The taxonomic status of the genus Schomburgkia has long been debated and could once be divided into two distinctly different groups, based on morphological traits. One of these groups, which was later transferred to Myrmecophila, displays hollow pseudobulbs and can usually be found in association with ants. They could normally be distinguished from the second group based on their branched inflorescences. The second group produces swollen pseudobulbs without cavities, and flower terminally, without any branching. While the first group is now recognised as Myrmecophila, the second has been moved between Schomburgkia and Laelia.
The genus Schomburgkia can be found at elevations of between 400 and 1000 meters, in Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana and Ecuador. They grow as epiphytes on both trees and cacti, but can also be found as litophytes. The species are infamous for their strong resistance to direct sun, cold temperatures, drought and pests, such as mealy bugs and are therefore often used as parent plants when breeding for resistance. The growth cycle of the genus is clearly defined by a long dry season, which stretches from July to the end of November or early December. The wet season starts at the end of December and initiates flowering by January. Other genera, such as Catasetum and Cyrtochilum, can also be found flowering at the same time.
Due to the strong adaptability and resistance of the genus we grow Schomburkia species both in our nursery in Guayaquil, where temperatures range from 19-37⁰C, and at 2,200 m altitude in Gualaceo, where night temperatures can drop as far as to 2⁰C. Specimens of Schomburgkia splendida grown in these two nurseries show great variations in gene expression, due to the differing environmental conditions. The cooler temperatures and stronger light levels at high altitudes result in thicker flowers and more intense colours, something that can also be observed in the Cattleya maxima populations growing in the mountains. Schomburgkias are however usually considered warm to intermediate growers.
The Schomburgkias are very tolerant of different cultivation techniques, but grow well in clay pots with a growing medium consisting of large grade bark. They produce long rhizomes, so should be afforded enough space in the pots. Ideal light levels approximate those of the Cattleyas and the frequent summer watering should be reduced slightly during the early winter months. They are heavy feeders and prefer frequent applications of low concentration fertiliser. The feeding regime can be reduced alongside the watering during the drier months. At Ecuagenera we use a slow release fertiliser, which we apply at the rate of 1 bottle cap of feed granules per 9 cm pot. This dose will last for about 4 months, unless the plant is growing in a warmer and wetter environment, where the feed will be released more quickly.