Cattleya Orchids – 3 Little-Known Tips for Growing Cattleyas

Cattleya Orchid CareThe Secret Of Successfully Growing Cattleyas

Growing orchids such as the cattleya is said to be one of the most difficult tasks an orchid grower can get himself into. And this is with valid reasons. Unlike ordinary orchids, this species requires very specific conditions to be successfully cultivated. And if you have done this properly you would have one of the most beautiful species of orchids and at the same time one of the most expensive.

Orchids, when categorized according to importance and beauty, cattleyas will certainly top the list. That is why no matter how difficult and intricate growing cattleya orchids may be, many growers still embark on the journey and try their green thumbs on them.

Knowing the fundamentals of growing orchids will not suffice with this species of orchid. They have certain requirements a grower must follow to ensure success. The basic sunlight, water and fertilizer rules do not apply to this type of orchid. In fact, because of their “needy” disposition they were once the orchids that expert growers dubbed as the “untouchables” for beginners. It is said that to grow a cattleya you must know it personally first.

To help you with your journey of intimately knowing this species of orchid, here are 3 little-known tips in growing them:

Grow Me Inside

If you wish to successfully grow orchids such as cattleyas, then you have got to have some kind of greenhouse. These orchids are virtually impossible, if not very difficult, to grow outdoors. Yes, there are certain places, such as some parts of Florida and other nearby states, that they can successfully thrive in, but even there they can be very difficult and complicated to handle. Growing them indoors on the other hand, has been found to be quite successful.

Inside structures, such as greenhouses and Wardian cases, the correct humidity and warmth can be controlled and therefore achieved. For these plants to flourish properly there must be as much as 60% to 70% humidity surrounding them during the day and a temperature not lower than 55°F to 60°F. Not following this certain set of conditions will result to a wilted plant or worse, a dead one.

More Sunlight But Not Too Much

Another tricky part of growing cattleya orchids is its light requirements. Compared to your normal orchid, they require more light but too much can kill it. The tropical sunlight may be the perfect kind of light for growing these orchids, but here on our side of the world, this species of orchid cannot take the quality of summer sunlight. If you wish to be successful in growing cattleyas, then you need to follow this simple rule when giving them sunlight. It’s a lot of work, but it is very effective.

Place them in direct sunlight during summer only in the mornings and late afternoons. From 11:00AM to 3:00PM in the afternoon, do NOT expose them to direct sunlight or they’ll burn. If you are finding this difficult to do manually you can try to place them under the shade of a larger tree or plant. This will provide the same protection as moving them manually at certain time periods.

Osmunda – The Perfect Match

When growing orchids that are ephiphytes (like the cattleya), the best choice for a potting medium is osmunda. This potting medium has a lot of fiber, moisture, and is a good source of humidity for an orchid. Like any other orchid, one sure way to kill it is to over water it. A good way to know if you are over watering is your potting medium will start to grow ferns and moss.

When potting, be sure to align the grains of the osmunda parallel to the axis of the pot. This will aid in the proper drainage of water. Never ever use too much osmunda; just enough fiber from this medium will ensure that the roots of your cattleyas will be thriving.

Remember when growing orchids like cattleyas, be sure to follow these simple little-known tips to ensure your success. Cattleyas are one of the most wonderful and easy enough to grow species of orchids, just as long as you follow their specific requirements for proper cultivation.

To learn the complete ins and outs of growing cattleya orchids, and take your orchid growing to the next level, download your copy of the Amazon best seller: “Cattleya Orchid Care: The Ultimate Pocket Guide to Cattleya Orchids


Your Comments

29 Comments so far

  1. karen hagan says:

    I have grown cattleyas in my house for 20 years. I have over 50 some are 4 feet tall and bloom all winter. They are all different types of Cattleya. I live in Northern Virginia. I do put them out in the spring and cover them with a tarp if the temp. goes below 60 at night. I do not do anything special buying the bark at a home depot or lowes. I fertilize them once a week and repot when needed. When buying one with fungus recently, I found that the Green Cure fungicide worked miricales and cured the plant. I never have an orchid die even when dividing one. When in my house they are placed in windows with some sun light.

  2. Lola Edwards says:

    Where can I purchase osmund for potting orchids. Thanks

    • Mary Ann says:

      Hi Lola,

      I would suggest doing a search in your area for a local orchid grower or for orchid supplies. Then call around and see if they can direct you to a local shop to get some. You can also get other potting materials by going to: Jim’s Supplies

  3. Jose Banaybanay says:

    Hello, Mary Ann.

    I agree with you that Cattleya orchids are for experts ‘coz they take a lot of time to grow and bloom. I have dendrobiums and oncidiums and they bloom profusely, unlike Cattleya.

    For me, Cattleya is quite challenging to grow even in a tropical place like my country, Philippines; even though we don’t experience snow here. My friend gave me an Cattleya plant last September. It is already mature when he gave it to me. I consistently applied fertilizers, right light and watering but still no flowers.

    I would like to ask if you can recommend a book on how to grow Cattleya in tropical climates (like Hawaii & Philippines). Thanks.

  4. thess says:

    i don’t think it’s so difficult growing Cattleya specially in a tropical country,since i was growing up my mother has many Cattleya in her garden she just watering the plants made from the rice she just was it from the kitchen for cooking or some times rain water.

  5. Ed Brookes says:

    Osmunda is as rare as angel feathers. We are now trying coconut husk chunks with polystyrene to keep it more open & well drained. In the tropics, day length also has a very strong influence on blooming of cattleyas. They need the shorter days to initiate flowering, That may be why the Phillipines are not ideal for flowering some of the catts. There are summer blooming hybrids which should be more obliging with blooms in the tropics. If you have the climate & space, teak & cedar hanging baskets with no potting medium at all are wonderful for large cattleyas. Lots of water is needed, & overwatering is hardly possible. The roots grow all over the slats & hang down in curtains. Eventually you will have a giant plant that is a challenge to divide. If well grown, you will have masses of flowers. My Sylvia Fry had 5 leads & spikes last year, with 17 blooms. There would have been more flowers, but a bird had built a nest in the basket, & the buds did not enjoy the traffic!Birds rule here.

    • Mary Ann says:

      LOL! That’s a shame about the bird! Are you noticing good results with the coconut husk chunks? – Mary Ann

  6. merle jane says:

    thanks for all the help i have just started out growing them so hopeing i can do it

  7. Ferdi says:

    I have some Cattleya orchids also which I have nourished for the last 15 years. These orchids were originally brought from Florida and for the first time I’m having 3 of my plants showing some blooms. I live in Montreal Canada and the climate here does present some challenges in raising Catts but my perseverance is finally paying off.
    But the way I have 18 cattleyas and I have them under florescent lamps for 12 hours a day. I bring them outside once the weather becomes warm which is usually around the June.

    • Mary Ann says:

      That’s great, Ferdi! I’m sure the climatic change has presented quite a challenge. It sounds like you’ve done a great job in spite of that. Thank you for sharing with us. Please keep us updated! – Mary Ann

  8. Vanessa says:

    Hi Mary Ann ,I have a question for you .I live in Trinidad and I would like to know if that method would apply for the baby cattleya also ? Thank you and great job .

    • Mary Ann says:

      For a baby, you probably want a finer potting mix like sphagnum. Also keep them slightly warmer at night. You’re in a good climate, so they should do well. 🙂

      – Mary Ann

  9. S.C.Stewart says:

    My mother gave me one on my 50th birthday. I’m now 64. I’ve divided it several times and now have lots. I water once a week in summer, and 10-14 days in winter. Drench and drain. They sit in south sun. Touch leaves in summer. If warm to the touch, back them up out of direct south sun. I feed every 2-3 weeks in summer, varying fertilizers from seaweed to fish emulsion to orchid food and orchid bloom boosters. (It takes a lot of energy to produce those showy, aromatic, prom corsages.) I even feed in winter, but sparingly about every 5 weeks and just with ordinary plant food like Schultz. Less winter watering as well. (I live in the midwest with snowy winters.) I spray occasionally but not regularly, and I do use a little humidifier in the room, but not just for the orchids, but for wood furniture and me! I’ve been rewarded in the fall with gorgeous long-lived blooms that are fragrant late night to early morning. Biggest hassle? Repotting. But a necessary evil due to break down of bark in orchid mix. I haven’t found their care to be any more difficult than some other plants. In fact, I’ve killed easier plants, but the orchids are going strong!

  10. Edith says:

    I have a cattleya and it is looking pretty bad. The roots are there but not many of them and the leaves are drooping except for two small growths that are coming out now. What can I do to save them? I repotted yesterday.

  11. Edith says:

    Thanks, but what is sphag and bag method?

  12. debby says:

    hi, i have had this orchid for ten years it has flowered a number of times always around my birthday in august,but at the moment here in australia it is summer and a very hot one woke yesterday to find two amazing flowers,have no idea why now can you tell me?

    • Mary Ann says:

      There are a lot of factors and missing information in your comment. It would be very difficult for me to point exactly to what caused a random blooming. It’s a good thing though. Your plant is healthy. Enjoy the blooms and continue to care for it. It sounds like you have a wonderful plant there. 🙂 – Mary Ann

  13. Anne says:

    Hi from Australia. I have twelve Catts someone threw away. In a shade house they get morning sun afternoon shade. I foliar feed at all times. They look very healthy and new shoots on most. It is hot right now so I mist three or four times a day. Two have flowered, while others putting out new growth. They seem happy where they are situated. Anne.

  14. Joyce says:

    Can these be grown in lava rock?

  15. Aron James says:

    My orchid don’t bloom 2 year’s ago but I care for it. What should I do???

    • Mary Ann says:

      Hi Aron, I would encourage you to continue caring for it. 🙂 Many times there’s not enough of a temperature drop at night to encourage blooming. You could explore that possibility. It’s hard to tell you what you need to change without knowing any details. Here’s an article that may also help. Only you can compare the suggestions with what you are doing and make adjustments accordingly. 🙂 – Mary Ann

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