At one time the Cattleya orchid was considered the perfect corsage flower for special events. It is still a popular choice for gardeners due to its beauty. They are fairly easy to grow and thus considered a good orchid for beginners. A good place to get additional growing tips is on the AOS Website.
Though originally only available in white or shades of pink and lavender; this orchid can now be found in a wide spectrum of colors. There are many species and hybrids available so you can find plants in sizes as varied as six inches to five feet tall.
The Cattleya orchid requires a lot of sunshine but not high temperatures. They also need high humidity, preferably 45 to 60%. If you are not in a climate with these conditions you’ll need to raise your plants in a pot or a greenhouse.
They do best in temperatures around 55 degrees at night and 75 to 85 degrees during the day. In high humidity they can endure higher temps.
If the leaves on your plant are too yellow it means the plant is getting too much light. Dark green leaves indicate not enough light.
These plants do well in eastern or western exposure. If they are in direct southern exposure it needs to be slightly shaded.
Cattleya orchids do best when planted in chopped fir bark though other media such as lava rock, gravel or coconut husk chips can also be used. Consult your local nursery if you’re unsure of what to use.
Slotted orchid pots that drain are the best option. If not, consider filling one third of the pot with Styrofoam peanuts to allow for drainage.
Pots should be big enough to allow for at least two years growth but not much larger.
Moisten the bark or potting medium you’re using before placing the plants in the pot.
Be sure to remove dead roots from your plant before placing it in pot. Loosen the roots so they are not bound too tightly.
In general, plants should be potted when new root growth begins.
Cattleya orchids can grow for several years without fertilizer. Though adding fertilizer can be beneficial it’s important not to over feed these plants. A diluted, low nitrogen solution is best. Then use plain water for the next watering to allow the plants to fully drain.
Watering too much or too little will damage or kill your orchid.
Once a week is a good baseline but you must be aware of other conditions. Younger plants need to be watered more often than mature plants. Direct sunlight and low humidity will result in your plants needing to be watered more often. The type of potting material used also affects how quickly they’ll feel dry.
These orchids do best if their soil is allowed to dry out before they are watered again.
These plants will recover quicker from under watering than over watering so when in doubt – don’t water.
Cattleya orchids can flower for many years if they are cared for properly. Their flowers will add a touch of elegance to any home or garden.