You may find that your particular orchid has not read this culture sheet and will want to
march to the beat of a different drummer. If you have questions about your specific plant,
feel free to ask us. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Cattleya orchids (Catts)are considered high light orchids, requiring bright indirect light or
even some direct sunlight in the mornings or evenings. Feel the leaves of your plants
when they are in direct sunlight and make sure they are not overheating. They should be
cool to the touch. If your mature plant is not blooming, try increasing the light levels or
length of time it receives light. Try supplementing light with grow lights, Florescent lights
or even High Intensity Discharge lights (H.I.D.) Moving your plants outdoors when night
temperatures are above 60F can also help. Acclimate your plants to the increased light
slowly so you don't burn them. Older, un-bloomed growths may still bloom if given the
Catts like to dry out a bit between watering. How often you water is dependent on how
quickly the potting mix dries out. Clay pots will dry out much faster than plastic or glazed
ceramic pots. When you water, completely drench the roots and allow the pot to drain.
NEVER LET YOUR PLANT SIT IN WATER!!! Letting the plant set in water will rot the
roots. Bi-foliate plants (those with two leaves per pseudobulb) like to dry out completely
between watering and enjoy even brighter light than the Uni-foliate (single leaf ) plants.
Clay pots help stabilize top-heavy plants but are harder to release from their pots for
Fertilizers and Supplements:
Water with clear water first then water with a "well balanced", "all-purpose" fertilizer at 1/2
strength once a month. A fertilizer is considered "All-Purpose" or "Well Balanced" when
the three major components: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium are close to being
equal. The three letters and numbers on the container of fertilizer indicate this. For
example: N-P-K / 20-20-20. Or 5-7-6 etc. We have found no difference from one fertilizer
to the next. We use fish emulsion, Protect, CalMag etc. just to make ourselves feel good
about our orchids. We're not sure it does anything for the plants, but we have customers
that swear by these products.
We use a medium size mix which may include hard wood chips, coconut husk chips,
sponge rock, charcoal, etc. As your plant increases in size, so will the pot and so should
the size of your potting mix. Use a mix that allows for ample air movement around the roots.
Most novice growers (and many experienced growers) hate to repot while their orchid is
growing well, for fear of losing the plant. This is the first and biggest mistake you can
make. You must repot your orchid BEFORE the potting mix begins to break down. When
the potting mix rots, so do your orchid roots. You will not know this until it's too late.
Therefore we recommend you repot your Catt every 12-24 months. NEVER OVERPOT.
Use a pot that will allow only 1 or 2 years new growth. We repot ours with only 1 years
growth allowance so when the new leads grows over the edge of the pot, we know it's time
to repot. Repot your newly purchased orchids after they have bloomed. This assures the
plant is in a fresh mix that you are familiar with. Most plants come to market just before
they need repotting. Many vendors "pot up" these over-grown plant's by placing them in
larger pots with the old mix still around the roots. This stabilizes the plants without
disturbing the roots and causing the flowers/buds to drop.
Most Catts grow best with temperatures that you are most comfortable in. Therefore they
make excellent houseplants. Most will do well between 60F and 80F but will tolerate
temperatures as low as 50F and as high as 100F for short periods of time.
A few words of wisdom:
1) Information provided here is a generalization and not specific to any species or hybrid.
2) Conditions suited to one orchid may not be the best for another even though they are in
the same family.
3) What works for one person may not work for another, so try different ideas.
4) All orchids benefit from good air movement.
5) If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
6) You're not a real orchid grower unless you've killed your fair share of orchids.