Monday, December 27, 2010

Cosy Cattleya

About two months ago I purchased my first orchid, a Cattleya NOID. I'd never worked up the courage to take on an orchid before because of all the horror stories about them being impossible to keep alive. They also tend to be rather pricey which isn't in my current budget. That was until I discovered that they can be half price or even less after they've bloomed. In honour of this discovered I made the spontaneous purchase of a plant I new nothing about (not even the species name).

I've been giving it moderate humidity and about 12 hour of light per day with the top of the plant 30cm (1ft) away from fluorescent tubes. Cattleya like brighter light and this one seems really happy. It's already put out two new leaves and in the picture above you can see the next two already developing.

A few days ago I took a look in between the first two new leaves and noticed what looks like a flower bud! I'm excited that my first orchid is doing so well and already producing a flower. I'm also curious to see what the blooms will look like because the store had a large mix of hybrids.

Does anyone know when to repot Cattleya? It doesn't look ready yet but the plant is growing from the centre of the pot over the side and I just want to provide the best environment possible. What if I stuck some bark with moss underneath it so the epiphytic roots could attach (eventually I'd like it out of the pot)? Also, the leaves are a little dirty from minerals in the tap water. Is this fine or would it be best to wipe them so more light can get to leaves? Thanks in advance!


  1. Congratulation, it really seems to be happy. The reddish coloration on the leaves is usually an indication that the plant is getting a really good amount of light. Based on my own experiences with epiphytic orchids, I would hold off a while on repotting, at least until it is done flowering, but I think wiping the leaves should be fine. The bark idea would probably work in terms of the plant rooting to the bark and/or moss but it might make the plant rangy and harder to manage

  2. There are lots of Orchids that are super easy to grow. Don't let horror stories scare you away. If you are growing them at home try Phalaenopsis (easiest and ridiculously long bloom time) or Paphiopedilum (slipper orchids). Both types do well in bright indirect light and will be OK in the dryer conditions of a house. If you still have access to a greenhouse you can pretty much try anything.

    I haven't grown any in years but I am thinking of picking up a few for my new place.

  3. With Cattleyas what you'll likely see first is a Sheath. Depending on the exact variety and its parents buds may develop at the same time or much much further down the road. Sometimes they will also produce a Sheath but no buds. Point is it may be months before the sheath/buds do anything so no real reason not to repot.

    You can repot a Cattleya when you see new root growth starting. I use bark for most of mine, moss will probably stay far too wet for them, these guys really want to dry between waterings.

  4. @College Gardener, glad to know it looks healthy!

    @Kaveh Maguire, I've heard that the Phalaenopsis aren't too bad but I didn't realize the Paphiopedilum were alright. I love the strange colouration they have. I should grab more.

    @allandrewsplants, months eh? Well at least I know something is coming. I've already seen some new root growth so maybe I'll repot soon so I don't have to worry about it being to wet in the moss.

  5. Yah just make sure it is a Paph and not a Phragmipedium. I think those are a little more difficult. But Phals are the easiest. I had a huge white one that was in bloom about 6 months of the year.

    The best thing about these two genera is that they don't need greenhouse humidity or light levels to bloom.

  6. since it seems to be happily growing, and it's an epiphyte anyway.. i wouldn't bother with repotting too soon. i'd give it some fertilizer, though.. there are special solutions for orchids and epiphytes, they like it.

    the stains on the leaves are just a question of aesthetics.. you can avoid it misting with demineralized or distilled water or catch rainwater outside.

    anyway.. here's a quite usable and comprehensible page about the few orchid species that can be grown at home:

    i'm curious about the flowers, once your C. gives them. i have a Dendrobium i bought on discount (actually, rescued an almost half dead specimen from a supermarket), not knowing what kind of a hybrid it was, and it was totally fun waiting for the buds to develop when it bloomed for the first time.. :)
    good luck.


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