Cattleya Cultural Tips
John Robinson - Robertson Orchids – Wholesale and Retail Sales Worldwide
The Cattleya family can be broadly summarized as plants from the Genera Brassavola, Laelia, Cattleya, Sophronitis and combinations of these. They are mostly epiphytic in nature (with the exception of some rock growing Laelia).
LIGHT REQUIREMENTS - All plants broadly referred to as Cattleyas need relatively high levels of light to grow and flower well. In frost free areas, 70% shade through the hot Summer months and 50% through the Winter seems to produce good results. Cooler climates may find that 50% all year is adequate. Conversely, in extreme heat extra shading will minimize heat stress and sunburn.
POTTING MEDIA - Being generally Epiphytic (“Tree Growing”) in nature, Cattleyas. For most plants, a medium grade of treated orchid bark is sufficient. Some growers find the addition of 8-10mm size charcoal is beneficial, along with polystyrene balls or coarse perlite. Some growers also use sphagnum moss, however this is not best for the average home grower, with watering and feeding accuracy more critical. Always use treated bark.
WATERING – All Cattleyas have pseudobulbs capable of storing moisture during dry periods, so allow plants to just dry slightly between watering. As a VERY BROAD guide, once a week in Winter and twice a week in Summer would be adequate. During very hot dry Summer periods 3-4 times a week may be needed and conversely a wet cold Winter may mean no watering for 1-2 weeks. A solid roof cover during the Winter to give rain and Frost protection will generally give best results.
Give the plants a good soaking right through the potting media and over the foliage as well. In very hot Summer weather we tend to water late in the afternoons while in Winter mid morning is best.
FERTILISING The use of a liquid fertilizer designed for orchids once a week is beneficial during the growing months. Keen growers use a “growth” style fertilizer (Higher Nitrogen, lower Potassium) at the beginning of the growing period (Sept/Oct) and then change to a blossom booster style (Lower Nitrogen, higher Potassium) Jan/Feb to optimize growth and flowering throughout the year. We avoid slow release style Fertilizers.
MINIATURE CATTLEYA- In general, mini cats have the genus Sophronitis evident somewhere in their breeding background, which explains their improved tolerance to lower temperatures than the larger exhibition or Blc types, and their more compact growth habit. Culturally the above cultural tips still apply but we find they enjoy more moisture and dislike very high temperatures.
BOOK AVAILABLE – For more information we produce a small booklet “Beginning with Orchids” which offers basic growing advice for new growers priced at $5.50 + Postage.
262-290 Blackall Range Road West Woombye Queensland Australia
Phone: 07 5442 1913 – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.robertsonorchids.com.au