Temperature: 70° - 85° F days, 55° - 65° F nights
Water: Should be almost dry between waterings
Light: Bright filtered light, 35 – 50% shade
Humidity: 40 – 75%
Fertilizer: Twice a month
When the average person thinks of an orchid, they think of a Cattleya. The “Queen of Orchids” has always been popular and is often the first orchid an individual experiences in the form of a corsage. This New World genus originates in Central and South America with relatives extending into the Caribbean and even Florida. Today, the term Cattleya has come to include all hybrids made with closely related families such as Laelia and Encyclia, as well as Cattleyas themselves. Cattleya hybrids can have large or small flowers on large or small plants and come in nearly every color of the rainbow except for true blue.
Fortunately for us, most Cattleyas are adaptable and seem to prefer the same temperatures as we do. All we need to concern ourselves with is providing proper light and humidity, and of course, water and fertilizer. Better-Gro® Orchid Plus® is ideal. Both Better-Gro® Orchid Plus® and Better-Gro® Bloom Booster® fertilizers are formulated specifically for orchids and provide nitrogen in a readily available form – NO urea nitrogen – as well as essential minor elements. For better blooming use Better-Gro® Bloom Booster® 2 to 3 months prior to expected bloom. Without sufficient light Cattleya may continue to grow but not produce flowers. The leaves should be an even medium-green color. Dark green leaves are usually an indication that the plant is not receiving enough light. In northern climates, an east or west window can often provide adequate light for Cattleya. Be sure to watch out for possible sunburn spots on leaves. Whenever possible, summer orchids outdoors under a tree when all threat of frost is gone. Cattleya prefer high humidity, 50% or higher, which may be difficult to provide in heated homes during the winter. Placing a water-filled tray of pebbles under the pot and an occasional misting can help satisfy the orchids’s needs. Cattleya are best grown on a wet-to-dry cycle, that is, the plant is not watered until it is almost dry from the previous watering. Poking a small stick, skewer or the tip of your finger into the potting medium will tell you whether the plant needs watering. More orchids are killed by too much water than too little. Remember orchids are air plants, old, broken-down potting media will compact and hold too much moisture leading to rotting and breakdown of the root system. For best growing results, keep orchids in a fresh growing media such as Better-Gro® Special Orchid Mix which is designed specifically for Cattleyas and other orchids with similar growth habit. An almost-dry pot should feel lighter than a just watered one and the potting medium will lose some of its springiness. Re-pot Cattleyas every 12 to 24 months.
Cattleyas can be among the most rewarding orchids to grow and they come in almost any size or color to suit your fancy. Although many of the species only bloom once a year, hybrids can bloom two or more times each year. Most Cattleyas also have the added appeal of a delicious fragrance. Succeed at blooming Cattleyas and you will most certainly be hooked as an orchid grower.