With all the countless types and species of the infamous orchid, the Cattleya is the only one commonly referred to as the ‘Queen of Orchids’. This is probably due to another Cattleya title, the ‘corsage orchid.
The beauty and grand appearance of this delicate orchid has pushed it to the top of everyone’s list when it comes to bouquets, corsages, floral arrangements and beautiful flower decorations for all occasions. And lets not forget to mention the oh so fragrant blooms that arrive in many colors, but the most common are orange, pink and the infamous white Cattleya.
Cattleya can be difficult to raise, but with a slight twist to our guidelines of caring for our orchids many have wonderful success with growing this particular orchid as well. With just a little care and attention this orchid will be very happy in your garden or home.
Like the Phalaenopsis, this orchid is also epiphytic (air plant) which means that the plant will cling from the bark of another tree, telephone pole or even the side of a building, leaving the roots exposed to breathe the air. They are not parasites to that which they cling to, Cattleya derives the needed nutrients from the air, moisture and the bits of debris that form around them.
This orchid will flourish with bright light for around half of each day, but as with many of its ‘cousins’ be sure to avoid much direct sunlight, especially in the middle of the day. A good measuring point is by observing the color of the leaves, try to maintain a medium green color. As with other orchids if the leaves turn dark green you will need more light and vice versa if the leaves are a pale green.
As mentioned earlier they fall into the epiphytic family. This means that they store water in their pseudobulbs as well as their roots which are rather large. The plant should be allowed to dry out almost completely before watering again. With in-home conditions being correct this should be approximately once per week, maybe a little more often during the growing season.
You will need to have humidity at a minimum of 50%, more favorable would be towards 80%. If this is a problem in your home you can always utilize a humidity tray for added humidity. This humidity level should be maintained with the daytime temperature range between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime temperature should drop to somewhere between 60 degrees at the lowest, more desirably between 65 and 68 degrees. Just bear in mind with these temperature fluctuations to maintain proper humidity levels.
If you are fairly new with maintaining you new Cattleya, please do not make the common mistake of applying too much fertilizer. It will need to be on a regular basis, but no more than once per month. The only exception would be during the growing season where once every 2 weeks will work out just fine. Please do research on proper fertilizers, if you have your Cattleya potted in bark it will definitely need a higher than normal amount of nitrogen. To maintain a strong plant with wonderful blooms make sure your fertilizer has a healthy amount of potassium and phosphorus included in the formula.
By following these guidelines your Cattleya will be grateful and reward you with wonderful blooms full of fragrance and radiant colors. As is true with other species in the orchid family… always remember that over watering, direct sunlight and too much fertilizer will surely destroy your plant quickly. We certainly do not want that, just follow the steps above and all will be well.
With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...