How to grow and care for Cattleya Orchids Indoors

Indoor Orchid, Cattleya Orchid, Corsage Orchid

Botanical name: Cattleya spp
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Epidendreae
Subtribe: Laeliinae

Cattleya Orchids commonly referred to as Catts or Corsage Orchid are popular easy to grow Indoor Orchids whose large and colorful blooms can last for weeks. The blooms occur in clusters of 2-6 flowers. Flowers have sepals and petals free from each other and the lowermost petal (the lip) is usually a different coloration and shape from the rest of the flower. With good care, they can bloom twice a year. Catts are sympodial orchids which bear a cylindrical rhizome from which the fleshy noodle-like roots grow. The leaves are a vibrant green (light yellow-green) and they grow from the top of a pseudobulb. The stems are tall and smoth, and the leaves are fleshy with a smooth margin. Cattleya is a genus of orchids native to tropics of Costa Rica south to Argentina, where they thrive in warm and misty conditions. The genus is abbreviated C in trade journals. The genus was named in 1824 by John Lindley (an English botanist, gardener and orchidologist) after William Cattley (a British merchant and horticulturalist), who was significantly involved with the trade between Britain and Russia. Most of the Cattleya Orchids available are hybrids. Pink, white, red, purple, blue and yellow flowered varieties are available. Catts are closely related to the genera Brassavola and Laelia with which they have been used extensively in hybridization.

How to Grow Cattleya Orchids (Cattleya spp)

Light

Cattleya Orchids grow best in bright, indirect light for about 10 hours per day. A few feet away from an east- or west-facing window is ideal. Keep them away from direct sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves. Regularly turn the pot to ensure the plant gets adequate light on all sides. A Cattleya Orchid that is receiving the right amount of light has light yellow-green upright leaves. Dark green leaves indicate that the orchid needs more light. Yellow (more yellow than green) leaves means the orchid is receiving too much light. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Water Cattleya Orchids thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering in the cold period. To take the guesswork out of watering Cattleya Orchids, check the roots. Whitish-green and plump roots indicate the orchid is well hydrated. Whitish, thin roots indicate the orchid needs to be watered. Use tepid, chlorine-free water as orchids are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Avoid wetting the foliage as it can lead to fungal diseases. Cattleya Orchids are more tolerant of dry soil conditions due to the presence of pseudobulbs and their thick leaves. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

The best temperatures for Cattleya Orchids are between 10-290C. Warmer days and cooler night temperatures with a difference of 10-150C are ideal. Cool nights are essential to trigger flowering. Ensure there is good air circulation as orchids cannot tolerate hot and stuffy conditions. Protect them from draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Moderate humidity is ideal for Cattleya Orchids. If the air is too dry, set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth. Do not mist the leaves as it can lead to fungal diseases.

Feeding

Feed Cattleya Orchids every 4 weeks during the growing season with a weak solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Do not feed an orchid that is in flower. It is better to err on the side of underfeeding than overfeeding. Overfeeding may result in loss of roots thus death of the orchid. It can also lead to vegetative growth instead of flower production. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Cattleya Orchids bloom best when they are pot-bound. Repot Cattleya Orchids only when growth begins to suffer. When the orchid has outgrown its pot and the new growth reaches out over the edge of the pot or when the soil has broken down completely. Basically repotting Cattleya Orchids every 2-3 years should be adequate. Repot only when new growth begins, shortly after blooming is over. Use a pot with proper drainage holes or slits; the roots need good air circulation. The pot should be only 1 size larger than the previous one. Use loose, free-draining bark soil. When repotting, shake off excess soil and trim off any dried and shrivelled pseudobulbs.

Pruning

Pruning Cattleya Orchids is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife. When flowering is over, cut the flower stalk 1 in. above the 3rd node from the bottom.

How to Propagate Cattleya Orchids (Cattleya spp)

Cattleya Orchids can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season once flowering is over. Gently split the rhizome into sections. Leave at least 3 shoots on each section. Seperate the roots attached to each division from the mother root ball. Remove the old potting soil attached to the roots. Place each section in the center of the pot. Bury the roots in the soil while ensuring that the bottom of the pseudobulb is level with the top of the soil. The best pot should be about 1-2 in. larger than the pseudobulb. Ensure the pot has enough drainage holes and slits to prevent root-rot. Place the set up in a shaded place until they have established their own roots. Water the new Cattleya Orchids lightly to enhance root development. Stake each newly repotted plant.

Common Problems in Growing Cattleya Orchids (Cattleya spp)

  • Brown soft spots on the leaves
  • Brown soft spots on Cattleya Orchid leaves are an indication of a fungal disease; remove the affected leaves immediately to prevent further spread.

  • Brown hard and dry spots on leaves
  • Exposure of Cattleya Orchids to direct sunshine will result in scorch marks which are brown hard and dry spots on the leaves. Move the orchid to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunshine.

  • Mould on leaves
  • This is an indication of Powdery Mildew Disease. Misting the leaves in Cattleya Orchids may lead to mildew growth if the water does not evaporate quickly. Ensure good air circulation and stop misting.

  • Limpy and droopy leaves
  • Limpy and droopy leaves in Cattleya Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Water Cattleya Orchid thoroughly, maintain the soil consistently moist and allow only the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.

  • Dark-green leaves
  • Dark green leaves in Cattleya Orchid indicate that the plant is not getting enough light. Move the orchid to a brighter spot. The leaves of a Cattleya Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light yellow-green.

  • Yellowish leaves
  • Yellowish leaves in Cattleya Orchid indicate that the plant is getting too much light. Move the orchid to a shadier spot. The leaves of a Cattleya Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light green.

  • Leaf tips turn black and die
  • The cause of black leaf tips in Cattleya Orchid is the presence of chemicals like chlorine and flourides in water. Use chlorine-free water only.

  • No blooms
  • Too little light for Cattleya Orchids will result in no blooms. Move the plant to a brighter spot. Overfeeding Cattleya Orchids can result in vegetative growth instead of flowers. Feed the orchid once monthly with a weak solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

Toxicity

Cattleya Orchids (Cattleya spp) are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.

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