Cattleya Orchid Plant Care

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Care and Culture

Cattleya orchids are very popular among growers for their large beautiful blooms and ease of care and culture.

This is an informational article about cattleya orchid care. Cattleya orchids are probably the easiest to care for and like all plants need water, light and fertilizer. Most of the wild cattleya orchids grow in the rain forests of South America, mostly in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Mexico. They flourish in the Andes from altitudes near sea level to high altitudes of 9,000 – 10,000 feet. These orchids are truly epiphytes (air plants). They are used to being partly covered by the canopy of the rain forest and get considerable humidity and bright light. This is important to remember when caring for cattleya orchids.

Cattleya orchids generally do not require direct mid-day sunlight. It is bright light which helps them to develop hard pseudopods. The pseudopods are an orchid plants main way to hold water which is very important for their growth and bloom. It is from the pseudopods that the orchid flowers come from.

In the winter and higher altitudes these plants become accustom to temperatures which can drop as low as 50 – 55 degrees in the winter and as high as 80 – 90 degrees in the summer. The cattleya orchid should have some temperature changes to help it grow and bloom. Temperature variations of at least 10 degrees between day and night are ideal.

Humidity is the friend to cattleyas. Most cattleya orchids do well with being set on humidity trays. These are metal or plastic trays that are filled with pepples and then half full with water. The plant roots cannot sit in water for a long period of time or else they will get root rot. Allow for good air circulation but not directly aiming at an air vent.

Generally, watering is important when caring for cattleya orchids. Twice a week does well during their growth and flowering period and once a week during their resting period. Cattleyas are orchids that can and should get dry between watering after blooming. This aids in the growth of healthy pseudopods. Be sure that the potting medium allow the water to drain out fairly rapidly. To check to see if a plant needs water stick your finger about 1 inch into the potting material and see if it comes out dry or damp. If your finger is dry the orchid probably needs watering. If it is damp it may be able to go another day or two without water. When watering orchids allow the water to flow into the plant and then drain right out into the sink and not directly on the humidity tray. You can let the water flow on the plant for about 30 seconds and the pseudopods will get enough water for storage.

If plants blossom in the winter or spring this means that these orchid plants need a resting period of about 6 to 8 weeks. During this time water them about once a week and keep the lighting the same.

If the plants blossom in the summer time no resting period is needed.

Fertilizing should take place about every other week with a balanced formula like 20-20-20. If the orchid plant is flowering you can fertilize with a blossoming mixture with a higher nitrogen factor, e.g. 30-10-10.

With these rather simple and easy steps of caring for cattleya orchids you will see beautiful blooms for many years.

Cattleya Orchid Plant Care

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One response on “Cattleya Orchid Plant Care”

  1. rob says:

    2nd last paragraph: a bloom fertilizer actually contains higher PHOSPHORUS, and an example of that would me 10-30-10. do they mean during flowering start giving it more nitrogen for new pseudobulob growth afterwards?

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