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Caring for


The Cattleyas have been widely bred with many family variants like the Laelia and Guarianthe to produce an array of complex hybrids including Laeliocattleya and Cattlianthe. They tend to have large, showy flowers in bright colours with some miniature varieties too. The species are not as common and are native to Brazil and other countries on the South- American continent.  They have upright pseudo bulbs with thick, leathery leaves. 


The blooms come from inside a sheath produced at the top of the newest mature pseudo bulb which is at the base of the leaf. They can be singular or several on a head. And are annual flowering usually in spring or autumn.


Although Cattleyas come from the tropics where the sunlight is hot and intense, most species are found at fairly high altitudes where the air is cool and moist, particularly at dawn and dusk. In a home environment, the goal is to provide maximum sunlight without excessive temperature. They enjoy intermediate temperatures with with a minimum 12°C in winter, daytime maximum of 30°C. They usually grow best in a humid greenhouse but some will grow well in your home.


To help with re-flowering keep all Cattleya types in good light all year round, shaded from the bright summer sun to prevent scorching, however they require good light in winter. As we know, light varies according to the time of day with early morning sun, accompanied by high humidity and low temperature, is especially important. Shading should be heaviest from midday through the late afternoon, especially if plants are grown in windowsills. Afternoon sunlight coming through west-facing windows can be pretty hot so without adequate air movement and humidity, this can lead to damaged plants.


They do not like to be soaked so are grown in an open bark compost to ensure good drainage. When in growth during the summer months, they require watering and spraying regularly, especially the aerial roots. In winter, only occasional watering and spraying on sunny days is needed. Remember- its always better to underwater than overwater!


Cattleyas mostly thrive when humidity levels range from 40% to 70%. Humidity as a rule is highest at night and lowest during the afternoon peak of sunlight and warmth, except in areas where natural humidity is quite high, or during cold, cloudy or rainy weather. It is important to add moisture to the growing environment, especially during the day which can be accomplished in a number of ways. For small collections grown under lights, humidity trays may be sufficient. These trays are nothing more than a water-holding tray filled with small gravel (aquarium gravel works best). The gravel-filled trays are filled with water to a level just below the surface. To prevent plants sitting on constantly wet gravel the plants are placed on small saucers or pieces of plastic or metal grid placed on top of the trays.


In relation to potting, these orchids don’t care when they're slightly hanging over the pot as the new growth is young in the spring/summer, just increase the pot when the plant has clearly outgrown the current one. 

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