Cattleya Orchid Care
Wild Cattleya orchids grow from Costa Rica in Central America to the southern end of tropical South America. When the last flower has fallen from your Cattleya orchid, it is a good idea to cut the flower spike all the way down the stem. To help the plant seal the wound, apply melted candle wax or cinnamon powder!
A well-draining potting medium is an important part of proper Cattleya orchid care. Coarse fir bark or medium coarse fir bark is a good choice. If the potting medium does not drain well enough, the Cattleya orchid will not thrive. The potting medium will also be susceptible to green mould and snow mould infestations.
The Cattleya orchid hails from the tropics and requires warm temperatures. A healthy and well established Cattleya orchid can usually cope with occasional temperature extremes, but such instances should be avoided. Prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures is highly detrimental to the plant. If you want to provide your plant with ideal Cattleya orchid care, you keep it in an environment where the day temperature stays between and 75 and 85˚ F (24 and 29˚ C). The recommended night temperature is 60-65˚ F (15.5-18˚ C).
Provide your Cattleya orchids with large amounts of light. They should however be shaded from intense mid-day sun between 11 am and 3 pm. During the morning and afternoon they will love receive full sun. If the leaves turn yellow, your Cattleya orchid is probably exposed to too intense sun-light. If the leaves instead lose their light green colour and become dark green, the plant needs more sun.
Cattleya orchids are epiphytes and in the wild they grow on tree branches and similar. They are therefore ill adapted to a life where they are forced to grow in a soggy medium. Letting the potting medium dry out thoroughly before you water the orchid is recommended. The best Cattleya orchid care is to mimic the natural habitat of the orchids, where the plant is allowed to dry out before the next rain.
A high-nitrogen fertilizer (25-9-9) can be used 12 months a year. 1 teaspoon per month is usually enough. It can be a good idea to split up the servings over several days instead of giving your orchid one massive feeding.
Repot your Cattleya orchid when it has outgrown its pot. This will usually happen every 2-3 year. Do not repot more frequently, unless the potting medium show clear signs of deteriorating. A potting medium that turns sour or becomes infested with mould should be exchanged at once. The same is true for a medium that does no longer drain well.