When people think of orchids, nine times out of ten, they are thinking of cattleyas. Over sixty species of Cattleya and their thousands of hybrids were named in honor of William Cattley, an early 19th century orchid collector. Cattleyas are found in the American tropics from Mexico to Brazil.
These epiphytic orchids are roughly divided into two groups: the labiate, one-leaved with one to three large flowers; and the bifoliate, two-leaved with large numbers of small, narrow, brightly colored flowers. Both groups have narrow pseudobulbs and leathery leaves.
Many beautiful hybrids have been produced from Cattleya species and from crosses with other closely related genera such as Brassavola, Epidendrum, Laelia, etc. There are also multi-generic hybrids where the hybridizers attempt to take the best features of each genus and combine them all into one perfect flower. The flowers usually grow from the top of the pseudobulb.
Blooming time depends on the species or hybrid. Cattleyas that will flower can be obtained at any time of the year. The cut flowers last one to two weeks. Give cattleyas intermediate to warm temperatures, bright but not burning light, good air circulation, high humidity, and excellent drainage. Drench and let dry. Give them less water when they are not actively growing.
If the pseudobulbs start to shrivel, unpot. If the roots are brown, the plant was given too much water. If the roots are white, the plant was not given enough water. Repot and revise watering. It is best to repot at the beginning of the growing cycle, when the new leads are about an inch long.
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