Cattleya is one of the most popular varieties among orchid lovers. She has the most beautiful, unique flowers, for which she is even called the “Queen of Orchids”. Cattleya is ideal for growing at home, but in order for it to take root, you need to know some rules of care. With this knowledge, you will have a wonderful home decoration for a long time.
Cattleya (Cattleya Orchids) is the largest group of flowering perennials. They grow mainly in the rainforests of South America, although they are grown all over the world, and as a species they are very adaptive. To survive on overcrowded forest soil, the Cattleya has adapted to life on tree trunks and rocks.
We can say that the Cattleya looks like an exemplary orchid. It usually has 3 narrow sepals and 3 wider petals. The lip or labellum (lowest petal) usually has a different color and shape from the rest of the flower. The leaves may be oblong, lanceolate or elliptical, somewhat fleshy, with a smooth margin. The inflorescence, representing a brush with several flowers, can reach 5-25 cm.
Cattleya flowers are usually pleasantly scented. Flowering can occur 1-2 times a year, and it lasts about a month. The first flowering will occur about 4-7 years after the seed is planted, if it has never bloomed before. With proper care, the plant can be grown indefinitely, and it will bloom year after year.
Cattleya is a focus for collectors and gardeners, with new hybrids appearing almost every year. You can find varieties in any color spectrum and a wide range of sizes. Each variety has its own growth and flowering habits, so the following information on some of the more commonly grown species is quite general and serves as an example.
Cattleya aclandiae. It is a delightful dwarf variety with bright flowers but has a reputation for being difficult to grow. The short stem has 1-2 flowers 7-10 cm wide. Often it gives new shoots and inflorescences 2 times a year – in May and June.
Cattleya amethystoglossa. This species has a wide variety of colors, blooms anywhere from early spring to mid-summer. You will need a tall, very bright window to house this orchid because it can be up to 1m tall.
Cattleya dowiana. Sepals and petals are yellow; the middle lobe of the lip is wide and widening, with a velvety texture, crimson-purple in color with stripes of gold veins. On a bush, 2-7 flowers usually grow, 12-17 cm in diameter.
Cattleya gaskelliana. The flowers are large – from 15 cm, the color varies from amethyst-purple to pure white. The lip is quite large, with the same color as the petals and sepals, the petal is dark purple with a pale border. Blooms from mid-June to early September. A good variety for lovers.
Cattleya walkeriana. Unlike other cultivars, the flowers of Cattleya walkeriana do not grow from the top of the pseudobulb, but on separate short, thin shoots that grow directly from the rhizome. Flowers up to 11 cm in diameter, from bright pink-violet to pale pink-lilac. The blooming season changes from autumn to spring.
Cattleya intermedia. They have an average height (about 40 cm) and leaves 15 cm long. Its fragrant flowers of a light pink hue with a contrasting dark purple lip reach a considerable size – 15 cm.
Planting and growing conditions
The most diverse substrate is used for planting Cattleya: chopped bark, fern fibers, coconut husks and even sphagnum moss. Shredded bark is most commonly chosen by growers, although more open media such as tree fern fiber or inorganic media such as expanded clay pellets may be a better choice in very humid, hot areas.
To improve the properties of the substrate, you can mix it with a small amount of charcoal or peat. The substrate should be moistened before use, if possible. Soaking helps reduce dust and makes it easier for beginners to know when to water the flower for the first time.
In addition to suitable soil, well-drained pots rely on cattleyas. Of the materials, plastic and glass are best suited, some advise planting the plant in a transparent vessel. Choose a container large enough to allow for two years of growth, but keep in mind that orchids like to “live” in cramped spaces.
After preparation, you can start landing:
- Pour some drainage into the bottom of the pot (crushed stone, broken brick, polystyrene, etc.).
- Position the plant so that the base of the root is against the edge of the pot.
- Evenly and firmly pour and tamp the substrate around the roots, making sure that there are no voids.
Also, when growing, it is important to consider the following factors:
- air humidity;
- illumination and shadow;
Probably the most difficult task is to maintain optimal humidity.
Cattleyas feel best when the air humidity is 40-70%. Therefore, it is important to additionally moisturize the environment, especially during the day. This can be achieved in several ways: with a special humidifier, and in greenhouses with evaporative coolers. For small collections, it is enough to put the pot on a saucer filled with pebbles and half filled with water. It will gradually evaporate, and periodically you will have to add it.
A good humidifier, correctly connected to both the humidistat and the thermostat, is an almost indispensable device for a greenhouse, especially if the greenhouse is left unattended during the daytime.
If there is a natural high humidity in the room, or if the weather is cold or rainy outside, then additional humidification is not required.
This type of orchid loves sunlight, so they are usually kept on windowsills. However, you need to understand that natural light varies depending on the weather, season, time of day. At the end of autumn and winter, you can leave the flower under the sun for the whole day, but at the beginning of spring and summer, you will need to darken it. Shade can be created using an opaque coating on the outside of the window, or a canopy made of hard materials, fabric, etc. For the southern regions, shading is necessary all year round.
In winter, the plant may receive less sunlight. It should be filled with artificial lighting devices.
Flowers that receive too little light can be recognized by their dark, rich green leaves. In addition, a lack of sunlight can result in an inability to bloom. Cattleyas that receive the proper balance of light, humidity and temperature will have yellow-green leaves. Too much light will make them more yellow, give them a dull look, or even result in black patches.
Although cattleyas are native to the tropics, most species grow at fairly high altitudes where the air is cool and humid, especially in the morning and at night. Thus, in home or greenhouse conditions, you need to provide maximum sunlight without excessive heat. The optimum temperature is in the range of 15-23 0.
Cattleya will be able to withstand higher temperatures, even above 35 0 C, but prolonged heat is detrimental to her. Plants are unable to transport calcium in their tissues, causing the death of leaf tips on young developing shoots. High humidity and good indoor air movement will help offset the excessive daytime temperatures. If it is not possible to achieve normal air ventilation by natural means, then fans can be used at low speeds, only they should be directed away from the plants.
Features of care
After planting and choosing a suitable place for the Cattleya, further care for it will not be difficult.
Cattleya should only be watered after the potting medium is dry. The frequency of watering will vary, as some factors speed up the drying of the soil, others slow it down. Watch each plant closely, as the soil may dry out at different rates in individual pots.
Water it generously until excess water comes out of the drainage holes. Improper watering, both insufficient and excessive, is recognized as the main cause of the death of most orchids. Remember that plants recover much faster after underwatering, so it’s best to follow the rule: when in doubt, don’t water.
When watering, you need to be careful not to wet the peduncle. The leaves of the plant can be periodically wiped with a damp cloth.
Cattleya, like other orchids, is able to grow and even bloom for several years without fertilizer, however, the result will be better with an adequate nutritional regimen. Historically, a high nitrogen formula (30-10-10) has been adopted for bark-planted orchids, but current research indicates that high amounts of nitrogen can accelerate substrate degradation.
A better choice would be a low nitrogen, non-urea formulation such as 10-10-10 or 13-13-13. It is necessary to use fertilizers in the form of a solution every 2 weeks during the active growth of the peduncle and pseudobulbs. After flowering begins, fertilizer should be discontinued.
Overfeeding can lead to loss of roots and subsequent death of the plant, and in a well-established orchid, vegetative growth instead of flowers.
Cattleya orchids are hard to transplant, so this should be done only if necessary, that is, if the roots no longer have room, the plant begins to rot or the soil is oxidized. This usually happens after 1-3 years. Transplantation is best done when roots begin to appear at the base of the processes or immediately after the growth of these same processes begins. For most cattleyas, transplant time is not as important as long as a substrate that is easily removed from the roots is used. However, there are exceptions. Many of the bifoliate varieties do not tolerate “moving” well if carried out before new roots are formed.
To transplant a bush, you must carefully remove the roots and clean them from the substrate. To facilitate this task, it is recommended to place the rhizomes in warm water for a quarter of an hour. Inspect the roots for rotten and dry areas, and if necessary, cut them off with sterilized tools. Dry the orchid in the fresh air, then transplant it into the prepared pot in the same way as for the initial planting.
Cattleya Orchid Reproduction
An adult flower can be propagated by dividing the bush. This procedure is recommended to be carried out in the presence of at least 8 bulbs. Remove the bush from the pot, soak in water and remove the substrate. Divide the orchid into the desired number of parts, taking into account that each of them must have at least 3 bulbs, at least 1 bud and several roots. The incision should be made with a disinfected, sharp knife. It is desirable to process the cut with charcoal. After that, you can start landing.
- Watch for any abnormalities, such as leaf spots, that indicate disease. An orchid can be affected by aphids, scale insects, spider mites, worms, and whiteflies. You can get rid of these pests with insecticides.
- No pruning is required for this plant.
- Cattleya can grow tall; for this reason, keep a few bamboo sticks on hand in case the bush needs extra support.
- Don’t worry if you see roots wrapping around the base of the plant. This is fine; in their native environment, these roots help hold onto trees or rocky cliffs.
Cattleyas are not easy to care for, but their beautiful flowers are worth the effort!