Cattleya - Orchidaceae - Cultivation, care and flowering of the Cattleya orchid

Cattleya - Orchidaceae - Cultivation, care and flowering of the Cattleya orchid



Cultivation techniques

Pages 1 -2






: Angiosperms


: Monocotyledons











: see page 2


To the genre Cattleya belong to plants native to the tropical areas of central and south America. The genus includes about 60 species mostly EPIPHITEand to a small extentLITHOPHITE to development SIMPODIAL, with pseudobulbs of variable length from a few centimeters to the meter which bear at their extremities one or two sessile leaves, with a thick and leathery consistency.

The stems (pseudobulbs) they arise one after the other from a rhizomatous stem with a horizontal bearing.

The inflorescences they are, in almost all species (with some rare exceptions), terminal and consist of 2 to 10 pedunculated flowers which develop at the apex of the stem.

The flower it is large and the petals and sepals are generally of the same color while the labellum, very developed, has wavy edges, frayed and decorated with showy spots with colors often very different from the rest of the flower.

The flower, as in all orchids, has only one anther that contains oval / rounded organs that contain the pollen gathered in masserrelle called pollinodes than in the Cattleyathere are eight of which four sterile (for more details see the article:Anatomy of orchids).

The different species are often very different from each other and have therefore generated many problems in their classification until it was decided to simply classify them in monofoliate and bifoliate:

  • the monofoliate, are those that develop a single leaf and have the particularity of making flowers a little larger than the bifoliate and in smaller numbers;
  • the bifoliate they carry two and sometimes even three leaves.

The Cattleya they are very rustic plants and have no particular needs in terms of cultivation.


The Cattleya they have a rhizomatous stem which develops horizontally with large ones roots fleshy that slip into the substrate, reach the edge of the pot and, passing it, adhere to the external walls.

The stem emits a large one at its apex vegetative bud from which one develops pseudobulbous stem at the top of which one or two / three are formed leaves.

The pseudobulbous stem is formed during a vegetative cycle of the plant whose duration is less than one year. At each beginning of a vegetative period, a new pseudobulbous stem is released which forms a few centimeters in front of the previous one as the rhizomatous stem has in the meantime lengthened by a few centimeters. Over time there will be a more or less long row of pseudobulbs of which the last is the youngest. Therefore in the same plant we find: a pseudobulb, the last one, which is growing; the penultimate in bloom; the third to last having flowered the previous year remains in the plant with the leaves but will no longer bloom; the fourth last with yellowed leaves; the fifth last is there without leaves, now dry or in danger of extinction.

There Cattleya it is therefore a walking plant with its horizontal stem and moves from the center of the pot outwards and in the end it may be in such an eccentric position with respect to the center of the pot that it requires repotting.

It can also happen that other vegetative buds are formed or the emission of a lateral bud in the stem. In this way the plant will proceed in two or more different directions.

The Cattleya they are plants that need a rest period approximately between October - April, slightly differentiated in some species where it can be shorter. During this period, spraying must be suspended (October) but watering must be continued for those plants that clearly show that they are still vegetating and watering must be suspended as they complete the vegetation. In any case, by October all will be at rest and since then, no water but lots of light and lots of air. Towards April, to stimulate the vegetative restart, the first watering is done by immersing the pot in water and letting the substrate soak well, after which the excess water is allowed to drain and it is cultivated as always by resuming spraying and fertilizing.


The Cattleya they need temperatures, during the winter, around 13-15 ° C as minimum temperatures and 22-23 ° C as maximum temperature. In summer, temperatures should not exceed 30-32 ° C.

It is important that the temperature difference between day and night does not exceed 5-6 ° C.

It is essential to adjust the temperature to the light. If it is very hot and the light is poor, it can create imbalances in its metabolism.

The Cattleya they love the air therefore it is important that there is good ventilation but without drafts that are poorly tolerated.

(For more clarification on the temperature and ventilation of orchids see the article: Orchid temperature and ventilation).


There Cattleya being native to tropical areas, it loves the light which is its first necessity. Abundant exposure to the sun in the morning is very welcome, never in the central hours of the day. Growing it at home, the ideal location is in a window facing east or west; in the South it could be fine if you have the foresight to protect it from excessive insolation. Exposing it to the north is definitely not recommended as the amount of light is far too little.

(For more clarification on orchid light see the article: Light needs of orchids).


There Cattleya it needs regular watering which must be done as soon as you realize that the substratum is almost dry. The frequency varies according to the size of the pot (a small pot will dry sooner than a large pot which, conversely, will take longer to dry). One method is to weigh the jar. If it is light then you have to water it, vice versa if it is heavy.

Maintaining a humid environment around the plant is crucial. Now, in our homes it is not always easy to be able to simulate a corner of tropical forest. To be able to get closer to this we can place the pot that contains the plant on a saucer (or other container) in which you will have placed some expanded clay or gravel in which you will always keep a little water. In this way the orchid roots will not come into contact with the water which evaporating will ensure a humid environment around it as well as spray the leaves once a day.

Keep in mind that the optimal humidity for this orchid is not particularly high, however, as it is around 70%. Obviously all this is in proportion to the temperature: high temperatures will require greater humidity but in this case it is essential to guarantee the plant good ventilation to avoid dangerous water stagnation that could cause the onset of dangerous diseases.

It is good practice, for the health of all our plants, to equip the radiators with a humidifier so as not to allow the air in the room to become too dry.

We also remember that a lack of water causes a concentration in the substrate of the nutritional elements that you have gradually administered, becoming extremely harmful for the plant.

(For more information on orchid watering see the article: Watering and humidity of orchids).


There Cattleya it should be fertilized every 15-20 days with a balanced fertilizer and varying their ratio between N: P: K (nitrogen: phosphorus: potassium) according to the stage of development of the plant.

The logic to follow when administering fertilizers is as follows: to favor the vegetative restart of the plant, a greater quantity of nitrogen (N) is administered to the orchid and that is to say the formula 30:10:10 (N: P: K) is used which means: 30 parts of nitrogen, 10 parts of phosphorus (P) and 10 parts of potassium (K).

When the flowering period the nitrogen is decreased and the potassium is increased and therefore the formula 10:30:20 is used.

During the other periods we use the balanced formula 20:20:20.

Fertilizers must be dissolved in irrigation water in a very low percentage, 0.5% if used frequently (twice a week) or 1% if used once a week. In any case, never exceed 1 gr per liter of water. Obviously these indications are relevant to inert substrates, that is to say that they do not bring any nutritional elements to the plant (in this regard see the entry: Type of substrate and repotting). Doses will be decreased if a non-inert substrate is used.

It is essential that fertilizations are carried out with the substrate wet to avoid dangerous concentrations of mineral salts that could damage the roots.

It is important never to let the substrate dry completely as there would be an excessive concentration of mineral salts. It would be advisable that after a certain number of fertilizations (4 or 5) watering is carried out without fertilizer in order to rinse the substrate and lower the salt concentration.

(For more information on orchid fertilization you can consult the article: Fertilization of orchids).


There Cattleya it is repotted when the substrate has deteriorated or when the plant comes out of the pot or the roots no longer find any support.

The optimal period for repotting is the vegetative restart, that is when the plant emits new roots. However, it is important to wait until these have reached a length of at least 3-4 cm before repotting.

Obviously the best arrangement, as epiphytic plants, would be the possibility of leaving the roots free to cling to a branch or a trunk. But beyond these decidedly complex arrangements to do indoors, we will choose a suitable container (there are many types on the market but if you want to save even a suitably perforated ice cream container that's fine) but we will take particular care in choosing the substrate whose the first characteristic must be that it is well draining, that allows good aeration of the roots and that it has the ability to retain humidity.

In this regard, theOsmunda, very difficult to find and in its replacement you can use the bark of size between 2 and 3 cm with the addition of a little sphagnum peat or charcoal and various inert materials such as polystyrene.

Before repotting, wash the bark thoroughly by leaving it immersed for a few days in water in order to eliminate the dust present, remove the impurities that end up on the bottom of the container and thus ensure their perfect hydration.

If the roots adhere too strongly to the pot at the time of flaring, it is advisable to immerse the pot for about 30 minutes in just warm water. If this doesn't work, then cut the pot. Do not force the roots which could be damaged.

You will have to arrange the rhizome horizontally, almost at the height of the edge of the pot, making sure to arrange the bark around the roots.

Make sure there is some space between the edges of the pot and the roots to prevent the same situation from happening again the following year.

To have a tidy plant, considering that the Cattleya they often go their own way, you can follow the pseudobulbs as they grow and secure them to a guardian.

Immediately after repotting, wait two to three weeks before watering to allow the roots to adjust to the new pot.

(For more information on repotting orchids you can consult the article: Type of substrate and repotting of orchids).


As for the diseases of the Cattleya refer to the chapter: Diseases and care of orchids.


The genre Cattleya it was discovered in 1924 by the botanist John Lindley. It happened that William Cattley of Barnet, a wealthy English grower and passionate collector of exotic plants, he found fleshy leaves among the plants sent to him that served as packaging. Intrigued, he cultivated some and one of them flourished. As she did not know what it was, he had her study by John Lindley who classified it as a new genus and gave it the name of Cattleya from its discoverer.

There Cattleya is the national flower of some countries: theCattleya Trianaeof Columbia, laCattleya Mossiaeof Venezuela, theCattleya Skinneryof Costa Rica.


You see: Orchids - The language of flowers and plants.

Pages 1 -2

Video: Ορχιδέα ΚατλέγιαCattleya Orchid και τα μυστικά της φροντίδας της.