How care for cattleya orchids – watering, fertilizing, reblooming, repotting

Hi, guys! Welcome back! In today’s video we are going to talk about
cattleya orchids, and you are going to learn everything you need to know to succesfully
grow them, from watering and fertilizing, to tips to rebloom them! Cattleyas are among the most popular orchids,
and they are my favourite genus of orchids. I did’t encounter in any other genus such
a wade rage of colors, with such amazing fragrances, some in the day time, some in the night time. Cattleya culture is often used as the basis
for comparison with other types of orchids. Cattleyas and their related hybrids come in
many colors, shapes, forms and sizes. Culture varies only slightly among most of
these. This care tutorial will be a general guide
for basic cattleya culture. Similar to most of orchids, cattleyas are
epiphytes. They have developed water-storage organs,
called pseudobulbs, and have thick, fleshy roots covered with a spongy, water-retentive
velamen. They like their roots to dry between waterings,
and therefore should be potted in freedraining media. But I will talk about potting a bit later
in this video. One of the most often question that I get
is ‘’why my cattleya won’t rebloom?’’. Light is the most important factor in growing
and flowering cattleyas succesfully, whether is in a greenhouse, in the home, or outdoors
in the hot season and in the home in the cold season, like I prefer to do. Bright light to some shaded sun should be
given to the plants, with no direct sun between 12 o’clock and 4 o’clock, pretty much
the same hours you should avoid when you are going to the beach. This means an east, shaded south (as with
a sheer curtain) or west window in the home, and 50 to 70 percent full sun in a greenhouse
or outdoors (3,000 to 5,000 foot-candles). Leaves should be a medium green color, pseudobulbs
erect and requiring no staking. I had recived many times orchids from some
nurserys that were way to flexible and didn’t have the strenght to stay erect, being a good
sign of too little sunlight. A mature pseudobulb that has been well fed
and had recived proper sunlight should be strong and very plump. Temperatures should be around 12 to 16 C at
night (or 55 to 60 F) and 20 – 30 C during the day (or 70 to 85 F). Seedlings should have night temperatures 5
to 6 C higher at the night. A 5 to 10 C degree differential between day
and night is recommended, especially for mature plants. Higher day temperatures can be tolerated (up
to 35 C or 95 F), if the plants are well watered, and humidity, air circulation and shading
are increased. Water should be provided in two ways: in the
pot by watering and in the air as humidity. Watering in the container is dictated by many
criteria: size and type of the pot, temperature, light, the size of the plant’s root system
etc. Mature cattleyas need to dry out thoroughly
before being watered again. Seedlings need more constant moisture. Compare the weight of a dry pot of the same
size and type of mix; it can indicate if a plant needs water by the relative weight – light
means dry, heavy means wet. If in doubt, it’s best to wait a day or two
until watering. Plants in active growth need more water than
plants that are resting. Water below 10 C or 50 F may injure plants,
as will water softened by the addition of salts. As you all know I like to use inorganic medium
for my orchids, and for cattleya I usually use leca beads in the size 4 to 8 mm, sometimes
mixed with seramis if the size of the pot is under 10 cm, or if I have a cattleya seedling. If you use clay pots, you can observe the
color changing of the clay pot while is drying, and you can also fell it moist or dry to the
touch. If you use plastic pots, I recommend you use
clear plastic pots so you can observe the roots as a sign of water requirement or not. When a cattleya needs water the roots should
be white, while when it’s still wet the roots are green or yellow in color. Orchids need to be fertilized on a regular
schedule. In inorganic medium I like to use a 14-7-8-2
(N-P-K-Mg). (please be careful not to have any urea in
the nitrogen formula). It has proved to be enough to my orchids,
even for my vanda orchids. When in active growth, plants need fertilizer
at least every two weeks, and when not actively growing, once a month. Fertilizer can also be applied with every
watering at one-quarter the recommended dilution. Thorough flushing with clear water every month
is recommended to prevent the buildup of fertilizer salts. I recommend you buy a TDS meter to test your
water for the level of salts, you can buy it from ebay for 3 euros. I have discovered that my tap water is not
good for orchids, having too much salts, and if I add any fertilizer I would burn the roots. Therefore, I use distiled water, rain water,
or clean water from my reverse osmosys system. It is a small investment for the well being
of my orchids. I had discovered that cattleya orchids can’t
be bothered about humidity, so I think if you stay in the 20-40 % range all should be
fine. I have naturally a humidity pretty high, about
60-75 %, so I’ve learned the hard way that air should always be moving around the plants
to prevent fungal or bacterial disease, especially if high humidity or cool temperatures exist. Repotting is necessary when the rhizome of
the plants outgrows over the edge of the pot or the potting medium starts to break down
and drain poorly (usually after two to years) if you use organic medium, or if the pot is
not enough anymore to sustain the rootsystem of the orchid, like my cattleya iwanagara
apple blossom that has just filled every empthy space in between the pebbles and after it
blooms I’ll need a bigger pot for her. It is best to repot just when you see new
roots sprouting from the new growth. This moment can be different from orchid to
orchid. Some start new roots when the new growth is
only a few cm in height, while some wait for the new growth to mature and sometimes even
to bloom. I like to use for my cattleya orchids clay
pots with a mixture of leca beads and sometimes I add seramis on the top of the pot. It is best to use inorganic medium as it won’t
break down, and you will be able to repot the orchid less frequent, thing that we all
want. Until a plant has at least six mature pseudobulbs,
it generally should be put into a larger pot and not divided. If dividing a plant, three to five pseudobulbs
per division are required. Select a pot that will allow for approximately
two years of growth before crowding the pot. When repotting cattleya usually kill the roots
from the oldest pseudobulbs and may keep only the ones from the 2 newest pseudobulbs, so
we want to achieve a less frequent repotting, thing that is helped a lot by using inorganic
medium. Reblooming cattleyas has proved to be tricky
for some of you, but if you provide adequate care and enough sulnight, you shouldn’t
have any issues with that. Some hybrids may bloom several times a year,
while others only once and usually in the same season each year. Most of cattleyas bloom in late autumn, winter
or early spring. This type of orchids usually produce a sheath
from which the spike emerge. Some cattleyas produce the spike when the
sheath is still green, while some like to wait untill the sheath is dry, like cattleya
mosiae. The best thing is to wait for the orchid to
decide what it wants to do. Don’t cut the sheath trying to see if there
is any spike, because the sheath is designed to protect it, and it happened to me that
while I’ve cut the sheath when the spike was just starting to form, the plant didn’t
like it and it decided to abort the spike. So just don’t touch it. If you want to check it for buds, use a flashlight,
that will help. By any means don’t squeeze the sheath trying
to fell the buds, you will ruin them. The orchid can take a few good months to a
year to produce a spike from the sheath. From the moment the spike emerged, it can
take about 1 month and a half to two months to be in full bloom. I recomment you don’t move the orchid when
it’s forming the buds from one place to another, as the conditions can be slightly
different and this can cause bud blast. You must also be carreful in the winter time
when you open the window to allow fresh air in, because the fresh cold air can also cause
bud blast. It happened recently to me and that was pretty
sad. Some other cattleyas like to produce the buds
without a sheath, directly from the new growth, so as the leaf unfolds, you will see tiny
buds pocking out trough the leaf. I like more this cattleyas, cuz at least you
know if you are going to have buds or not. I have a few cattleyas that do this: hawaiian
splash lea , blossom bounty, Jungle eyes, but I guess there are much more on the market. Many Cattleyas are very fragrant, as they
have been crossed with Brassavolas. Strong light will enhance the fragrance. The best fragrances out of all orchids I had
encountered in this genus, which makes it my favourite. The total blooming time for this orchid is
short, extending from 2 to 4 weeks, rarely up to 6 weeks, but the total apereance and
fragrance make worth growing them. I personally enjoy a lot seing specimen size
cattleyas in bloom! I hope you have enjoyed this video! Thank you for watching!

8 thoughts on “How care for cattleya orchids – watering, fertilizing, reblooming, repotting

  1. Excellent advice regarding not to cut or aqueeze sheaths; especially if maintained out doors… and, though I have cut some sheaths through the years, I've only done so when the sheath tissue was overly thick where the spike started to be hung up inside and started to twist and bend as buds were rubbing on the sheath's inner wall… and in most cases the buds were freed and opened without any problems.

    Nice video.

  2. Very informative video, thanks for doing that. Can you do a repoting for cattleya when ever you do your next one! Thanks very much for sharing.Also can you do a video onb your reverse osmosis system. I tried to buy one from ebay but there are so many of them and i don't know which one to get. They all expensive at least more than £100.

  3. A very good video. I share with you my love for cattleyas and being pretty new with orchids (1 year), I have been able to successfully re-bloom 2 catts oit of 4, thanks to the information received from both you and Rachael. I grow my cattleyas in clay pots hanging above my clothes dryer in an eastern, full tropical sun exposure (Caracas, Venezuela), my sliding windows are 1.5 meter tall, and are kept open day and night which allow lots of tropical breezes.

  4. What is the name of the orchid in the back on the left. I have one that looks very much the same. It's getting ready to bloom and I haven't a clue as to what it is. Thank you

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