Cattleyas are native to Central and South America from Mexico to Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina and concentrated in the Andean regions of northern and western South America and the Brazilian forest. Some 60 species grow in the wild in a range of habitats from the steamy Amazon jungle to the peaks in the Andes mountain range whet the night temperatures drop to freezing. Therefore, Cattlelyas are amongst the most adaptable of orchid family.
Cattleyas should be grown with as much light as possible but not so much that the leaves become yellow and burnt. during Summer 50% shade should be sufficient. They are grown in plastic pots and they grow well a hanging from shade houses where they receive ample light. Cook, Terry. “Growing Orchids in Australia” Golden Press, Silverwater, NSW, 1989.
The following paragraph is an excerpt from: Cattleya Culture in Melbourne by Barbara Walker, an OSCOV judge and former proprietor of a commercial nursery, Arbor Orchids. She writes:
“Cattleyas grow in nature as epiphytes, often clinging to tree branches where they get an abundance of air movement to dry their roots quickly after rainfall. Their roots are enclosed in a cover of velamen that acts like blotting paper, absorbing both liquid water and moisture from the atmosphere and transferring it to the roots. The velamen of healthy roots is white when dry but changes to green when it is wet. Cattleyas love to have their roots unconfined and the healthiest roots are generally to be found on plants that have outgrown their pots so that they hang over the rim. If you grow your cattleyas in a glasshouse or other enclosed area where the humidity can be closely controlled, you may prefer to mount your cattleyas on cork or bark slabs, rather than growing them in pots. I have found that mounted cattleyas will grow equally well either hung vertically or horizontally and, as all the roots are exposed to the air, there is no fear of them rotting”. For full article read: Cattleya Culture in Melbourne.
According to Denis Oliver, “Cattleyas often have an untidy growth habit. They sometimes tend to grow sideways, which makes for a scruffy plant and poor flower presentation. In this case give the new canes guidance and support using stakes and ties. Take care not to snap off the new growths, which may be quite brittle. Also support the inflorescences when they emerge from the sheath to ensure the flowers are displayed to their best advantage. Cattleya buds sometimes abort and rot while inside the sheath, either due to a setback caused by a sudden fall in temperature or perhaps by excessive humidity in the sheath. There may be some benefit in peeling back the sheath if you suspect the occurrence of rot”. Oliver also covers common pests and diseases and how to treat them. Here is his full article: The Cattleya Alliance by Denis Oliver
Ross Pascoe is from the northern Victorian town of Kerang and has written an article about Cattleya tolerance to cold and frost winter temperatures and names and recommends the best varieties for such climates. This listing should be used as a guide to other growers whose orchid houses are also prone to occasional severe frosts. Cold Tolerant Orchids of the Cattleya Alliance by Ross Pascoe
There is also another interesting article relating to this topic by Richard Salvado. Cool Growing Mini Cattleyas by Richard Salvado
Further articles on on specific Cattleyas have been written by Brian Milligan. He is an OSCOV judge, member of the North East Melbourne Orchid Society (NEMOS), and editor of the Journal of the Orchid Species Society of Victoria.
- The Classic Cattleyas
- The Lost Cattleya
- Cattleya intermedia
- Cattleya loddigesii and the Loddiges Family
- Please note: There has been a large revision of the genus Laeliinae and many orchids have changed names.
- For further information about orchid care at Southern Suburbs Orchid Society (SSOS) or membership inquiries, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.
- See also our Cattleya and Laelia photo gallery.