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Cattleya (pronounced KAT-lee-a ) was the orchid genus that triggered “Orchidmania” in Victorian England. There are now countless thousands of hybrids available but for many it is the species that possess a special ethereal beauty.
Cattleyas are epiphytes. A plant which grows perched upon another plant but does not derive its nourishment from it haling mostly from the rainforests of South America. They are the quintessential tropical orchid often having huge opulent blooms which are exotically perfumed and are pollinated by hummingbirds.
They are an orchid that requires experience to grow outside of the tropics. The easiest species to try are the smaller flowering C. bowringiana, C.skinneri, C. intermedia and C. aurantiaca. Some Cattleyas have recently been reclassified and may be seen under the generic name Guarianthe.
The easiest large flowering Cattleya to grow is Cattleya labiata.
Intermediate. Night temperatures between 14° and 16°C with a daytime temperature rise of about 10°C.
High all year (bright indirect). They must have maximum light through the winter to assist the maturation of their huge pseudobulbs and flower sheaths. They are ideal candidates for growing under artificial lighting.
Plentiful during the summer then stopped during the winter until the new roots are produced in the late spring. Overwatering will rot their roots so they must be grown in an exceptionally free-draining media such as large bark chippings. Always allow the media to almost dry out between watering.