Types of Orchids

The Cattleya Orchid: What You Should Know


In my new Youtube OrchidCareZone channel, I recently added a video about cattleyas.

One of the most widely cultivated flowery plants in the world is the cattleya. It is best known for its large and fragrant flowers. Its cultivation is more commonly done in the areas of Costa Rica to Southern America. This Orchid plant was named after Sir William Cattley by John Lindley in the year 1824.

The cattleya flower measures up to eight inches across, and boasts different colors and patterns. Unlike other flowering plants, the cattleya grows in the wild; in fact, several dozens of species of the same may not be found in the local gardening centers as much as they are abundant in their natural habitat.

The cattleyas are not sensitive to harsh conditions, though it may be better cultivated in some ideal environment. With this flower’s stunning beauty, uniqueness in terms of its colors and patterns, no other flower can surpass the beauty there is in cattleya.

This particular flower grows better when exposed to bright sources of light. Unlike the other sensitive flowers, the cattleya can handle direct sunlight; but not entirely as warm as that of the summer sun. Having ample light may bring about apple green colored leaves, darker shades meaning a deficiency of light, while brown or yellowish leaves dictate too much light.

The cattleya plant belongs to the sympodial orchid breed. This means that this type of flowering plant grows from an underground rhizome. The cattleya may demand more water during the growing season; but watering should be moderated once the flowers begin to emerge and become visible.

Fertilizing the cattleya plant is not entirely discouraged; but application of fertilizers should be moderated nonetheless—”weakly in weekly” is the ideal, as growers themselves advice. This type of orchid blooms in at its best annually, most often during late summer or winter. It will bloom at the same time each year. Whatever month the plant blooms the first time, it will continue to bloom in that month every year.

Cattleyas grow through the means of creeping rhizones with thick, clinging roots by branches. While repotting this plant for a better growing environment is not unadvised, it may take an entire season for the orchids to recover and grow better. Repotting should only be done only if necessary.

The plant may grow well in clay pellets, pink bark, charcoal, perlite, and any other available well-draining medium. When repotting though, one should ensure that the plant is given enough room for the rhizomes to produce psudobulbs. The ideal time for repotting is during spring, which is the start of the growing season.

Generally, growing and cultivating a cattleya plant is not at all difficult. All it takes is the decisiveness of the aspiring grower. Being able to harvest the flowers of cattleya may be as rewarding. However, it should be noted that not all cattleyas bring about fragrant flowers; nonetheless, they are all equally beautifully colored and unique in pattern. Growing a cattleya entails discipline—too much of light, water, or fertilizer may ruin it altogether; with this, exercise of prudence is required for every aspiring cattleya grower.

Do you grow cattleyas? What’s the coolest trick you’ve found for growing cattleyas? Please tell us about them below by leaving a comment.

For more information about cattleya orchids, here are 3 little-known tips!

Your Comments

10 Comments so far

  1. Christine says:


    I live where rain is unpredictable. Are orchids shouldn’t be exposed to rain? even showers?


    • Mary Ann says:


      They can be rained on, but if you are worried about when they are being watered and how much, it’s easier to keep them inside and control that variable. Here’s some more information about that to help you out:

      – Mary Ann

  2. Christine says:

    Hi again,

    Another question I have is can you use used coffee grounds to fertilize orchids?

    Thanks again.

    • Mary Ann says:

      Hi Christine,

      Thanks for your question. Here’s a link that addresses that. 🙂 Scroll down to get to the pertinent information. 🙂

      – Mary Ann

  3. veena says:

    hi mary ann,

    I live in goa,india where the climate is hot& humid as its along the west coast of india.i wanted to know if orchids from the upper himalayan regions will grow & flower in this area where i live.thanx veena

    • Mary Ann says:

      My first instinct is to say it’s not a good idea, but if you are able to control your orchids’ environment, then you could do it. Here are some tips from people who have done what you are trying to do. Anyone have any other advice? – Mary Ann

  4. sara says:

    I have a big orange cat. It seems it did not like all the wind we had one night. It is on our porch here in Ft Myers. It dropped several blooms. But have more blooms coming on. How much of a breeze/wind can they take? The nursery I go to here has fans all around.

    • Mary Ann says:

      It should be like a nice breeze on the beach… not a direct in-your-face wind. So create nice air movement in the room in general. 🙂 – Mary Ann

  5. sara says:


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