How to Grow Cattleya Orchids

Cattleya Orchid Care

Orchids are the most diverse group of flowering plant on earth. They are prized for their spectacular blossoms, but sadly they are not the easiest houseplant to have. The most common varieties of orchids available to the home grower are phalaenopsis, dendrobium, and cattleya. Cattleya orchids, like most orchids, are largely epiphytic (they grow in trees), and most come from the rain forests of South America.

Cattleya orchids have an intersting growth pattern. The plant has a main rhizome. From the rhizome the plant produces swollen stem bases called psuedobulds. These bulbs store water for the plant. New psuedobulds are produced each year and the old ones eventually die. Flowers are only produces on new psuedobulds.

Grow cattleya orchids in a traditional, well draining, orchid potting mix. Water the plant well, but allow it to dry out completely between watering (as it would up in the trees). Water it more often during the summer. Give them bright, indirect light, but avoid direct light. These orchids seem to like a 10 degree difference between daytime and nightime temperatures. This is accomplished easily by growing them outside in the warmer months. New blooms come in the spring or fall, signaled by temperature and day length change. Fertilize weekly during the growing season with a diluted fertilizer (by half).

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