Cattleya

Cattleya trianae

Cattleya trianae

Cattleya labiata

Cattleya labiata

Pronunciation: CAT-lee-ah

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Orchidaceae
  • Subfamily: Epidendroideae
  • Tribe: Epidendreae
  • Subtribe: Laeliinae
  • Alliance: Cattleya
  • Genus: Cattleya, Lindley 1821

General Characteristics

  • cylindrical pseudobulbs
  • apical thick leaves
  • sheathed racemose inflorescence
  • large showy flowers

Cattleya is a genus of 42 species of orchids from Costa Rica to tropical South America. The genus was named in 1824 by John Lindley after Sir William Cattley, who received and successfully cultivated specimens of Cattleya labiata that were used as packing material in a shipment of other orchids. The genus is abbreviated C in trade journals.

They are widely known for their large, showy flowers, and were used extensively in hybridization for the cut-flower trade. The flowers of the hybrids can vary in size from 5 cm to 15 cm or more. They occur in all colors except true blue and black. The typical flower has three rather narrow petals: two are fringed, and the third is the conspicuous lip with a fringed margin and various markings and specks. At the base, the fringed margins are folded into a tube. Each flower stalk originates from a pseudobulb. The number of flowers varies; it can be just one or two, or sometimes up to ten.

They are by and large intermediate growers and are best raised in pot culture although by no means mandatory, as in a hot environment they can be mounted on driftwood. They are recognized by their cylindrical pseudobulbs, apical thick leaves and a sheathed racemose inflorescence, giving rise to majestic large showy flowers. They are found at the top of the tallest trees in old wet forests at lower elevations. As such they require ample air circulation.

Hybrids

More hybrids have been registered for this genus than for any other orchid group. The hybrids are created by combining Cattleya species with other closely related genera. The following list indicates some of these complex hybrids.

  • Cattleya x Brassavola = Brassocattleya (Bc.)
  • Cattleya x Brassavola x Laelia = Brassolaeliacattleya (Blc.)
  • Cattleya x Brassavola x Laelia x Sophronites = Potinara (Pot.)
  • Cattleya x Broughtonia = Cattleytonia (Ctna.)
  • Cattleya x Broughtonia x Laelia x Sophronites = Hawkinsara (Hksna.)
  • Cattleya x Epidendrum = Epicattleya (Epc.)
  • Cattleya x Laelia = Laeliocattleya (Lc.)
  • Cattleya x Laelia x Sophronites = Sophrolaeliocattleya (slc.)
  • Cattleya x Sophronites = Sophrocattleya (Sc.)

Culture

  • Temperature: The vast majority of species thrive in Intermediate conditions, however, the Amazonian species should be grown under warm conditions.
  • Light: Intermediate to bright, very good air movement.
  • Water & Humidity: Seasonal, high during growth season and low during rest period (usually fall-winter). Species from the Amazon (above) prefer a more uniform watering schedule throughout the year. Cattleyas like to dry out between waterings, and it helps to grow them on the dry side during Fall and Winter. These were the plants in mind when the rule ”when in doubt, do not water” was created.
  • Fertilizer: Balanced fertilizer during growth season, weekly. Half to a quarter concentration during rest period.
  • Potting: Most people grow cattleyas in pots, and this is usually the ideal situation as the plans can grow large. For the small to medium-sized species, baskets and bark/cork slabs can be used, depending on particular species water needs. As for potting medium, well-drained mixes of treefern/bark with or without charcoal are preferred, ratios and grade depending on particular watering schedules and pot/plant sizes. Under heavy watering schedules, more drainage is necessary as the plants’ roots don’t like to stay soggy.

Species – Sensus MM

  • Cattleya bicolorBi-colored Cattleya {SE. Brazil}
    • Cattleya bicolor subsp. bicolor {Brazil}
    • Cattleya bicolor subsp. canastrensis {Brazil}
    • Cattleya bicolor subsp. minasgeraiensis {Brazil}
  • Cattleya bowringianaBowring’s Cattleya {Mexico to Honduras}
  • Cattleya elongataCattleya with the Elongated Stalk {Brazil}
  • Cattleya jenmaniiJenman’s Cattleya {Venezuela to Guyana}
  • Cattleya maximaChristmas Flower {Venezuela to Peru}
  • Cattleya mendelii {NE. Colombia}
  • Cattleya mooreana {Peru}
  • Cattleya mossiaeEaster Orchid {N. Venezuela}
  • Cattleya patinii {Costa Rica to Venezuela & Trinidad}
  • Cattleya percivalianaChristmas Orchid, named for Percival {Colombia to W. Venezuela}
  • Cattleya porphyroglossaPurple-lipped Cattleya {Brazil}
  • Cattleya rexKing of the Cattleyas {Colombia to N. Peru}
  • Cattleya velutinaVelvety Cattleya {Brazil}
  • Cattleya violaceaSuperba of the Orinoco, Violet Cattleya (S. Tropical America}

About

Welcome to Jardim Therapy my blog about orchids and Brazil. Here you will find a few useful references, and some tip & tricks, along with posting of my own personal experience. I absolutely love orchids, and I want to help everyone interested in learning about these unique plants.

As guests of Jardim Therapy you are welcome to browse the home page, post comments, and access the archives. You can also send me a message if you have any questions.

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