These are a type of orchids which are the most sumptuous and exotic of all and are generally chosen for corsages. In the wild there are about 50 species of Cattleya. Right from Central America, growing through the Amazon region to the south of Brazil.
Their various distinctive flowers and the tendency of these plants to grow in large colonies means that they have been vigorously over-collected and the present status of many cattleya orchids is endangered.
Cattleya orchids produce strong ‘pseudobulbs’ topped with one or more leathery leaves. Every year a dormant bud at the base grows into a new shoot, which thickens to produce the current year’s pseudobulb. The cattleya flowers arise from the tip of the current year’s growth and come in a range of colours from white and pink to green and purple. Some of these only flower twice yearly.
Hybrids have been bred over the years and many of which are easy to grow and easy to flower. Over 40 other a genus which has been bred into Cattleyas and notably among them Sophronitis has been used to introduce scarlet and Brassovola for the frilly lip.
Temperature and Humidity
The minimum night temperatures of 10 -15 C which depends on the plants’ origin but the growth in summer is rapid at temperatures up to 26 C. Incase of a humid atmosphere propelled by a fan is beneficial.
In the greenhouses, the normal maximum is 50% of the full daylight or 2000-3000 foot candles. In case of hot weather always shade sufficiently to ensure that the leaves are cool to the touch. In case you are growing in the home always give a bright situation but not direct sunlight which may be done behind a net curtain right from April to September. These can also develop into good conservatory plants as long as summer shade and good air movement can be provided.
Watering and Fertilising
From March to September the compost should never be allowed to dry out fully. Always water twice weekly and always fertilise fortnightly with a recommended orchid fertiliser.
From October to February, no fertiliser is required, but always waters the plants when the compost appears dried out. It is always better to underwater as the plants can stand neglect more than over watering.