Cattleya orchids

The origin, the curious casual discovery and the main characteristics.

The Cattleya orchid owes its name to William Cattleya, a wealthy English grower and collector. In fact, it seems that he, among some ferns he had sent from the East, found some strange plants with fleshy leaves, which had been used as packaging material. He then tried to grow some and managed to make them bloom, realizing that he was dealing with a new genus of orchids. In his honor in 1824 the botanist John Lindley, to whom he gave it to study, classified the genus with the name Cattleya. Coming from the tropical areas of Central and South America, in particular Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil, in nature there are about 60 species with a variable height from 30 to 50 cm. They are divided into two groups based on the number of leaves: monofoliate and bifoliate. The monofoliate, the best known, they are characterized by large flowers, showy and with an intense perfume. The flowers of the bifoliate instead are smaller, but with more refined shapes and colors. Photo

How to choose the most suitable environment for its development.

Cattleya are plants that can be grown indoors without much difficulty, so much so that they are often recommended for beginners. They are almost all epiphytes, meaning that they do not live in the ground but on other plants that they simply use as support. They are sympodial orchids, or horizontally growing, that is, they have a steadily growing stem from which one or more erect stems, called pseudobulbs, sprout, from which one or two fleshy leaves arise. The pseudobulbs have the important function of storing nutrients to provide energy to the plant in case of need. Like all epiphytic plants, it is grown in a bark-based compound that allows good aeration of the root system. For adult plants the pots should be around 20cm in diameter. Cattleya need a warm-humid environment with temperatures between a minimum of about 13.5 ° C and a maximum of around 28 ° C. They dislike drafts, which can cause damage. Instead, they love light very much, direct sunlight is fine, but only for a few hours a day. Photo

Cultivation techniques: watering and rest period.

The Cattleya orchid should be watered regularly, generally once a week, even if in winter, when it is cold and the light is poor, it would be advisable to water it even less, wetting it only when the growing substrate is completely dry. In fact, in the period that goes approximately from October to April, with shorter intervals for some species, the Cattleya would need a rest period in which to slow down the growth. So, little water but lots of light and lots of air. However, it is always better to give less water than too much, one of the most frequent causes of death is in fact excessive watering that literally drowns them. If you use a saucer, make sure that the plant is not in direct contact with water, perhaps by filling it with pebbles or expanded clay. It would be advisable to fertilize once a week in the months preceding flowering. Photo

Cattleya Orchids: How to Help the Cattleya Orchid Bloom and Stay Healthy.

One of the problems that haunt amateur growers is having plants that are thriving but don’t bloom. It is almost always a problem of excessive duration of exposure to light. Therefore, the exposure time should be reduced starting from the month of September, perhaps by covering the plant in the evening if the room is illuminated. It does not require special pruning, it will be sufficient to remove the dry or damaged parts. Cattleya naturally suffers from all the diseases characteristic of orchids, but in particular it suffers attacks from cochineals and aphids. The former sucks the sap and can be counteracted by careful cleaning with cotton soaked in alcohol, the latter cause deformation of leaves and pseudobulbs and fight with specific aficides. In general, non-parasitic diseases and feared fungal infections are favored by errors in cultivation, in particular by excess humidity, so to keep the orchid healthy it would be sufficient to guarantee the right environmental conditions, paying particular attention to stagnation of d ‘ water.

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