Cattleya belongs to the Orchidaceae family. Homeland – tropical America.
Cattleya is an evergreen herbaceous flowering plant that is often called the “queen of orchids.” Cattleya is a typical epiphyte that grows on trees in the homeland. It differs in elongated pseudobulbs, which can carry 1-3 leathery, dark green leaves. The flowers are large, of different colors – from white to bright red. They are collected in a brush, sometimes consisting of seven flowers.
The root system of the Cattleya orchid is perfectly adapted to the natural way of life: they live on the trunks and thick branches of trees. At the same time, epiphytes do not parasitize on trees, but only use them as a support to get to the sunlight. Numerous creeping roots can be either airy or deeply recessed into the ground, in addition, they perform not only the function of plant nutrition but also serve to be attached to the support, since a long climbing shaft cannot support itself. The flower calmly settles along the cracks of the rocks, in places where other plants do not take root.
Due to the special root structure, an orchid can extract moisture not only from the soil but also from the air (fog, dew). In addition, the plant can easily tolerate drought. With a lack of moisture, orchids can take off foliage to reduce water consumption and evaporation.
Fancy flower shapes and a variety of colors of orchids are a vital necessity for this plant, which requires pollination to reproduce. To attract insects and birds, orchid flowers mimic the shape of nectariferous flowers and even female insects.
The middle pedal is transformed into a lip, that is, takes the form of a tube or funnel of a more saturated shade. In the wild, the lip serves as a perch for insects and small birds pollinating a plant. There are species of Cattleya with fragrant flowers that attract insects precisely because of the smell.
It blooms depending on the species in summer, late autumn and spring. Flowers hold on peduncles for a long time. The stems of these plants are strongly thickened pseudobulbs that carry from above one to three grayish-green leathery leaves.
Due to the fact that the tissues of leaves and stems are thickened, they serve as original reservoirs for the accumulation of moisture and nutrients.
Popular Types and Varieties of Cattleya Orchids: Description of a Flower
The genus Cattleya includes more than 180 species, as well as interspecific hybrids, both of natural origin and bred by breeders. It is simply impossible to describe and list all the names.
The homeland of most of the listed species of Cattleya orchids is Brazil, and they need moderate conditions to grow.
The Cattleya bicolor is quite large, and in natural conditions, its bulbs can reach 1 meter. The flowers reach a diameter of 10 cm, have a pleasant aroma, bloom for a long time. Coloring is an incredible mixture of brown-green petals and a lilac lip.
Cattleya Forbes has a low two-leaf bulb with narrow leaves reaching 15 cm in length. In inflorescence, from one to six flowers can be bloomed, painted in different shades of green. The lip is white, more often with a pink tint.
Cattleya Dawn has the following description: the bulb is slightly flattened, fusiform, reaches a height of 25 cm, carries one narrow leathery sheet of the same length. In inflorescence, from two to six large flowers of soft yellow color with a raspberry lip can bloom.
It can be noted that Cattleya is the most spectacular representative of the orchid family. They owe their name to the British grower W. Cutlery.
Microclimate for Growing Cattleya
In order to ensure regular flowering of Cattleya orchids at home, it is necessary to create a certain microclimate, which implies:
- Good light.
- Comfortable temperature.
- Air humidity.
Of course, each plant variety is individual and has certain requirements, but there are a number of general rules that apply to all varieties of the flower.
Cattleya is the most light-loving orchid, but it should be protected from direct sunlight. You should choose to place the east or southwest window sills. If the window is oriented to the south, then it is necessary to provide slight shading so that the leaves are not exposed to the negative influence of the bright midday sun. The duration of daylight hours is an important factor in the flowering of Cattleya orchids, growing at home, and should be at least 8-10 hours. When natural light is not enough, then pseudobulbs will not develop and the orchid will not bloom. Therefore, it is advisable to organize additional lighting using photo lamps or fluorescent lamps.
During the growth period, the temperature should be within 20 ° С, at night – 2 ° С lower, at rest – 12 ° С. A rise in temperature above 30 ° C in summer is not advisable. Cattleya blooming requires a pronounced difference between day and night temperatures, which should be at least 5 ° C. To ensure this temperature in the summer, it is better to bring the flower to the balcony, and in the fall it is achieved naturally.
How to Care for Cattleya: Simple Rules
To care for Cattleya orchid at home, high humidity and a constant influx of fresh air are required. The plant does not tolerate stuffiness, but it is quite sensitive to drafts. In winter, fairly low humidity is required, in summer high. The optimal indicators for this parameter are 50-60%, so the flower develops better.
To increase humidity when growing Cattleya orchids, you can use:
- Warm shower.
- Placing a flowerpot in a pan with water.
However, it should be ensured that there is no accumulation of moisture at the growth point, as this is fraught with the decay of the plant.
Cattleya is considered rather capricious orchids. And in order to achieve flowering Cattleya at home, it is necessary to comply with all the requirements for caring for them. Watering and topdressing are the most important conditions necessary for the life of the plant.
In summer, abundant watering is needed, since during this period the orchid forms a strong bush (however, the plant is sensitive to waterlogging of the substrate). If the flower is placed on the sunny side, the soil will dry out faster. The best watering for Cattleya is to immerse the flowerpot in warm water. No more than once a month you can spill the substrate under running water: this measure is effective for removing dead roots, stratification of clods of soil, eliminating debris. It is necessary to ensure that water does not fall on the leaves, especially on young shoots and at the point of growth. If moisture does get in, you need to thoroughly blot it with a dry sponge.
On cool days and during the rest period, watering is reduced, preventing pseudobulbs from drying out and wrinkling. During this period, it is better not to pour water on the substrate, but to moisten it with a spray bottle.
Topdressing is an important step in plant care. However, it’s important to know a few simple rules on how to care for a fastidious Cattleya:
- Never fertilize a freshly planted plant.
- From May to October, feed plants with fertilizers for orchids.
- Dissolve the fertilizer in water for irrigation.
- Do not feed on the beginning of flowering until the buds wither.
- The content of phosphorus and potassium should be minimal.
To apply fertilizer, you need to water the plant well, and then soak the flower in water with dissolved fertilizer for 15-20 minutes. It is advisable to alternate conventional root dressing with foliar when bulbs and aerial roots are processed with fertilizer.