Cycnoches Orchid, the Swan Orchid

Cycnoches Orchid, the Swan Orchid

Cycnoches orchid is a unique orchid genus of sympodial epiphytic orchid plants. Find out why it’s a hot item among seasoned orchid hobbyists.

Fast Facts Cycnoches Orchids

Botanical Name: Cycnoches (sik-NO-keys)
Abbreviation: Cyc.
Common Name or nickname: Swan orchids
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Subtribe: Catasetinae
Number of recognized species: 34 to 39 recognized orchid species, depending on the source 
Origin:  South America, Central America, and southern Mexico
Blooming season: Fall and spring 
Color: Cycnoches orchids produce blooms in deep red, bronze, green, pink, yellow, and white.
Growing classification:  Epiphytic, sympodial

Origin Cycnoches Orchids

Cycnoches orchid is considered a taxonomically complicated orchid genus by experts. These orchid plants are native to most parts of tropical America, from southern Mexico to southern Brazil and Bolivia. An epiphytic genus of sympodial orchids, Cycnoches orchids are typically found thriving in warm, moist open canopy of trees in tropical forests or as terrestrials on logs.

According to the American Orchid Society, the genus name comes from two Greek words that mean swan and neck.

Cycnoches Orchid Plant Description

Closely related to the Catasetum genus, Cycnoches orchids also produce distinct male and female flowers with the sporadic appearance of intermediate, hermaphroditic forms. Through time, they have evolved for the pollination by a specific kind of bees, the Euglossine bees. However, commercially, Cycnoches orchids are largely propagated from seed or by tissue culture. They can also be propagated by separating the pseudobulbs.

Cycnoches orchids are also known as the swan orchids because of the appearance of the sculpture-like lip and column in orchid species, particularly the Cycnoches ventricosum and Cycnoches loddigesii, which ultimately looks like a little swan with folded wings and a long neck curved backward.

Cycnoches orchid blooms with fancy and impressive flowers that come in a variety of colors ranging from yellow, bronze, deep red, green, and white. These orchid plants are seasonal. The first flowering occurs after the orchid plant is fully grown, which usually happens after six months, in the fall season. The second flowering happens sometime in winter to early springtime.

List of Cycnoches Orchids Species

The Cycnoches genus has two subgenera sections:

  • Eucycnoches – few but larger orchid blooms
  • Heteranthae – smaller but thicker raceme inflorescence

As of July 2009, the AOS said that the World Monocot Checklist contains 39 accepted names of Cycnoches orchid species. Here are some of what we’ve found:

  • Cycnoches aureum Lindl. & Paxton
  • Cycnoches barthiorum G.F.Carr & Christenson (1999) - Colombia
  • Cycnoches bennettii Dodson (1989) - Peru
  • Cycnoches brachydactylon Schltr. (1924) - Colombia
  • Cycnoches carrii Christenson (1999) - Peru
  • Cycnoches chlorochilon Klotzsch (1838) - Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, French Guiana
  • Cycnoches christensonii D.E.Benn. (1998) - Peru
  • Cycnoches cooperi Rolfe (1913) - Peru, Brazil
  • Cycnoches densiflorum Rolfe (1909) - Colombia
  • Cycnoches dianae Rchb.f. (1852) - Panama
  • Cycnoches egertonianum Bateman (1842) - southern Mexico, Central America
  • Cycnoches farnsworthianum D.E.Benn. & Christenson (2001) - Peru
  • Cycnoches glanduliferum Rolfe (1892) - southern Mexico, Central America
  • Cycnoches guttulatum Schltr. (1922) - Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama
  • Cycnoches haagii Barb.Rodr. (1881) - from Colombia to French Guiana, south to Bolivia and Brazil
  • Cycnoches herrenhusanum Jenny & G.A.Romero (1991) - Colombia, Ecuador
  • Cycnoches jarae Dodson & D.E.Benn. (1989) - Peru
  • Cycnoches lehmannii Rchb.f. (1878) - Ecuador, Peru
  • Cycnoches loddigesii Lindl. (1832) - from Colombia to French Guiana, south to Brazil
  • Cycnoches lusiae G.A.Romero & Garay (1999) - Venezuela
  • Cycnoches maculatum Lindl. (1840) - Colombia, Venezuela
  • Cycnoches manoelae P.Castro & Campacci (1993) - Brazil
  • Cycnoches pachydactylon Schltr. (1922) - Nicaragua, Panama
  • Cycnoches pentadactylon Lindl. (1843) - Peru, Brazil
  • Cycnoches peruvianum Rolfe (1891) - Ecuador, Peru
  • Cycnoches powellii Schltr. (1922) - Panama
  • Cycnoches quatuorcristis D.E.Benn. (1992) - Peru
  • Cycnoches rossianum Rolfe (1891) - Costa Rica
  • Cycnoches schmidtianum Christenson & G.F.Carr (2001) - Peru
  • Cycnoches stenodactylon Schltr. (1922) - Panama
  • Cycnoches suarezii Dodson (1989) - Ecuador
  • Cycnoches thurstoniorum Dodson (1989) - Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador
  • Cycnoches ventricosum Bateman (1838) - Mexico, Central America
  • Cycnoches warszewiczii Rchb.f. (1852) - Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama

Orchid Care: How to Grow and Maintain Cycnoches Orchids

Although these orchid plants prefer the sanctuary of thick tropical rainforests, there are some Cycnoches orchid species and orchid hybrids that can adapt indoors. Cycnoches chlorochilon is a good example, which boasts of having the largest orchid blooms (up to 5 inches in radius) n all of the Cycnoches genus. It also comes with a sweet vanilla scent.

Follow these practical orchid care tips for a healthy Cycnoches orchid at home. Also Read: How to Maintain Your Orchids Indoors


  • Cycnoches orchid brighter light, somewhere around 1000-3000 footcandles.
  • Bright light encourages the growth of female flowers, while lower light conditions produce male flowers.


  • Water generously in springtime when new growth starts to sprout.
  • Reduce watering once your Cycnoches orchid has started to bloom.
  • Maintain good moisture and air movement, especially during summer months when spider mites, the number one enemy of Cycnoches orchid, start to attack.

Potting requirements

  • Cycnoches orchid plants are best grown in fine fir bark or New Zealand sphagnum moss in clay pots.
  • The AOS suggests hanging these orchid plants in pots or mounts for optimal air movement, which is essential for healthy orchid plant growth.
  • However, remember that mounted plants will require more frequent watering – two or more times per day in the hottest season.
  • It’s highly recommended to repot your Cycnoches orchid every year or when a new growth starts.


  • Apply a well-balanced or high-nitrogen orchid fertilizer while the orchid plants are in growth.
  • Do your feeding weekly after each watering session.

Orchid dormancy

  • In wintertime or after they lose their leaves, Cycnoches orchids require a strict dry period. Do not water or fertilize during this time.

Orchid Shopping Tips

When shopping for orchid plants, make sure it’s your last stop if you’re running around with other errands to reduce the stress – for the plant and on your part, too. Plants suffer from shock and damage, such as wilted or bruised flowers when they’re not transported properly.

A convenient solution would be to have it delivered right to your doorstep. Orchid Republic offers customizable floral subscription packages and flower delivery in Los Angeles and Orange County.

Located on Sherman Oaks and with a well-equipped flower delivery van, we can guarantee that your orchid plants and flower arrangements would get to you looking fresh and fabulous always.



American Orchid Society
Swan Orchid, SF Gate 
Jay's Internet Orchid Species

Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic Plants, by William Cullina, 2004

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