Catasetum is a genus of about 70 species of orchids, native to Latin America and West Indies.

The plants have large, fat cigar shaped pseudo bulbs, with up to 10 large deciduous large leaves.

After a short dormancy, that can lasts from one week to a few months, the active new growth period commences.

Life begins with a new growth and during the period of active growing, Catasetums require a lot of water and heavy fertilization.

When dormancy approaches and the leaves will start to turn yellow and fall. During dormancy, watering must also slow down and stopped. Moisture is only required when the pseudobulbs are showing signs of stress (“shriveling”). It is possible for Catasetums no to lose their leaves, in other words, they do not go dormant. In this case, the plants are watered during the winter season but less frequent. In some species, flowering also occurs at the end of the dormancy; however, most species flower towards the end of the season, before dormancy. Very late flowering, as late as during dormancy has been observed.

The flower stems emerge from the basis of the pseudobulbs and usually carry numerous flowers that are dimorphic, either male or female.

The male Catasetum flowers are beautiful but unfortunately have a short life, last only a few days. The male flowers are larger and much better looking and have the ability to eject their pollina up to 2 meters away from the plant.

The female flowers are smaller and not as impressive looking.

Catasetums tolerate a wide range of light and temperature. Many growers believe that light induces the development of female flowers and when there is no much light, the plant produces only male flowers. Allegedly, normally there is only one stem with female flower for every 3 male flower stems.

Be aware that Catasetums are susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases as well as attacks from pests like snails, spider mites, etc. I also found that “rust” attacks the leaves.

If you are interested in Catasetums and you would like to grow a few, check out what other orchid growers grow and do in your area.

The American Orchid Society has also some info online.