Cattleya Orchid Plant Care

Table of Contents

When you think of orchids, you can think of the Cattleya genus for its showy yet fragrant flowers. The blooms you’ll find in different color combinations and shapes. The fantastic thing is most species sport a large bloom stretching several inches across, and others have a smaller beautiful flower.

So if you are planning to invest in the Cattleya orchid, you have made the right choice. It is a perfect beginner plant to care for.

What is Cattleya Orchid?

The orchid is epiphytic and can grow attached to trees and other plants. The foliage has a dull green color and extends from a pseudobulb where the nutrients and water is stored. The flower is a slow grower and long-lived plant taking up to seven years to mature.

The Cattleya is indigenous species found in Brazil. The fascinating thing is the name comes from William Cattley, who shipped the flower into London, nursing it back to health.

Cattleya Orchid Care

cattleya orchid

Now, let us look at the basic overview of the Cattleya orchid care:

  • Botanical Name: Cattleya
  • Common Name: Cattleya orchid, corsage orchid, orchid, Queen of the orchids
  • Plant type: Perrenial
  • Native to: Brazil
  • Leaf and Flower: Evergreen with showy flower
  • Maximum Size: 2 ft. tall
  • Watering Requirements: Medium
  • Light Requirements: Partial
  • Preferred Humidity:  High
  • Preferred Temperature: 70°F-85°F (21°C to 29°C)
  • Soil or Potting Medium: Well-drained soilless media
  • Fertilizer: Balanced orchid fertilizer
  • Propagation Method: Stem cuttings and division
  • Toxicity: Nontoxic to pets
  • Vulnerable to: Slugs, thrips, scales, mealybugs, spider mites

By now, you have a general and quick idea about calathea orchid plant care. But wait, there’s more! We have gathered all the relevant information for you in this comprehensive guide.

Cattleya Orchid Potting Medium

orchid potting mix

The best potting mix for your orchid is fir bark, but you can use a commercial growing mix made for orchids. The mix includes perlite, sequoia bark, coconut husk chips, tree fern fiber, gravel, horticultural charcoal, and more. If you do decide to plant your Cattleya outdoors, you can slab-mount them.

In this method, you attach the orchid to a tree host by wrapping the roots in moss using wire to plant it on top of a shelf.

Water Needs

Your orchid needs moderate watering and will only need so if it is dried out. You can do this weekly but do not leave your plant wet all the time as it can lead to root rot. Give Cattleya orchids enough water by spraying distilled water over the foliage until it runs through the container’s drainage holes.

You can also place the orchid in the sink under flowing water. This is best done in the mornings, leaving it enough time to dry.

Lighting Condition

Your Cattleya orchids need bright light for optimal growth. If you grow it as a houseplant, the best place is an east- or west-facing window. Yet, it is best to diffuse the light with a sheer curtain to diffuse the midday sun. When grown as an outdoor plant, they enjoy the sunlight in the morning but need protection from the afternoon sun.

With not getting enough light, your orchids will have dark green leaves and might not flower. While too much light turns the leaves yellowish or becomes brown or black.

The Best Temperature and Humidity for Cattleya Orchids

Orchids prefer daytime temperatures ranging between 70°F-85°F (21°C to 29°C). During the evening, they enjoy temperatures between 55°F-60°F (12°C to 15°C). Temperatures below this can possibly kill the orchid.

If the temperature is around 95°F (35°C), your plant needs ample air circulation with high humidity. Your tropical plant thrives in humidity levels around 40-70%. The best way to provide moisture to your Cattleyas is to use a tray filled with water and pebbles.

Or you can mist the foliage in the morning. Another great way to boost humidity is using a humidifier or grow them in a greenhouse environment or if you want to grow them as an indoor plant.

plant humidifier

Fertilizer Condition

Orchids are known to bloom for years even without feeding them. But if you want your plant to thrive, you can provide them with the nutrients needed. Many gardeners use a balanced orchid fertilizer made to a quarter strength when watering them weekly.

Too much feeding can lead to enormous foliage growth at the expense of flowers. It can also damage the roots. You can also use foliar fertilizers that can induce the cattleyas to flower.

Cattleya Orchids Plant Propagation

Propagating orchids present you with different ways. Here we describe the various methods so you can provide family and friends with some fantastic gifts. Take note to always use sterilized pruning sheers when cutting your plants.

Rhizome Division

The only time this method is a success is when you have a mature or finished flowering orchid. It’s advisable to do this when you’re repotting your plant as it is removed from the pot. Once you have the orchid in your hand, you cut between the active pseudobulbs slicing through the rhizomes.

You can then replant the cuttings in different pots. After planting, do not water the cuttings for a week.

Stem Cuttings Propagation

Using this method has two different propagation techniques stem cutting and Keiki cutting.

Stem Cutting
  1. Start by preparing the growing trays, such as a seed tray lining it with sphagnum moss to retain water.
  2. Next, select a tall yet thick and healthy stem.
  3. Cut the stem above the leaf joint and node to bring forth new growth.
  4. Slice the cutting into smaller sections, with each of them having at least three nodes attached.
  5. Now lay the cuttings on your moss a distance apart from one another to prevent overcrowding when it grows.
  6. Cover the tray using a layer of clear plastic to hold the moisture inside.
  7. Please place them in a damp yet shady spot.
Keiki Cutting

The method uses small plantlets developing from mature plants. To do this, you need to wait until the orchid roots are between two to four inches (five to ten centimeters) long with up to three leaves. Then, you can detach the babies and place them in new pots with some sphagnum moss with the roots close to the surface and kept away from direct sunlight.

Finding the Right Growing Zones

Areas located in the USDA zones 10 to 12 is the best place to grow your Cattleya orchids. These zones are best suited for the orchids growing needs.

Potting Orchids

potting requirement

One thing the Cattleya orchids do not enjoy is getting their roots disturbed. So only transplant them when needed. When you notice the roots growing over the edge of your clay pots, it is time to repot. You can expect this to happen every two years.

Choose a slightly larger potting medium with ample drainage. The best to do this with a clay pot is to break it. Yes, we know the poor pot, but it is easier. Once you have your plant out of the container, you can shake off the decomposed soil.

Place your orchid in a new container at the same depth as in the old one. Pack it up with fresh potting soil around the roots.

Cattleya Varieties

There are many orchid hybrids and species within the Cattleya genus varying in appearance and more:

Cattleya labiata

Cattleya labiata

The crimson Cattleya or the ruby-lipped orchid has medium-size producing show blooms of lilac, pink, or white.

Cattleya tricolor 

Cattleya tricolor

The flower of this orchid is spectacular with a creamy white or pale yellow color. The blooms are very fragrant, and it makes for an extraordinary tropical plant to have in the home.

Cattleya mossiae

Cattleya mossiae

The Easter orchid blooms around Easter and is a beautiful flower with four or five blooms per spike. As it blooms around March, April and May, you find it at spring dances or graduations worn as the corsage orchid.

Cattleya Orchids Diseases & Pests

While you try your best to keep your Cattleya orchids happy, there are some pests and diseases you need to keep an eye on.

Slugs

  • These night-time assassins known as slugs leave silvery trails over your plant. To remove them, you can use a suitable slug liquid sprinkled at regular intervals.

Scales

  • You can find two types of scale the first one you see on the underside of leaves looking like hard brown limpets. If you find one or two, you can wipe them off using a cloth soaked in methylated spirits.

Mealybugs

  • The other type is nasty looking like flat round scales under the leaves. These can lead to a mealybug infestation if left. What you can use is Neem oil or Doff to remove the pests.

Thrips and Spider mites

  • Thrips and spider mites are other pests to look out for. The best to remove them is to wipe down the leaves and stems with methylated spirits using a cloth.

Other concerns with Cattleyas are leaf rot, mildew, and botrytis and prevented by providing your plant with enough air movement and making sure the leaves are dry by nightfall. Or you can use a fungal spray that works with orchids. Another concern is to check for viruses caused by using sheers, not disinfected or other plants in the growing area. Some viruses are:

Cymbidium mosaic virus

This causes the leaves to show a mosaic pattern of light to dark greenish areas. Or you may notice black/brown spots appearing on the petals.

Odontoglossum ringspot virus

This shows necrotic spots, line patterns, ring spots, chlorotic streaks, or hollow areas in the leaves or stems.

Frequently Asked Questions

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When do Cattleya Orchids bloom?

The average flowering period for the Cattleya orchid is three to six weeks in spring. When you notice them starting to bloom, water them often throughout the blooming period. Once the flowering period is over, the plant begins to drop the flowers.

How do you make Cattleya Orchid bloom?

For your orchid to flower consistently, it needs a good amount of light with partial shade. While orchids can deal with a lot of light, the air movement and humidity need to be sufficient to keep the leaf temperature down

What do you do with a Cattleya Orchid flower spike?

After the orchid drops flowers, there are three choices you can make. You can leave the stem intact, or you can cut it back to the node. Or you can remove the spike by clipping it off at the base of your plant. Of course, the best route is to eradicate it as it can turn yellow or brown.

Where can you buy Cattleya Orchids?

Buying orchids is not difficult as you can visit your local nursery or purchase them online. Yet, there is even a better way by finding your Cattlyeas right here with us at Plantly.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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