The cattleya orchid also known as the “Corsage Orchid” is known for large, showy and sometimes fragrant flowers. Some of the most stunning orchids in cultivation are cattleyas, with huge flowers that can measure eight inches across and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Cattleya is native to Central and South America and because of their ease of growth and sheer beauty, cattleyas are the most hybridized of all orchids! There are thousands upon thousands of registered hybrids. Cattleya are not difficult plants, and their flowers are incredibly rewarding. Depending on the species, they may produce just a few showy flowers or bunches of smaller, waxy flowers.
The cattleya orchids like bright light. They can even be acclimated to some direct sunlight, although keep from direct summer sunlight. They will not flower without plenty of light. In the right light conditions, the leaves will be apple green. Darker leaves might indicate too little light, while yellow or brown leaves might indicate too much direct sunlight.
Cattleya are sympodial orchids that grow from an underground rhizome. They typically send up new pseudobulbs in the spring. During the growing season, water heavily, but do not allow them to sit in water. Cut water back when the flowers begin to emerge from their sheaths–water in these sheaths will rot the immature flowers. A well-watered cattleya will have fat lead pseudobulbs.
The ideal day temperature is 23-29 degrees C, while the ideal night temperature is 15-18 degrees C.
During the growing season, fertilize with a weak orchid fertilizer weekly. During the rest period, fertilizer every other week.
They will do well in most orchid mixes. When repotting a cattleya, make sure there is enough room for the rhizome to produce at least two new pseudobulbs before it hits the edge of the pot. Typically, repotting is done in spring, at the beginning of the growing season. Cattleya can also be slab-mounted on tree fern or logs.