Cattleya dowiana care infographicCattleya Dowiana of the Orchidaceae family — affectionately termed Queen of Cattleyas — is a must-have orchid for all those people that are fascinated by this type of flower. If you think it will be hard to look after it, think again!

We have brought together this guide on the easiest approach to caring for this Cattleya genus orchid at home. Continue reading to learn it all.

What Is Cattleya Dowiana Orchids?

Cattleya Dowiana is a magnificent looking orchid native to Costa Rica and Panama, growing at elevations of 600 to 1,500 yards above sea level. Since the 1800s, it has been a hot favorite among orchid lovers, decorating botanical gardens all across Europe and North America. Find out what its distinguishing features are in the next section.

– Pseudobulbs and Stalks

  • The pseudobulbs of the Dowiana orchid grow to about 3 to 4 inches tall.
  • This pseudobulb has distinct ribs that are concealed by papery thin sheaths in young plants and can be seen on the bulb under dry conditions.

– Flowers

  • The flowers of Cattleya Dowiana bloom during the late summer season.
  • These grow on a five to six-flowered, 5 inches tall inflorescence that emerges from individual pseudobulbs.
  • Cattleya Dowiana flowers are fragrant, short-lived and ornamental.
  • The diameter of each flower is 5.5 inches across. 
  • Each petal is a lively yellow in color and rhomboid or ovoid in shape. They are 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, with wavy edges.
  • As for the lip, it is tri-lobed and a dark purplish-red in color.
  • The major experts in breeding orchids use Dowiana to create hybrids with intense purple colors.

– Leaves

  • Each stem of Dowiana produces a single leaf that is light green in color.
  • The leaves are fleshy and oblong, measuring 9 inches in length and 2.5 inches in width.
  • You can easily identify these leaves by their conduplicate nature, meaning they tend to fold in half, with the upper part of the leaf blade being hidden by the lower part.

– Aurea 

  • Cattleya Dowiana aurea is a famous variant of Cattleya Dowiana. Both of these orchids are unique for having yellow flowers, but the aurea differs from the classic Cattleya Dowiana in the respect that the lip of its flowers has yellow striations and a purple border.

Cattleya Dowiana Care


Now, this is an orchid that loves and thrives under a very bright light. In fact, it will not bloom at all if not exposed to ample quantities of light during the whole growing season. Continue reading to find out how best to fulfill your orchid’s light requirements.

– Growing Indoors

  • Florists mostly prefer growing Cattleya Dowiana indoors because of their ornamental value.
  • Because they need very high levels of bright light and can even tolerate direct sunlight, you will have to place them near a window to soak up as much sunlight as possible.
  • Windows in the southern or western sides of your house will receive the maximum amount of light throughout the day. That is where you should place this orchid.
  • Even at a distance of only 3 feet from the window, the light intensity falls to about a quarter of what is near the window. Keep this in mind as you move Dowiana orchids across the room.

– Growing Outdoors

  • Because this orchid can tolerate high-intensity direct sunlight, you can safely put them outdoors in a garden or nursery.
  • One sign that your orchid is receiving adequate enough light is a fresh, light color of your leaves and pseudobulbs.

– Ideal Duration of Exposure to Light

  • You should strive towards providing your Cattleya Dowiana with a maximum of 16 hours of bright light on a daily basis.
  • If that sounds like too much, then at least  if you want this orchid to grow properly a10 hours of bright light daily is a bare minimumnd flower.


Abundant light is not the only thing that Cattleya Dowiana orchids love. They also need frequent, abundant watering.

Watering Potted Cattleya Dowiana

However, as an orchid parent, you should never let yourself get carried away when it comes to watering. Continue reading to learn how to water Cattleya Dowiana the right way.

– Watering Potted Cattleya Dowiana

  • In potted plants, you should choose a potting medium that is well-draining and can retain moisture without getting soggy.
  • Your pot should also have adequate drainage holes at its bottom.
  • Water your orchid thoroughly each time, allowing it to flow over the entire plant and out through the medium and the drainage hole.
  • Always allow the roots and the potting medium to dry out first before watering a second time. We always recommend orchid growers to check the soil every time before watering. You can do so by sticking a pencil into it and seeing whether it comes out dry or wet.
  • We warn you, not allowing the roots of Dowiana orchids to dry and overwatering them will lead to a nasty rot of pseudobulbs, which is fatal in most cases.

– Watering Hanging and Mounted Varieties

  • If you are growing Cattleya Dowiana by mounting them on a piece of cork or in a hanging basket with their roots exposed, then you can water them daily.
  • This is because mounted orchids are not planted in any soil or potting mixture that can retain water for them. Therefore, they need daily watering and their roots will also dry out quicker than potted varieties.
  • As always, the most suitable type of water is filtered reverse osmosis water. However, common tap water will do too.

SoilSoil: The Best Potting Medium

Worried about the best way to grow your Cattleyas and the right type of soil to use? Read ahead as our orchid experts clear the air.

  • The best potting medium for Cattleya Dowiana is one that is breathable and dried quickly. 
  • In our nurseries and botanical gardens, we have had great success growing this orchid in soil made up of charcoal and sphagnum moss in a ratio of 20 to 25 percent.
  • Always buy the best quality potting mixture that you can obtain.


Cattleya Dowiana is somewhat particular about its surrounding temperature. Learn what those requirements are below.

  • This orchid grows best under moderately warm conditions.
  • In summer, the ideal daytime temperatures are 77 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Temperatures during summer nights should be around 64 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Even during the winter season, don’t let the temperature drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cattleyas need a temperature drop of 43 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit from day to night every day for their optimum growth and bloom.
  • In summer, you can ensure this drop in temperature by keeping a fan on around these orchids all night. Or you could open the window in the room where they are kept to let in some cool night breeze.


– Life Cycle

The first thing you should know regarding this orchid is its yearly life cycle. It experiences a growth season from spring until summer, at the end of which it produces its vibrant bloom. The winter months are the resting period of this orchid.

– Seeds

When cultivating seeds, remember that the word sterile is the key. Plant sterile seeds in a sterile nutrient medium in a sterile flask and maintain all the cultural requirements until you see new growth emerging.

– Potting

Growing Cattleya Dowiana in pots is a wise choice because of the large size this orchid usually achieves. Here are some tips for you to follow:

  • Don’t use a very large pot. Orchids grow best under conditions where their roots are cramped. 
  • We suggest a clay pot with proper drainage at the bottom. Clay pots allow breathing space to the roots.
  • As mentioned above, create a potting mix using sphagnum moss and charcoal.

– Repotting

One of the most frequent queries we get regarding Dowiana is about when and how to repot them. Continue reading to find out what our experts say on the subject.

repot out Cattleyas in spring

First, you can tell it’s time to repot your orchid and transfer it to another pot when:

  • The substrate undergoes condensation.
  • The substrate becomes too salty due to the constant accumulation of salts as a byproduct of frequent fertilization.
  • When your orchid literally outgrows its current pot. You will see that new pseudobulbs have now begun to hang from the sides of the pot.
  • When new stems grow up to 5 inches in height and start growing their own roots.

And here are some guidelines on the timing and process of repotting:

  • We always repot out Cattleyas in spring at the start of the growing season.
  • The new pot should only be a few inches larger than the previous one
  • Also, take this opportunity to replace the old potting medium with a new one. 
  • Use sterile instruments to very carefully transfer the entire orchid to the new pot.
  • After repotting, wait a couple of months before you start fertilizing. You want to give the roots a chance to adjust to their new surroundings. 

– Fertilizer

Using any premium quality orchid fertilizer, feed your orchid every other week. However, only use half the strength of the fertilizer given in the packet. It is always best to dilute the fertilizer by mixing it with water and then giving it to the roots.

For Dowiana orchids, we also suggest misting some of this diluted fertilizer on leaves and stems. This is called foliar dressing and is quite beneficial for plant growth.

– Humidity and Ventilation

  • Cattleya Dowiana orchids need approximately 70 percent humidity levels around them. 
  • When such high humidity levels are required, you should always maintain good air circulation and ventilation to prevent your plant from fungal infections and root rot.


Does Cattleya Dowiana need winter rest?

Cattleya Dowiana benefits from a winter rest period to promote blooming and overall health. Reduced watering and cooler temperatures are recommended.

Can you fertilize Cattleya Dowiana with Epsom salt?

Epsom salt is not recommended for fertilizing Cattleya Dowiana. It may not provide the necessary nutrients for orchid growth and could potentially harm the plant.

Should Cattleya Dowiana roots be exposed?

Cattleya Dowiana’s roots should not be exposed. They require a well-draining medium with good air circulation, but exposing the roots can lead to dehydration and damage.


We have learned a lot about Cattleya Dowiana in this article. Let’s just quickly go through the points that will come in most handy below:

  • Cattleya Dowiana is known in the world for producing pure yellow flowers.
  • This orchid requires very bright light for 10 to 16 hours each day. It can even tolerate direct sunlight.
  • If grown indoors, always put it near a western to a south-facing window.
  • Water them thoroughly each time but allow the plant and the substrate to dry before you water it the next time.
  • Keep them in moderate temperatures. Ensure a temperature drop from day to night.
  • Maintain humidity levels up to 70 percent and keep these orchids under good ventilation conditions.
  • Fertilize Cattleya Dowiana every other week at half the strength of orchid fertilizers.
  • The best potting medium is composed of sphagnum moss and charcoal.
  • Repot at the start of the growing season and only when absolutely necessary.

Phew! We understand that it is a lot of information to take in at first. However, equipped with the right tips and tricks, we believe you are all set to become the ideal parent for Cattleya Dowiana.

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