective value we aggregate that is why is not our target to sell them.

Dimerandra emarginata

Plectrophora iridifolia

Trizeuxis falcata

Scaphiglottys violacea (Scgl graminfolia)

Wine Delight 'Jem' FCC/AOS

Coryanthes vieirae

Encyclia cordigera

Spathoglottis plicatta

Nowadays we are inscribed in the program of tourism and city-tour of the local government, with remunerated strolls which is not only for admiring orchids but also a very big collection of Cactaceae, Heliconiaceae, Araceae and animals.

Animals became another legend: our "endowment" for living with snakes. We two snake-pets, in fact two mascots which walking around the nursery looking for tree-fogs for satiating hunger. There is also the story of a huge python (three meters!), which freedom has been ransomed for R$ 10,00 (at about US$ 4,00).
There is also 'leca', an albino fog-tree which constrained us to dislodge an orchid, just letting a drainage on the bottom of the container with a supply of water to keep it fresh. It is living there for months... beautiful, isn't it?
And thus, Recanto das Orquídeas property (Orchids Corner), in Alta Floresta-Mato Grosso, 800km far from Cuiabá, is an ecological sanctuary. Since 17:00hs, we can have, sitting down on the floating nursery, inhaling magnificent perfumes of orchids and seeing it fantastic colors, an incredible vision of thousands of 'garças' (Ardea bird) coming for overnight staying. The tree chosen becomes white pure, the uproar starts lightly with the firsts birds and increases when numerous flocks lodge themselves, and decreases as the night falls. And if you look the same trees at dawn, by 5 o'clock, you will think everything was a dream: quietly, the birds went away with the first twinkling of day, looking for their food adventures of insects to taste. But this show has a term: the flood is starting, the Pantanal calls them for the reproducing period which is beginning. In November, just a few will be here. In December, only the photos will recall the souvenirs ... however in July, they will be back.

Garças (Ardea) - a show to vie with the orchids. In a little more than
30 minutes (from 6 pm to three past 6) the tree changes it color.

Precious tips to cultivate Catasetum by Apolonia Grade

Compost: if possible, use coconut fiber, however the tanine should be removed before. You should be soaked in water and change the water for many days, until the water is not red any more. Tree fern fiber does not allow the best development for the plant.
Container: use PET or transparent jars bought at packaging stores. Remember let a place to water at the bottom of the container, at least, 5 cm depth.
Drainage: The best if clay roof tiles shivers. Rock crusher varies in composition, sometimes acid, sometime more alkaline, it changes the final pH.
Fertilizer: As soon as the roots start in the new pseudobulbs, apply a support fertilization. I use 'osmocote' 14-14-14, of slowly liberation, a tea spoon for each PET. It can also be organic such as bocashi. This procedure is fundamental to guarantee the vigor of the pseudobulb in formation and giving the plant the conditions to have a blooming in its maximum potential.
Watering: Never sprinkle water on the sprout or on the young leaves. It is the weakness of catasetum, the great "causa mortis" of this genus. Water well the compost and keep the water on the bottom of the container while the sprout grows.
Luminosity: Full sun, you will have incidence of female bloom. 50% shade guarantee many inflorescence carrying male flowers - which the desirable by the shape and the colors, with some female flowers or even hermaphrodite. 70% shade, you will only have male flowers.
The best place to place your catasetum
: High in the nursery!!! Hanged !
Never let your catasetum on the staging, put it hanged. The ideal is let 1,5 m gap between the plant and the roof, supplying a good ventilation.
During the dormancy period, after leaves drop, let the plant in a dry and well ventilated place. Do not soak, just slightly moisten the compost weekly. Never fertilize a plant during the period neither repot it. Wait for the sprout and the firsts roots, then water abundantly, fertilize, or repot, or divide... it means, the cultural cares.

That is the way I do!


Photos: René Rocha

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