The Cattleya is an excellent
plant for the beginner. These plants can withstand many of the initial
mistakes made by the novice grower and the flowers are a delight, lasting
from 2 to 3 weeks.
Cattleyas can withstand hot weather if adequate ventilation and humidity
are provided. They do best when the temperature is
between 65°F and 75°F in the day and between 58°F. to 62°F. at night.
The temperature differential is especially important.
Humidity and Ventilation
- A minimum humidity of 50% is generally considered a necessity. However
it does not need to be constant, in the home, morning mistings and or
humidity trays (Remember not to sit the pot directly on the gravel) are
usually enough. Air movement is essential at all times, but especially
critical when the humidity is very high. In the home, natural air movement
is usually enough, but in enclosures and greenhouses, fans are
Light - They
need an abundance of light, but not direct sun. A lightly shaded South
window is best. East or West facing windows are satisfactory if bright
(avoid direct sun except at the beginning or end of the day)
Watering and Feeding
- Always water orchids in the morning so that the leaves are dry before
night. How often to water depends on the potting media used, the type of
pot (plastic or clay), and the size of the pot. Large Cattleyas in bark
need watering about once a week, a rule of thumb to use on individual pots
is to feel the pot, if it is light—water. They like to be watered well,
drained well and like to be almost dry before being watered again. Feed
plants potted in bark with Peters 30-10-10 twice a month in the
growing season, about once a month in late Fall through early Spring,
alternating with at least two good waterings to leach salts.
Pests - Slugs
and snails can be controlled with products containing Metaldehyde such
as Deadline. Diatomaceous Earth is also quite effective against
slugs and Beer in a shallow bowl is a good trap for them. For mealy
bugs, scales and other pests use insecticides like Malathion or
X-clude. Remember that these products are intended
to kill and should be used in the open air outside your home. A light
horticultural oil, like Year Round, (not a dormant oil) which smothers bugs and their eggs is
very effective against most pests and fairly safe. Insecticidal Soap is also
effective against these insects and reasonably safe, but it has less residual action.
Use any of these products with caution and in
accordance with the manufacturers label.
With any of these types of products some insects, and especially their eggs, will
survive to breed again. One dose of even a systemic insecticide will not
wipe out a large population of insects totally and completely. In the
home, vigilance is often the best defense against pests. If you get them
early, before they start laying eggs, they can be eliminated relatively