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Cattleya Orchid: Plant Care & Growing Guide

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How to Grow Cattleya Orchids

When many people think of orchids, they probably imagine a flower of the Cattleya genus. Cattleya orchids often have showy, fragrant blooms in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and color combinations.

Many of the species have large flowers that measure several centimeters, while others have smaller, but no less beautiful flowers. Cattleya orchids generally bloom only once a year, and the period varies by species, although some hybrids have been bred to bloom more than once.

These orchids are epiphytes, which means that they grow naturally attached to other plants, such as tree branches. Its foliage is typically a dull green color. Plants grow from pseudobulbs, which store nutrients and water.

Cattleya orchids are generally slow-growing, long-lived plants that take four to seven years to mature. The best time to plant these orchids is when new growth appears after flowering is complete. Seeds can generally be started at any time.

Botanical NameCattleya
Common NamesCattleya orchid, orchid, corsage orchid, Queen of the Orchids
Plant TypePerennial
Mature Size0.25–2 ft. tall and wide
Sun ExposurePartial
Soil TypeSoilless media, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom TimeVaries by species
Flower ColorAll colors except true blue
Hardiness Zones10–12 (USDA)
Native AreaCentral America, South America
ToxicityNontoxic

Cattleya Orchid Care

Cattleya orchids are not difficult to care for and even beginners can get them to bloom. They are beautiful indoor plants, but they can also live outdoors year-round in tropical climates and during the warmer months in areas subject to frost.

The key to growing them successfully is providing the right amount of light, maintaining the right temperature and humidity, and watering and feeding properly.

Orchids generally do not have serious problems with pests or diseases if their growing conditions are suitable. But watch out for some common houseplant pests that can damage foliage, including mealy bugs, mealybugs, and spider mites.

Also, keep an eye out for pseudobulbs (the swollen storage organs in the stems), which can provide clues to your plant's health. A plump pseudobulb indicates a happy, well-hydrated plant.

Light

These orchids need bright indirect light for optimal growth. When grown as a houseplant, the east or west-facing window that receives lots of light is ideal. However, any strong midday sun coming through the window should be diffused with a sheer curtain.

Also, orchids love the sun outdoors in the morning but should be protected from the strong afternoon sun. Cattleya orchids that don't get enough light have darker than normal foliage and often don't bloom. Orchid foliage that receives a lot of light often turns yellowish or even brown or black in some areas.

Soil

Cattleya orchids will thrive in a commercial mix made specifically for orchids. This generally includes spruce or redwood bark and potentially perlite, charcoal, coconut bark shavings, fern fiber, clay balls, gravel, and more.

When grown outdoors, Cattleya orchids can be plate-mounted, a technique in which the orchid is manually attached to a host tree. To assemble the orchid, wrap the roots in moss; tie the plant to a shelf (made of organic materials, such as logs or cork); and attach it to a branch, tree trunk, or trunk.

Water

These orchids require a moderate amount of humidity. Water whenever the substrate is dry enough; Weekly watering is usually sufficient. Do not allow orchids to remain in a constantly moist growing medium, which can cause root rot.

With each watering, water deeply so that the water splashes over the foliage and passes through the drainage holes in the container. Many growers prefer to place the orchid container in a sink to do this.

It is best to water in the morning so that the foliage has time to dry in the light. Otherwise, persistent moisture can cause mold and other diseases.

Temperature and Humidity

Cattleya orchids prefer daytime temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit and night temperatures between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower temperatures and frost can kill a plant.

Orchids can tolerate temperatures up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, although it is important that they have good air circulation and high humidity in this heat. In general, they like a humidity level between 40% and 70%.

Many growers increase the humidity around their plants by placing the orchid container in a tray filled with rocks and water. The foliage can also be foggy in the morning. Some growers have also placed a humidifier in the orchid room. Additionally, these orchids are excellent for growing in greenhouse environments.

Fertilizer

Some orchids are known to grow and even bloom for years without fertilizers. But a minimal but consistent diet will give your plant the nutrients it needs to thrive.

Many manufacturers recommend using balanced orchid fertilizers with a quarter of the weekly dose for each watering. Too much fertilizer can cause the plant to focus on foliage growth and send out stems that don't produce flowers. Too much fertilizer can also damage orchid roots.

Potting and Repotting Cattleya Orchids 

These plants do not like to have their roots disturbed, so transplant only when necessary. Once the roots are growing at the edge of the pot and/or the substrate has rotted (causing poor drainage), it is time to replant.

This usually happens every two years. Choose a slightly larger container with adequate drainage holes. Then carefully loosen the roots from the old container and shake off as much rotten growing medium as possible.

Place the orchid in the new container at the same depth it was previously grown to and pack the fresh orchid mixture around the roots.

Cattleya Orchid Varieties

There are many orchid species and hybrids within the Cattleya genus that vary in appearance and bloom time, including:

  • Cattleya labiata: Known commonly as the crimson cattleya or ruby-lipped orchid, this species is medium in size and produces big, showy blooms often in shades of pink, lilac, or white.
  • Cattleya iricolorThis species is notable for its very fragrant flowers in pale yellow or creamy white that have long, narrow petals.
  • Cattleya mossiaeThis species is known as the Easter orchid because it’s usually in bloom around Easter time.
  • Cattleya percivaliana: This species is commonly called the Christmas orchid because it blooms in fall and winter often in a pale lavender color.
  • Cattleya schroederaeThis is another species that has the common name of Easter orchid for its spring blooms; its showy flowers are up to 9 inches across.

Enjoy This Video Tutorial About How to Care for Cattleya Orchids

Source: MissOrchidGirl

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