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In the beginning, let me blow your mind with an incredible fact. The family of orchids is the largest family of flowering plants, and cattleya orchid is the most popular and widely spread genus of orchids!
Cattleya orchids are considered to be the low-maintenance orchid genus. They require little watering (in fact, they are very drought-tolerant) and enough sunlight. Although they like bright places, they will get burnt under the impact of direct sunlight. Find a semi-shaded place, or place it on a windowsill behind a weighted curtain. Cattleya orchid likes high humidity conditions (just make sure you don’t affect the flowers while misting, as they tend to rot when left moist). When it comes to soil requirements, use orchid bark mix. The most important thing is that you find a soilless mix. Cattleya orchids are considered to be slow-growing plants, so you won’t need to re-pot it for two or even three years! Additional feeding is required as well since it stimulates healthy growth and blooming. Common problems usually include overwatering or too much sun exposure. Still, both can be fixed pretty easily.
Would you like to know more about cattleya orchid care requirements? In the following lines, you will find out why this orchid genus has become so loved throughout the whole world!
Origin of Cattleya Orchid
This genus of orchids is originally from South America, Costa Rica, and Brazil, to be precise. It was found in Brazil in 1817, and named a few years later, in 1824.
The name ‘Cattleya orchid’ was given in honor of a well-known British horticulturist in the 19th century, William Cattley. Since then, it has become very popular, not only for its beautiful colorful flowers but also because it is considered to be the easiest to grow orchid variety.
The genus is widely known as the ‘queen of the orchids’. Also, they are the most hybridized of all orchid genus – there are over a thousand different species!
Cattleya Orchid Appearance
Although we couldn’t say that orchids are low-maintenance plants, this genus is the easiest one to take care of. Cattleya orchids are known for their showy and large flowers, that come in almost every color you could imagine.
The flower size goes up to 20 cm in width! The stems and leaves are green colored. This genus is sympodial, which means it grows from an underground rhizome.
The whole plant can grow up to be pretty large – up to 60 cm in height. Catalya orchid is an epiphyte, thus it grows on tree bark in nature.
Besides that, they are perennials and can live very long, for years, even decades!
Blooming Tips for Cattleya Orchid Care
Catteleya orchid flowers are magnificent and eye-catching. The blooming period lasts from three to six weeks, during spring and late autumn.
After that, the flowers will drop. Even though cattleyas don’t like too much water, you can intensify the watering during the blooming period and a little before that.
Still, lower the water amount when you notice that the blooms are emerging from sheaths, as too much water may cause them to rot. The plant usually produces one or two new pseudobulbs each year, and they grow flowers as well.
Catalia flower firstly appears in the sheath and then slowly emerges from it.
Pro-Tip: Some cattelaya orchids produce fragrant blooms. Consult your grower or flower shop worker to make sure whether your type is fragrant.
Sunlight Requirements for Cattleya Orchid Care
Cattelayas like a lot of sunlight, but not direct. The best place for your favorite flower would be near an east, west, or north window.
Also, it enjoys the morning sun, so it would be nice to provide some. If you need to keep the pot on a windowsill, you’ll have to use a heavy curtain (but light-colored) to protect it from direct sunlight.
Of course, you can always use indoor LED lights. Also, if you live in a sunny area, you can take the pot outside from June till late autumn.
If you live in a colder area, you can still take the pots outside, but make sure the temperatures don’t drop too low, especially during the night. Of course, you’ll need to provide a place away from direct sunlight but with some morning sunlight.
Cattleya Orchid Temperature Requirements
Cattleya flowers like temperatures that are a little higher than the average room temperature. Recommended daily temperatures are between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius.
Still, nighttime temperatures should be lower by at least 10 to 12 degrees Celsius, so everything between 10 to 13 degrees will be great for your cattleya.
The temperature drop is one of the essential things when it comes to cattleya orchid care. You might not be familiar with it, but the temperature change stimulates better growth and flowering.
Still, being a tropical plant, cattleya orchids are tolerant to higher temperatures as well, even up to 38 degrees Celsius. If these are the conditions you are providing, more often watering and especially misting (because of the needed humidity) will be required.
Watering Requirements for Cattleya Orchid Care
Orchid Cattleya doesn’t like to be watered often. Nonetheless, they are very drought-tolerant, and it is the most important thing to remember about cattleya care.
You should let the potting mix get almost completely dry before you water the plant. You’ll know when is the right time by simply looking at the pot. Orchids usually come in see-through plastic pots precisely for this reason.
Also, the water quality is very important for cattleya. The best option is rainwater. Just place a big container outside when it is raining and then store the water in bottles.
If you don’t have the conditions for this, you can use distilled water. On the other hand, if you would like to save a penny or two, you can just pour water into glass or plastic bottles and place them outside without the bottle lid.
The harmful substances found in tap water will evaporate when left under the impact of direct sunlight.
Cattleya Orchid Humidity Requirements
Cattleya orchid flower likes high humidity levels, between 45% and 60%. There are a few tricks to achieve this.
If you have multiple flower pots, you can gather them together to preserve the humidity. Also, you can place the pot in a tray filled with moist pebbles.
Evaporating water will do the trick for you. Still, make sure the draining holes don’t touch the water level of the tray since it may cause rot root.
Of course, occasional misting is required, as well. Just make sure the water doesn’t reach the flowers, as that may cause rot.
Soil Requirements for Cattleya Orchid Care
Orchid bark is the best solution if you have decided to buy a potting mix for your orchid. There are a lot of other choices out there, but orchid bark has proved to be the best solution.
Also, considering the fact they live as epiphytes (tree growing plants), you should aim for the soilless mix. When buying potting mix, pay attention to its pH value – it should be slightly acidic, between 5.5 and 6.5.
Most store-bought orchid mixes include pine bark, clay pebbles, perlite, charcoal, etc. Anything that ensures well drainage is great!
Still, if you live in a hot area, you can plant the orchid outside as well. They are parasite plants that usually have a host in form of a tree.
Pro-Tip: Enough draining holes on the pot are the alphabet of the orchid cultivation! Since they aren’t tolerant of overwatering, you’ll need to provide the best drainage you can!
Fertilizing Cattleya Orchid
Cattleyas need additional feeding (as most orchid varieties do).
During summer you should add some fertilizer to the orchid bark every second watering. During the cold months, you shouldn’t do it more often than once a month.
I suggest using special orchid food because it is the most appropriate solution. Other fertilizers could be too strong for this plant. You can find it in every flower shop.
On the other hand, there are specifically designed orchid fertilizers. You can use them and act following the given manual.
Pro-Tip: Make sure you don’t overfeed your cattleya orchid! Not only will cause excessive leaf growth, but it may also damage (literally burn) the roots and even cause an eventual death of the plant!
Repotting Cattleya Orchid
Cattleya plant isn’t a fast-growing one. You can re-pot it every two or even three years. You’ll notice it is the time by the roots – they will overgrow the container. The best time of year to do this is spring.
When repotting, keep in mind that you don’t want to hurt the stem. Before you start, you can gently knock on the pot walls, just so the roots separate from the bark.
After that, start pulling the stem steadily, but carefully. Although you want to protect the roots as well, don’t worry if you break some of the root stems during the process.
After you’ve taken the plant out of the pot, remove as much orchid bark (or another potting mix you have used) as possible. If you notice sick or rotten root parts, trim them right away.
When trimming, make sure you use a sterile, sharp tool, to prevent any eventual complications. Also, if you notice any of the pseudobulbs becoming sick, remove them as well.
If you want to, you can leave only the oldest pseudobulbs, and cut the young ones. Having done all of this, spread out the roots and give them another look.
Place some orchid bark at the bottom of the pot and then place the plant, while adding the potting mix. Make sure you tuck it in nicely, so the plant won’t sway around.
If you still notice that the stem is moving, you can add a support stick to hold the plant.
In the end, I would like to emphasize an important orchid asset – since they live on trees in nature, their roots often tend to wrap around the plant base, when kept in a pot.
Don’t be fooled by this! Cattelya orchids use their roots as hangers in nature, so there is no need to re-pot them only because you have noticed that the plant base is covered in roots. Re-pot it only when you see that the pot is over-grown.
What Pot Size to Pick?
Although cattleya orchid isn’t a fast grower, make sure you choose the right size of the new pot – it should be big enough for the next two years of growth.
Remember that this genus of orchid produces one or two pseudobulbs a year.
Also, I suggest using a see-through plastic pot, because you might need to break the clay pot while repotting because it is harder for the roots to separate from clay than plastic.
Pro-Tip: If you want to try out your luck, you can even plant the cattleya orchid seeds and see whether you are the expert gardener you are dreaming of becoming! Not only the chances of success are pretty low, but it’ll take a long time. This orchid genus needs four to seven years to fully grow up. Still, imagine how proud you’d be of your little green friend!
Common Problems of Cattleya Orchid Care
Just like with many other types of plants, orchids can also encounter certain difficulties. This type of orchid is not different. Let’s check what are the common problems with cattleya orchid care.
Cattleya Orchid Isn’t Blooming
If you notice that your cattleya orchid isn’t blooming, it must be because it is not getting enough sunlight.
You’ll need to reposition the pot.
Still, even though your plant hasn’t been getting enough sunlight, make sure you don’t place it under direct sunlight!
Instead, look for a place with enough filtered light.
You’ll notice that the plant isn’t getting enough sunlight by the leaf color, as well.
If you see that the leaves are dark green instead of apple green, it is because the plant needs more sunlight.
This is one of the most common issues with newbies when it comes to cattleya orchids.
If you notice the catt leya leaves are becoming yellow, it is probably because the plant has been exposed to too much sunlight.
On the other hand, it may happen because you have been overwatering it.
Just see how the roots look (this is another reason why I suggest using a see-through pot), and whether they are becoming rotten.
Of course, if you see that the potting mix is waterlogged, you have the answer.
Here you can find out more about what to do if you notice cattleya orchid leaves becoming yellow.
If your catala orchid leaves are becoming brown, find a new place for it right away!
The plant has been getting too much sunlight and needs a shadier place.
Cattleya orchids can be prone to different pests, such as scale or mealybugs.
To stop them from appearing, don’t overwater the plant, because humid conditions attract them.
If you notice the scale, you can try to remove them by gently swabbing the infected parts with a cotton cloth or cotton wool soaked in alcohol.
You can also use some chemicals to fight these persistent pests.
Still, when buying any chemicals for this purpose, make sure you mention that you are planning to use them on orchids, since some chemicals may harm your cattleya flower.
If you don’t want to use any chemically-based pesticides, you can try with neem oil.
Pro-Tip: There is this homemade insecticide soap that is cheap and works wonders! All you have to do is take 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and add 2 tablespoons of baby shampoo. Mix them in 1 l of water and pour the mixture into a spraying bottle. You can also add 1 cup of alcohol.
If you notice fungus appearing as well, just add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to the mix. Just make sure you use a big enough container since baking soda mixed with the ingredients will create foam.
Frequently Asked Questions
When do Cattleya Orchids bloom?
Cattleya orchids bloom throughout spring and autumn, for a couple of weeks.
There are hybrid species that bloom throughout the late summer and even during the winter.
What is a pseudobulb?
It is a part of the plant that many terrestrial plants (such as orchids) have.
It is an organ used for storing nutritious elements and water.
They look like swollen lightbulb shaped stems (thus the name).
Pseudobulbs are the reason why cattleya orchids can survive long drought periods.
They don’t live for too long, usually one to five years.
Besides storing water, pseudobulbs are great indicators of the plant’s health – when they look shiny and ‘full’, it means your cataleya flower is happy and thriving.
How often should I water Cattleya Orchid?
You should water Cattleya orchid only when the soil is almost dry to the very bottom of the pot. It takes about 5-7 days for this to happen. If you are not quite sure, then wait for a couple of days, or use gadgets such as soil meters, to help you.
If you are looking for a colorful flowering plant that also has an exotic vibe, the cattleya orchid should be your first choice! This widely-spread orchid genus is very popular for its low-maintenance features.
Cattleya orchids like bright places away from direct sunlight. Besides that, they are very drought-tolerant, so it will forgive you if you forget to water it from time to time.
In addition, they are slow growers, so you won’t have to re-pot them for two or even three years. If you are looking for the perfect potting mix, I suggest using one of the specialized orchid mixes that contain no plain soil.
Some additional fertilizing is required as well. Use a liquid fertilizer or just buy special orchid fertilizer.
Although they aren’t prone to pests, you might find some intruders. Still, it can be fixed pretty easy using pesticides, both store-bought, or home-made!