Location and Light
In the home, a bright east, south or west window is recommended. Place your plant about 12 to 18 inches back from the windowpane. Give your plants all the sunlight that they will take without burning the leaves. Protection is needed only from the direct burning, midday summer sun. In the greenhouse, light should range between 2,000 and 3,000 foot candle power.
To provide extra humidity in the home, place your orchid plant on a saucer or tray filled with pebbles or crushed rock. Never allow the pot to sit in water. A relative humidity of 30% to 40% during the day should be maintained in the greenhouse. An automatic humidifying system is recommended, or gravel or crushed rock on the ground, dampened down, can be substituted.
In the home or greenhouse, the same temperature at which you are comfortable is ideal for Cattleyas. The ideal is 60 degrees at night, with day temperatures in the high 70's or Iow 80's. Occasional deviations either way will not harm the plants.
Cattleyas and their allied genera are epiphytes and can stand long drying periods. They like a drying out between watering. A thorough watering about once a week is usually sufficient for five, six and seven inch pots. Smaller pots will require water about twice a week. If you are in doubt about watering, skip a watering Over-watering will cause the roots to rot and kill the plant. Never use artificially softened water on your orchid plants.
We use and recommend a good (20-20-20) fertilizer which contains iron chelates and other trace elements. However, most of the water-soluble commercial orchid feeds on the market are satisfactory. Cattleyas should be fed every two weeks during the growing season, March to October, and once a month from November to February.
Fir bark is the most commonly used potting media for Cattleyas. We use 100% Douglas Fir bark exclusively for our Cattleyas. We use fine grade 1/2"- 1/4" on all plants up to 3" pot size, and on all others we use the medium grade 1/4"- 5/8".
Repotting and Dividing
Cattleyas are repotted approximately every two years. They should be repotted if the lead growth is going over the edge of the pot, or the plant is not doing well and the mix is brokendown. The best time for repotting is during the summer or just as the new growth is starting to make new roots. When dividing mature plants, allow three to five bulbs to a division. Avoid potting into too large a pot. The back of the plant should be placed against the pot with the lead growth near the center of the pot. Pour the fir bark in the pot and pack firmly about the roots. The surface of the bark should be about one inch below the top of the pot and not covering the rhizome. After potting, keep your plants well shaded and humid, and on the dry side until new root action starts. Resume your normal watering schedule at this time.
The most common pests found on Cattleyas are scale and mealy bug. These can be controlled by Malathion, Safer-Soap, or Diazinon. Slugs and snails can be controlled with products which contain Metaldehyde. We recommend that you follow all of the instructions and take all necessary precautions.