Cattleya Orchids

Cattleyas are a diverse group of sympodial orchids and includes associated genera like Brassavola, Laelia, Schomburgkia, Broughtonia and Sophronitis along with their hybrids. They are one of the most popular group of orchids simply because they have huge, colourful flowers on compact plants enabling them to be grown successfully even if the hobbyist only has as little space as a windowsill. With today\'s nuclear families opting to live in apartments, Cattleyas have turned out to become the orchids of choice.

Light: Cattleyas should ideally be grown under shade nets providing 50-60% shade. With this amount of light, the leaves should be a medium green. Too much light can turn the leaves yellow while too little light can cause the leaves to become a dark green. Light is essential to help convert fertilizer into food for the plant as well as to promote blooming. In the tropics, where high light levels are associated with heat, it would be unwise to expose Cattleyas to sunlight between 11am and 3pm.

Water: Cattleyas since they have pseudobulbs, can store adequate amounts of food and water and can therefore be allowed to go dry between waterings. Watering should be dictated by the type of pot used. A clay pot will dry up faster than a plastic pot and will therefore need more frequent watering. Similarly, those grown in water retentive media like coconut husk can be watered less often compared to media like charcoal or LECA pebbles. In areas that experience dry summers, a misting setup would be beneficial. Watering should be scaled down in places with cold winters as plants reduce transpiration. Higher temperatures require more watering and so does a windy location.

Humidity: Cattleyas being epiphytes are found in high humidity zones in the wild. In such a setup the humidity varies between 50-100% at various times of the year. Humidity can be increased by either misting your plants if you have a greenhouse setup or placing a pebble filled tray beneath the pot filled with water if your plants are on a balcony or windowsill. Ensure that water from the tray does not enter the pot.

Temperature: Cattleyas can tolerate a wide temperature range between 100 C to 350 C. High temperatures during summer can be controlled by watering them during the hottest part of the day and increasing air circulation around the plants. Cattleyas cannot tolerate frost, so it would be ideal to move your plant indoors especially during the night in places that experience a very cold winter. Ensure that your plants are dry by nightfall on very cold nights.

Media and Fertilizer: In monsoon-fed regions, Cattleyas should be grown in open pots with coarse media like large chunks of charcoal. In the rest of the country, open pots with water-retaining media like LECA(lightweight expanded clay aggregate) pebbles and large chunks of coconut husk can be used. Always remember to use fresh media and clean pots while potting your plants. Cattleyas can be divided so that each division has 3-4 pseudobulbs. Such a divided plant should be staked well in the pot. Repotting them when the new growth is just developing new roots would be ideal so that growth is not set back. Do not fertilize until the roots have taken a good hold on the media. Cattleya seedling should be fed a high nitrogen fertilizer like 30:10:10 at 0.5 g/L of water gradually increasing to 1 g/L until they reach blooming size while adult Cattleyas can be fed a high potassium bloom fertilizer with micronutrients at 2 g/L for good results.

Posted in Culture Sheets

Published on 02/07/2016 15:33:01
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