Cattleyas are some of the most commonly grown orchids. The Cattleya group consists of plants from several genera. These include Cattleya, Laelia, Brassavola, Sophronitis, and epidendrum, as well as several others. When these inter-generic crosses are made, we end up with a plant such as Laeliacattleya (LC). Like most other orchids, they grow in trees in nature, and their roots are accustomed to being dry between watering. For this reason, they are potted in very porous, free-draining media, the most popular being fir bark.
CATTLEYA ORCHID CARE
It is one of the most important factors in growing and blooming cattleyas. Bright light with some sun should be provided, but no direct sun in the middle of the day. As east, shaded south (as with a sheer curtain) or west window is best. Leaves should be a medium green color. Excellent results have been obtained under fluorescent lights, too.
There are two ways to provide water: in the pot by watering and in the air by humidity. A mature cattleya should be allowed to dry out between watering. The weight of the pot is a good indicator of the plant’s need for water. Plants in active growth need more water than plants that are resting. Water temperature should feel tepid to the touch. Humidity levels should be between 50-70%. This can be provided by placing plants together or on gravel trays partially filled with water, so the plants stand above the water. Misting may be helpful in the morning.
Cattleyas are most comfortable at 55-60 degrees at night and 70-85 degrees during the day. Higher daytime temps up to 95 degrees can be tolerated if humidity, air circulation, and shading are increased. All orchids benefit from good air circulation at all times as they grow in trees in nature.
If grown in the bark, a 30-10-10 formulation is best with occasional use of a bloom booster such as 10-30-20. In other media, a balanced fertilizer is best. Orchids are not generally heavy feeders and need very little fertilizer during the winter months.
POTTING CATTLEYA ORCHIDS
It is necessary before the plant begins to grow over the edge of the pot. It is best to repot in the spring just before new growth starts. Bark usually breaks down in 2-3 years and should be replaced during repotting. Select a pot that will allow 2 years of growth before crowing happens.
OTHER ORCHID SUGGESTIONS
NOBILE DENDROBIUM ORCHIDS – The Nobile Dendrobium orchid is a genus of the Dendrobium orchids. Dendrobiums are native to the far east and grow epiphytically on tree branches from the warm lowlands to the cool highlands up to 4000 feet. Kept dry, they can survive in winter down to 35 degrees. Most blooming occurs from February to April.
ONCIDIUM ORCHIDS – Oncidium orchids have been nicknamed the Dancing Lady Orchids, and once you see a flower, you know why. Their blooms resemble a tiny dancer with a colorful outfit. Oncidiums are a relatively small plant and may bloom when planted in a smaller pot.
PAPHIOPEDILUM ORCHIDS – Paphiopedilums or “paphs” are very easy to grow. They remain compact in their growth habit and have attractive foliage with long-lasting flowers in a wide range of colors. Although classed as terrestrials, they do not really grow in the ground. Rather, they grow in a layer of decaying vegetation found on the forest floor. It is helpful to know where an orchid grows in nature to more easily duplicate these conditions in our home or greenhouse. Shop City Floral Garden Center in Denver, CO, for the best orchid selection!