How to Grow Cattleya - Planting & Caring

By Sharon & Team   /   Orchid Category   /   2023

Cattleya, also known as the corsage orchid, is a genus of 42 species of orchids from Costa Rica to tropical South America. Cattleya is a widely grown genus, and many hybrids have been produced. They are widely known for their large, showy flowers, and were used extensively in corsage making before the advent of the modern wrist corsage. The flowers of some species can reach up to 15 cm (6 in) across. The genus was named by John Lindley in 1824 after Sir William Cattley, who was the first to successfully cultivate and bloom a plant in the genus.

How to Grow Cattleya - Planting & Caring

Growing Easiness

Is it easy to grow Cattleya plant? Sometimes, it is quite difficult to make a cattleya plant flower. Some skills are required to make this happen, though it is ultimately rewarding when you see the beautiful blooms.

Plant Size

How big can it be? The pseudobulbs can be 20 centimeters or more, and the leaves can be up to 30 centimeters long.

Growth Rate

How fast is the growth? Although cattleya orchids are not the easiest to grow, their beauty makes them well worth the effort. They are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants, often trees, in the wild. In the home, they can be grown in pots with a well-drained potting mix. They like bright light, but not direct sun. Cattleya orchids bloom in the spring, and the flowers can last for several weeks.

Cattleya Basic Knowledge

Plant Form Orchid
Family Orchidaceae
Origin South and Central America

Lifespan, Perennial or Annuals

How long is the lifespan? The cattleya orchid is a long-lived plant. When grown in the right conditions, it can bloom for many years. The plant has a short bloom period, but the blooms are large and showy. The plant does best in bright light and needs a well-drained potting mix.

Ideal Temperature

What is the ideal temperature? Although cattleya normally tolerates heat, it would be best if the temperature does not exceed 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant may suffer from overheating if it is in direct sunlight, so it is necessary to ensure proper air circulation. The best way to do this is to keep the plant on a balcony or in front of an open window during the summer, but drafts should be avoided. Also, the humidity level should be increased during hot periods. This can be done by using humidifiers or by placing the plant in a pan with wet gravel (with the bottom of the pot in the saucer). In addition, more frequent watering will be required if the plant is kept in a hot environment.


What about the humidity? The cattleya orchid plant prefers a humidity level of 40 to 50%. If the humidity level is too low, the plant will suffer and if the humidity level is too high, the plant will become susceptible to fungal infections.

Light Requirement

What amount of light this plant needed? Sometimes, in order to encourage flowering, growers will increase the amount of light their Cattleya orchids receive. However, it's important not to overdo it, as too much light can actually damage the plant. The best way to provide the appropriate amount of light is to grow your Cattleya under the dappled shade of a tree, or to provide a few hours of morning sun and then filter or shade the plant during the afternoon. When grown indoors, a Cattleya should be placed near a bright window where it will receive indirect sunlight. If the leaves of your plant are pale or yellowish in color, it is receiving too much light. Conversely, if the leaves are dark green, it is not receiving enough light.

Soil Composition

What is good soil for Cattleya? Because Cattleya is an epiphytic or lithophytic plant, it is best to use a very loose substrate of bark pieces with the addition of sphagnum and foam. This will allow the plant to have good drainage while still being able to hold some moisture.

Watering Time

How much I must water Cattleya? Unless you have a very humid environment, you will need to water your cattleya orchid frequently. Watering once a week should be sufficient, but be sure to check the potting mix frequently and water when it becomes dry. The best method of watering is the immersion method, when the pot is placed in a bowl with water. You can also periodically shower under running water. But this should not be done during the formation of buds.

Fertilizing and Nutritient

About fertilizer. Sometimes, the cattleya orchid does not bloom because it is not getting the right amount of fertilizer. The plant should be fertilized only during its growth period, using fertilizers with a high content of nitrogen. Then, a top dressing with a higher amount of phosphorus and potassium can be applied. However, during the plant's rest period and during flowering, no fertilizing should be used. With top dressing, you should be careful, as an excess can lead to the death of the roots and the entire plant. Also, an excess of fertilizers can lead to an increase in the vegetative mass and the absence of flowering.


How to reproduce Cattleya? The process of Cattleya plant reproduction begins with the multiplication of the plant by pseudobulb separation. This process is followed by the repotting of the plant in order to provide it with a new potting mix. After the plant has been repotted, it is then necessary to water it well and to fertilize it. Finally, the plant is ready to be transplanted into its new location.


Why Cattleya won't bloom? known that it is very difficult to make this plant bloom. All the rules of care must be followed very carefully, the most important of which is to provide a period of rest, bright light during the growth period, the correct light substrate, temperature drop. An adult plant with at least four mature pseudobulbs, as well as living roots, is necessary for blooming. It is also important to know that different varieties and hybrids have different times of rest periods, which depend not on the season, but on the time of flowering. Those orchids that bloom in winter or spring are at rest from autumn to mid-winter. Those that blossom in autumn – early in winter, pass a period of rest immediately after flowering: from the end of winter to spring. During this period the flower should be kept in cool conditions, in a bright place, but not in a bright sun. Watered rarely, do not use top dressing, do not spray (it is better to put the pot in wet claydite). Flowers are unusually beautiful, have a variety of colors, except blue, have a pleasant aroma. When the bud develops, a cover first appears, which protects the bud from the external environment. However, the appearance of the cover is not yet a guarantee that the plant will blossom. With the slightest disturbance of care, the bud can blacken, and the plant will again start to grow. Cover and buds can not be sprayed during the formation. If new growths appear at the moment of ripening, some orchids recommend breaking them out. To prolong flowering, the plant after blossoming buds is best removed from the too bright sun.

Caring The Cattleya

How to care the plant? While most orchids are epiphytes, which means they grow in trees, Cattleya is actually a terrestrial orchid. These beautiful plants are found in the wild in the humid jungles of Central and South America, where they grow in the rich, decaying leaves of the forest floor. In their natural habitat, Cattleya orchids actually grow in full sun, which is something to keep in mind when you are growing them at home. If you live in an area with very hot summers, you will need to provide some shading for your Cattleya orchid.

Pests & Challenges

What is the challenge when caring Cattleya plant? Unless , of course, to consider the fact that it is unpretentious, and it is resistant to various pests. If you put it in too much light, on the leaves may appear burns in the form of dry brown spots. But if the leaves turn red, it is not a burn and is quite harmless. In the event of high humidity, the plant may be subject to fungal diseases.

Toxic & Poisonous Type

Are Cattleya poisonous? So, if you have pets or small children, you'll want to keep this plant out of reach. The Cattleya orchid is not poisonous to humans, but can be harmful to animals if ingested. All parts of the plant contain toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even death in severe cases.