The Cattleya orchid is a slow grower but easy-to-care epiphytic genus with dark green leaves. The orchid lives longer and can reach maturity between four to seven years.
Some Cattleya orchids like the Labiatae produce large blooms once per year while others like the Aclandiae flower twice a year. Keep reading this article to gain more information on how to care for this orchid the expert way.
- What Is Cattleya Orchid?
- Cattleya Orchid Care
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Cattleya Orchid?
The Cattleya orchid is a unique genus that has around 130 varieties and it is native to tropical America. The Cattleya orchid was named after a horticulturist called William Cattley. This Cattleya is also commonly known as the Queen of all orchids and can be used in corsages.
Cattleya Orchid Care
The Cattleya can grow healthy and showy if you practice orchid care using the important tips that are presented in this article.
– Water Requirements
Water the Cattleya orchid once a week during the blooming period. Check the moisture content before watering. Make sure two-thirds of the potting mix is dry prior to the next watering. Do not let your Cattleya orchid sit in soggy soil for a long time to avoid root rot.
We recommend that you water the Cattleya orchid in the morning so that the leaves will have enough time to dry during the day. This can prevent the development of diseases like mildew.
You have to irrigate your Cattleya orchid deeply until you see the water running out through the drainage holes. We encourage you to irrigate the Cattleya orchid with rainwater, reverse osmosis-treated water, or distilled water, all of which have low alkalinity.
However, in winter, water the Cattleya orchid once or twice a month. The lower temperatures contribute to extended periods of moisture retention. Avoid under- or over-watering to keep your orchid healthy, keeping in mind that the plants prefer sitting in a dry potting mix. The pseudobulbs store water that can be used during drought.
– Light Requirements
The Cattleya orchid grows optimally in bright, indirect sunlight. Place your orchid on the east or west-facing window. The Cattleya orchid loves the direct morning sun so you can take it outside in the morning and bring it indoors in the afternoon.
You may also remove the sheer curtain or blinds in the morning for your Cattleya orchid to get unfiltered light and put them during midday to diffuse the harsh sun rays.
Do not expose the Cattleya orchid to too much sunlight as the plant’s leaves can be scorched or may turn yellow. The Cattleya orchid may stop flowering and have darker leaves if placed in a spot with little to no light. hence, make sure the Cattleya orchid is receiving moderate light.
If the orchid plant is not getting enough light, it will have leggy stems as it will be trying to reach out for the sunlight.
Get a grow light to remedy this problem. We recommend that you use the grow light with the blue spectrum as it provides enough light for your orchid beauties to grow happily. You should regularly rotate the Cattleya orchid for it to achieve balanced growth.
– Soil Requirements
Grow your Cattleya in soilless media such as perlite, tree fern fiber, fir bark, coconut husk chips, or horticultural charcoal. Such media mimic the natural growing conditions of the Cattleya orchid. These potting mixes drain water properly and retain moisture for a long time.
Consider adding sphagnum moss to the growth medium to improve water retention so that the potting media will not dry faster. For example, if you are growing the Cattleya percivaliana, you should add 20 to 25 percent of sphagnum moss to the potting mix.
– Temperature Requirements
The ideal temperature for the Cattleya orchid is between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Low night temperatures enhance strong growth and flower bud initiation.
Under favorable temperatures, the Cattleya schroederae produces the best growths and the flowers’ life span can be increased to around six weeks. You should keep your Cattleya orchid indoors in winter to protect it from freezing temperatures and cold drafts that can kill the plant.
The Cattleya orchid plants can tolerate high temperatures that are around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperatures rise to 90 degrees and above, make sure you increase humidity levels and ventilation for your plants to cope. Temperatures that are below 55 degrees Fahrenheit should be avoided because they halt the orchid’s growth.
– Humidity Requirements
Grow Cattleya orchids in an environment with average to high humidity levels of 50 to 80 percent. The color of the Cattleya orchid’s leaves remains vibrant in these conditions. Be careful of the high humidity as it can cause the development of fungi.
Use a hygrometer to test humidity levels so that you can make adjustments as necessary. The orchid plants can suffer dry air in winter so you can use a humidifier to increase the humidity levels.
You should constantly check if the humidifier’s reservoir needs a water refill. You can also consider misting in the mornings or using a pebble tray to increase the levels of humidity.
Nonetheless, if you are using a pebble tray, make sure the pot is not sitting in water to prevent root rot.
– Fertilizing Requirements
The Cattleya orchid can grow well without fertilizers but adding them does not cause any harm to your plants. Adding fertilizers provides your orchid with more nutrients that are necessary for blooming. Use a well-balanced water-soluble orchid fertilizer that is diluted to quarter-strength.
Apply the fertilizer after every watering during the growing season. Do not over-fertilize the Cattleya orchid to avoid root burn. Too high amounts of fertilizers also cause vigorous growth of the plant’s leaves while sabotaging flower production. Please note that you should flush the mineral salts buildup with plain water once every month.
You may refrain from applying fertilizers in winter when the orchid plant is dormant. If you decide to fertilize your plant in winter, do so after every third watering. The Cattleya orchid prefers to be under-fertilized than over-application of the feed.
– Pruning Requirements
Pruning is not necessary for this plant unless there are dying, infected, or mature leaves. You may begin by using a sharp, clean, and sterilized knife or pruning shear to trim the leaves. A sharp tool will leave a clean cut that can easily heal.
You should prune the Cattleya orchid in summer when the plant is actively growing. This way, the Cattleya orchid will establish itself at a faster rate. Make sure you water the orchid after pruning to reduce stress.
Propagate the Cattleya orchid in summer using the rhizomes. The rhizomes have many growth points as it belongs to the sympodial orchids. They develop roots underground and the pseudobulbs grow upward to become the new Cattleya orchid. Use a clean, disinfected, sharp shear, or a pair of scissors to cut the rhizome with at least three bulbs.
You may also use the rhizomes without the pseudobulbs to propagate the Cattleya orchid. Prepare the pot with a new potting medium that consists of perlite, charcoal, and fir bark, using a ratio of 10:20:70. Plant the rhizome in the pot and water it thoroughly.
You must keep the substrate moist until the new Cattleya orchid has established itself in its new home.
Like any other orchid, the Cattleya is also prone to pests and diseases. Regular checks are needed so that you can identify these problems at an early stage and deal with them accordingly.
The scales are brown, circular, headless, and legless sucking pests. Female scales attack the Cattleya orchid most. The scales do not migrate once they reach maturity; they just multiply. These pests suck the plant’s sap from the new leaves, thereby affecting the growth of your Cattleya orchid.
Once you notice any sign of scales, isolate the affected Cattleya orchid. Prune the affected parts of the Cattleya orchid and commence treatment immediately. Use Neem oil spray or rubbing alcohol to kill the pests.
Thrips also feast by sucking the plant’s juice on leaves, flowers, and petals. The affected Cattleya orchid’s leaves turn yellow, and the plant can die if not treated in time.
Always trim unhealthy leaves and remove the debris around the Cattleya orchid to reduce the risk of being affected. The thrips hide on the undersides of the papery sheaths from the pseudobulbs so you should remove the dried ones.
Use yellow sticky traps, Neem oil, or synthetic pesticides like malathion to control thrips.
– Root Rot
Overwatering causes the development of fungi. The infected Cattleya orchid will have black, mushy roots and can produce an unpleasant odor. If the disease is not treated early, it may cause stunted growth and wilt. The Cattleya orchid can even die.
Monitor your watering patterns to avoid overwatering. Also, make sure the pot has enough drainage holes for excess water to escape. Use a well-draining potting mix to reduce the risk of waterlogging.
Isolate the infected Cattleya orchid and trim the damaged parts if the infection is light. Use fungicides to treat the infection. A cinnamon solution can also be used to destroy the fungi. You can then repot the Cattleya orchid in a new pot with a fresh substrate.
– Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew affects the plant’s leaves, new growths, flowers, and stems. The Cattleya orchid might have white powdery spots on the affected parts but usually on the leaves. The fungus prefers dry, warm climatic conditions that are accompanied by high humidity levels.
Misting can cause the development of powdery mildew if the leaves stay wet for a long time. Make sure enough air is circulating in the room to quicken the rate of evaporation.
Also, place the plant on a spot where it will receive enough sunlight. The powdery mildew also absorbs the nutrients and water, causing serious harm to the Cattleya orchid if left untreated for an extended period.
Apply fungicides that contain sulfur as the main ingredient once a week for three to four weeks. The fungicides can treat and prevent the development of powdery mildew.
– Collar Rot
Collar rot is a fungal disease that develops due to poor air circulation around the Cattleya orchid. High humidity levels also contribute to the development of collar rot. If your Cattleya is infected, you may see the pseudobulbs rotting and becoming mushy.
The disease spreads quickly to the base of the plant. So, if you are misting your Cattleya orchid, check for collar rot regularly. As soon as you notice the collar rot on your Cattleya orchid, trim the infected parts. Also, treat the orchid with fungicides.
If the Cattleya orchid is heavily infected, destroy the whole plant. If you increase the humidity levels, you can reduce the risk of infection by improving air circulation using a fan. Also, expose the Cattleya orchid to bright light so that the plant’s leaves dry faster after misting.
Edema occurs if the Cattleya orchid is now absorbing water at a faster rate than it can lose through transpiration. If you notice blister-like lesions and swelling cells, know that your Cattleya orchid is suffering from edema.
Edema cannot be treated but if you carefully follow the recommended care tips for your plant, the disease can be prevented. Do not overwater your Cattleya orchid. Also, make sure you reduce the frequency of watering in winter. Water your Cattleya orchid in the morning and make sure that excess water is drained.
The Cattleya orchid is not poisonous to animals and human beings. It can be used to decorate food and beverages. The Cattleya orchid can also be consumed in salads like the mossiae, trianaei, and crimson/ruby-lipped.
Frequently Asked Questions
– Is Repotting the Cattleya Orchid Important?
Yes, you must repot your Cattleya orchid when it has outgrown the pot. Also, repot when the potting medium is no longer draining excess water. Do not repot the flowering plant or the Cattleya orchid that has the blooms already.
Repotting Cattleya should be done every two to three years in spring. The new pot should be one size larger than the old one. The pot should have enough space to accommodate two new pseudobulbs every year for at least two years. Also, use the new substrate that is free from pests and diseases
Gently pull the Cattleya orchid from the old pot, remove the potting mix, and rinse its roots. Then, trim the dead pseudobulbs and roots so that the repotted orchid plant will be free from any disease. Place your Cattleya orchid in a new pot and cover it with the potting mix. Press the substrate firmly around the plant so that your Cattleya may not wobble around.
You have learned all the plant care tips that are crucial for your Cattleya orchid’s vivid growth. You now dare to get one for yourself. Here is a quick brief of the main ideas:
- The Cattleya orchid grows well in bright, dappled light.
- Use a well-draining potting mix that contains fir bark, coconut husk chips, perlite, and sphagnum moss.
- You should allow two-thirds of the potting mix to dry before adding some water.
- Scales, root rot, and powdery mildew are common pests and diseases.
- The Cattleya orchid prefers relatively high humidity levels.
It’s now time to get your Cattleya species and start parenting it the best way. Enjoy gardening while beautifying your home!
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