Cattleya Orchid

Carithers Flowers Design Favorite

Cattleya Orchid is among the most popular cultivated orchid in the world. A member of the Orchidaceace family, the cattleya genus contains over 113 species of orchids from Costa Rica to South America. It is an epiphyte, or air plant, that grows naturally high in the trees of tropical forests. Cattleya has water storage organs called pseudobulbs with big, fleshy roots covered by a water retentive sheath. Their natural habitat, along with this built in water system, makes it easy to understand the two mistakes gardeners make most when trying to grow Cattleya orchids: insufficient light and overwatering. Although several dozen species exist in the wild, you’ll most likely find one of the literally thousands of hybridized varieties when purchasing a cattleya orchid. It is now available is many sizes (with flowers ranging from 5-15 cm), colors (all except true blue and black) and patterns.

Revered for its large, showy, sometimes aromatic flower, the blooms contain 3 narrow sepals with 3 usually broader petals. Two of the petals are alike and the third, called the lip, has different markings and a frilly border. The leaves of a healthy cattleya are apple green and rigid. Darker, floppy leaves indicate too little light, while yellow or brownish, hard leaves mean too much direct sunlight. The best spots for cattleya are on a windowsill that gets a couple of hours of direct sunlight or on the patio in the summer (but avoid midday full sun). During the growing season, water the plant often, but do not let it sit in water. Cut back on watering after the flowers emerge from their sheaths.

Growing Recommendations - Cattleya Orchid

Most varieties have one new flush of growth each year (some have 2), with flowers blooming during that same growing season. There is no single growing season: some grow in late summer or even in winter. The flower blooms last 1-3 weeks. After blooming, the plant rests for a time before growing again. It is during this rest period that repotting is most successful. Do not divide the plant until it has at least 6 mature pseudobulbs.

Photos of Cattleya Orchid

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