Cattleya Orchids

Cattleya Orchids

Cattleya orchids are a variety of orchid plants that produce large, brightly colored flowers. These plants are native epiphytes, or tree-growing plants, in the tropical climates of Central and South America. Known as the most variable form of the flower, Cattleyas are most typically the traditional bright purple hue; however, you can also find them in a rainbow of other colors with the exception of black or dark blue.

Why are they called Cattleya orchards?

English botanist and orchidologist John Lindley named the genus in 1824 after his friend William Cattley, who was a horticulturalist. Cattley had obtained the then unnamed orchid varietal that had been discovered in Pernambuco, Brazil, in 1817 and grew the first cultivated bloom of this orchid.

What is the recommended care advice for growing Cattleya orchids?
  • Potting medium: Since Cattleya orchids are epiphytes in nature, they grow in media with no soil, such as in rocks, bark, and perlite. These materials help to mimic the orchids native conditions. Repot your plants every two to three years so that the potting medium will drain properly. Trim overflowing roots with clean shears. Use clay pots with this kind of orchid.
  • Temperature: During the day, Cattleyas should be in a high temperature range between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler night temperatures help prompt bud growth and overall plant health.
  • Humidity: Grow the plant in medium to high humidity between 45% and 70%. Use a humidifier or place the pot on a saucer with gravel and water to promote evaporation.
  • Light: These orchids require bright but indirect sunlight. Leaves should be a medium green color. Light is necessary in order for Cattleyas to blossom.
  • Watering: The potting medium should be allowed to dry out between waterings. If you are not sure whether to water or not, wait a day. Large Cattleyas generally require water every 7 to 10 days. Plants should never be allowed to stand in water.
  • Feeding: Use low-nitrogen fertilizer such as a 13-13-13 during active growth periods. Pots should be washed with regular water between feedings to prevent salt buildup.
What are the benefits of Cattleya flowers?

The Cattleya has been known as the "Queen of the Orchids" because their blooming flowers are very striking and colorful. Besides enjoying blooming flowers naturally on a plant or in your garden, blossoms of this species can be used in floral arrangements, wedding bouquets, leis, and corsages. Specimens can last for several weeks to a month. They are also known to give off a pleasant fragrance.