It is one of the most popular orchids in Costa Rica and has even been recognized as a national flower Higgins in It is one of the most popular orchids in Costa Rica and has even been recognized as a national flower. These plants are usually found in damp mountain forests, ranging from sea level up to a height of about m, but also occur on higher-lying rocks, where rainfall is higher and evaporation is lower. It is a medium sized, bifoliate epiphyte, which reaching a height of 50 cm, with fusiform to clavate, 35 cm long, sometimes up to 50 cm long pseudobulbs carrying 2, apical, oblong to elliptic, obtuse to acute, 20 cm long and about 5 cm wide leaves.
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Although we often dedicate this feature to somewhat obscure or little known orchids, here we will cover a species that is very well known and deserves to be in every orchid collection.
While still called Cattleya skinneri by many, Guarianthe skinneri was segregated out of Cattleya by Dressler and Higgins, along with other Central American cattleyas, in In a rather lengthy dedication to the honoree, George Ure Skinner, Bateman closes by saying, "…we can therefore do no more than select some species which may not do discredit to his name, and we confess we are unable to conceive one better fitted for our purpose than the magnificent Cattleya represented in the accompanying plate.
His contribution to science has been acknowledged by the names of a number of other orchids including the equally fabulous Lycaste skinneri. The range of Guarianthe skinneri extends from the southern Mexican border into Costa Rica where it is the national flower. There it is known as "Guaria Morada" and plays a role in local folk tradition. Plants are typically found in humid forests at moderate elevations growing on trees or rocks. There are a number of color forms in addition to the typical orchid-lavender, notably alba and coerulea.
Albas are often not true alba and have some pigment deep in the throat. Colors of the hybrid are variable and range from coral through cream-colored. One could make an impressive collection of nothing but the two species and the natural hybrid.
As you might expect with such a popular orchid, Gur. Of course, one of the most attractive characteristics of this orchid is that even un-awarded examples can put on a spectacular display.
In we hosted an out of town couple who were in Florida for the 11th World Orchid Conference. She was then an AOS judge and had met her recently wed husband at an orchid society meeting in Louisiana. She recounted seeing an early plant he brought to a society meeting, a Gur. With a laugh, she recounted telling him that a well-flowered Gur.
For the hobbyist with little experience, that is not a difficult goal to achieve with this orchid. While standard "cattleya culture" will do fine for growing Gur. This is an orchid from low to moderate elevations and requires warm to intermediate conditions.
Like any orchid culture, individual growing conditions will dictate actual cultural factors. Grow plants on a wet-to-dry cycle in spring and summer with regular fertilizing every week. We find that this species does better in a coarse, fast draining medium. In years past we used coarse tree fern but now use Styrofoam peanuts or chunks of hardwood charcoal not briquettes!
You can also use aggregates such as lava rock or large Aliflor, just be sure to flush pots with clean water regularly to prevent salt buildup. Early on we learned that flower production was much improved with Gur. Increasing light at this time improved not only flower count, but richness of color. Of course this makes sense. Plants from deciduous forests receive more light in winter. How much more? Whereas leaf color should normally be a nice grass green, providing enough winter light to turn leaves yellow-green without burning is optimal.
For those who live in temperate areas, plants will appreciate the summer outdoors in a location providing bright, filtered light.
This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in Spanish. December Click [show] for important translation instructions. View a machine-translated version of the Spanish article. Machine translation like DeepL or Google Translate is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia. Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality.
Guarianthe skinneri care and culture
Guarianthe skinneri (Bateman) Dressler & W.E.Higgins