The Cattleya tribe includes the Genus of Brassavola, Cattleya, Epidendrum, Laelia, Schomburgkia, and Sophronitis to name a few.
(The Orchid Queen)
How to keep your Cattleya’s healthy!
Cattleyas and their relatives are epiphytes, naturally growing on rocks and trees. They store water and nutrients in a structure called the pseudobulbs. Their root system is large in comparison to the plant. The roots produce a velamen (the white silvery color of the root) that retains water for absorption by the plant. They bloom on the mature new growth of the orchid. A Cattleya can bloom up to three times a year in a greenhouse environment, however in the home they will bloom once to twice a year.
Light: Moderate to bright indirect light. Ideally, early morning direct light as in an east window. West windows are good provided direct sun is not on the orchid. Evening sun is okay. A south window with defused light or away from the direct sunlight is also fine. The foliage should be medium green color, indicating the orchid is getting enough light to flower.
Temperature: The ideal temperature during the day is 75 to 85°F. Higher temperatures to 98°F will require less light and more air movement to prevent sunburn on the leaves. Night temperatures can range from 50-60°F. Some hybrids can tolerate colder temperatures in dry environments to 45°F, but this practice is not recommended.
Watering: Watering should be done in the morning hours. You can water heavy overhead, or soak potted orchid in the sink for ten minutes. In cold areas, the water temperature should not be below 45°F. Watering with ice cubes in NOT recommended. Water is an essential nutrient for plant development. In moderate light water once a week in winter, and twice a week in summer. This may need to be increased in bright light conditions. When in doubt, check the bottom of the pot, if it looks dry, then water.
Special note: Orchids in decorative containers should be watered once a week with 1/3 cup of water. Allow 1-5 minutes of soaking, then tilt container to drain excess.
Feeding: Cattleyas are moderate feeders and require fertilizing at least every third watering. Use Gubler’s Pro Blend Orchid Food 19-8-16. This formula is exactly what we use to grow our Cattleyas. By feeding at least every third watering, you will be feeding more during the longer days of summer when the orchid requires more water, and less in the shorter days of winter.
Repotting: Should be done once every 12 to 18 months. It is best to repot after the Cattleya is done flowering. Plants that have overgrown their container should be potted into a suitable container the next size larger. You may choose any container, provided it has good bottom drainage. We do not recommend pots with slits on the side. Transplant using Gubler’s Orchid Grow Mix Coarse Grade for containers four inch or larger, and our Fine grade for seedlings in three inch pots or smaller.
What to expect: Cattleyas flowers have been used in corsages for decades. Most everyone has given or received a Cattleya corsage. Flowers come in many colors and shapes. The flower size can range from a quarter inch to over ten inches. Most Cattleyas we hybridize should bloom twice a year, producing two to three flowers per stem. Flowers should last approximately three to four weeks, depending on your growing conditions. Many Cattleya hybrids have a delightful fragrance. The life span of a Cattleya can be over one hundred years. They are a good beginner orchid, and make a wonderful addition to any orchid collection.