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Acacallis cyanea Lindley

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Charles and Margaret Baker

Acacallis cyanea Lindley 

AKA: Acacallis hoehnei Schlechter, Aganisia tricolor Bateman, Aganisia
coerulea Rchb. f., Kochiophyton negrense Schlechter, Kochiophyton
coerulens Hoehne. 

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. These epiphytic plants
are found throughout the upper Amazon Basin, particularly above the
confluence of the Amazon and the Río Negro, and along the upper Río
Orinoco above Puerto Ayacucho in western Venezuela. Plants grow in the
flat, low-lying forests in areas that are completely innundated during
seasonal floods. Visitors to the habitat have reported seeing host trees
partly underwater during a flood with the Acacallis cyanea mostly under
water except for part of the rhizome, 1 or 2 of its leaves, and the

CLIMATE: Station #82331, Manaus, Brazil, Lat. 3.1S, Long. 60.0W, at 144
ft. (44 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 1500 ft. (460
m), resulting in probable extremes of 97F (36C) and 59F (15C). 

F AVG MAX        85   86   87   87   86   85   83   82   83   82   84   84
F AVG MIN        70   70   71   71   71   71   70   70   70   70   71   70
DIURNAL RANGE    15   16   16   16   15   14   13   12   13   12   13   14
RAIN/INCHES     2.3  1.5  1.8  4.2  5.6  8.0  9.8  9.1 10.3  8.7  6.7  3.3
HUMIDITY/%       75   72   70   72   74   78   79   80   80   81   80   77
BLOOM SEASON           *   **   **   **   **    *   **    *    *    *
DAYS CLR @  8AM   4    3    2    1    2    1    0    1    1    0    1    3
RAIN/MM          58   38   46  107  142  203  249  231  262  221  170   84
C AVG MAX      29.4 30.0 30.6 30.6 30.0 29.6 28.4 27.8 28.3 27.8 28.9 28.9
C AVG MIN      21.1 20.8 21.4 21.4 21.4 21.4 20.8 20.8 20.8 20.8 21.4 20.8
DIURNAL RANGE   8.3  9.2  9.2  9.2  8.6  8.2  7.6  7.0  7.5  7.0  7.5  8.1

Cultural Recommendations: 

LIGHT: 2000-3000 fc. Light should be filtered or diffused, and plants
should never be exposed to direct, mid-day sun. Strong air movement should
be provided at all times. 

TEMPERATURES: Throughout the year, days average 82-87F (28-31C), and
nights average 70-71F (21C), with a diurnal range of 12-16F (C). 

HUMIDITY: 75-80% most of the year, dropping to near 70% for about 3 months
during the dry season in late winter and early spring. 

WATER: Rainfall is moderate to heavy most of the year with a 2-3 month
somewhat dry season in winter. Cultivated plants should be kept moist
while actively growing with only slight drying allowed between waterings.
Water should be gradually reduced in late autumn. 

FERTILIZER: A balanced fertilizer mixed at 1/4-1/2 recommended strength
should be applied weekly during periods of active growth. Many growers
recommend using a fertilizer lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus
during late summer and autumn to promote better blooming the next season
and to allow the new growths to harden before winter. In order to prevent
salt buildup, the medium should be leached each month during periods of
heavy fertilizer applications. This is especially important in areas with
heavily mineralized water. Leaching is performed by watering the plant as
normal to dissolve any accumulated salts, and then an hour or so later
flushing the media with water equal to about twice the volume of the pot.

REST PERIOD: Growing conditions should be maintained all year. While
rainfall is lower in winter, some does occur each month. In addition,
heavy dews are common, so plants are not subjected to long dry periods.
Water may be reduced for cultivated plants in winter, especially those
grown in the dark, short-day conditions common in temperate latitudes.
They should not be allowed to dry out completely, however. Fertilizer
should also be reduced until water is increased in spring. 

GROWING MEDIA: These plants are best grown mounted on tree-fern slabs if
humidity is high and plants are watered at least once daily in summer.
Several waterings a day may be necessary for mounted plants during very
hot, dry periods. Because most growers find it difficult to keep mounted
plants moist enough, they may also be grown in shallow tree-fern pots or
baskets using a medium made up of equal parts of shredded tree-fern fiber
and chopped sphagnum moss. Because plants deteriorate quickly if
conditions are stale around their roots, care must be taken to keep the
medium fresh. Perlite and charcoal added to the mix helps keep the area
around the roots open and fresh. Plants should be repotted if the medium
starts to become stale and break down. Repotting is best done just as new
root growth is starting. 

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The bloom season shown in the climate table is based
on cultivation records. These plants have the reputation of being very
difficult to maintain in cultivation. In the past, most plants collected
in the wild survived for only a year or so. More recently, however, much
hardier plants, which have been grown in cultivation from seeds, are
finding their way into collections. 

Plant and Flower Information:

PLANT SIZE AND TYPE: A medium sized sympodial epiphyte that grows to about
10 in. (25 cm) tall. Growths are spaced at intervals along a slender,
prostrate, creeping rhizome. 

PSEUDOBULB: 2 in. (5 cm) long. The egg-shaped pseudobulbs are normally
glossy green. 

LEAVES: 8 in. (20 cm) long. Normally, a single, erect, leathery leaf is
carried at the top of each pseudobulb, but occasionally a growth may carry
a second one. Each elliptic leaf is very shiny green on the upper surface,
is about 3 in. (7.5 cm) wide, and has a petiolate base 

INFLORESCENCE: 12 in. (30 cm) long. The slender, erect to arching flower
spike emerges from the base of the most recently matured pseudobulbs.

FLOWERS: Up to 10 fragrant blossoms are crowded at the top of each
inflorescence. The flowers are 2.5 in. (6.3 cm) across. Some writers
indicate the sepals and petals are mauve on the outside, but are sky blue
on the inside, and are often white at their tips. The lip is white at the
base, becoming deep indigo-blue near the tip. Others have reported that
blossoms are blue-mauve, with the petals being almost blue in sunlight.
The inner surfaces have been called pale pink-flushed white, and the lip
gold-bronze or flesh-colored with a mauve-red center. Pridgeon (1992)
reported that the flowers maintain a deeper shade of blue if they are not
exposed to bright light. In their 1984 American Orchid Society Bulletin
article, the Dunstervilles reported that while the flowers are decidedly
blue when they open, the blueness rapidly takes on a tinge of pink. This
red color, normally only moderately noticeable to the eye, dominates over
the blue in the various color films they had used when photographing the



Associação orquidofila de São Paulo. 1977. Native orchids of Brasil.
Associação orquidofila de São Paulo. 

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

Hamilton, R. 1988. When does it flower? 2nd ed. Robert M. Hamilton, 9211
Beckwith Road, Richmond, B.C., Canada V6X 1V7.

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

Dunsterville, G., and E. Dunsterville. 1988 [1984]. Orchid hunting in the
lost world (and elsewhere in Venezuela). American Orchid Society, Inc.,
6000 South Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL 33405, U. S. A. Reprinted
from the article, 100 orchids (and 37 snakes) up the Orinoco. American
Orchid Society Bulletin 53(1):43-49. 

Dunsterville, G., and L. Garay. 1961. Venezuelan orchids illustrated, vol.
2. Orchid Herbarium of Oakes Ames, Botanical Museum, Harvard University,
Cambridge, Mass.

Pridgeon, A. ed. 1992. The illustrated encyclopedia of orchids. Timber
Press, Portland, OR. 


Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. Baker
Sheet version 3721153

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This culture sheet was provided by Charles and Margaret Baker.
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