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Everything about Cattleya Orchids

Cattleya orchid

Common Name: orchid, corsage orchid, Queen of the Orchids

Latin Name: Cattleya

Family: Orchidaceae

Plant Time: Spring to fall

Mature Size: 0.25–2 ft. tall and wide

Sun Preference: Partial sun

Soil Preference: Soilless media, well-drained, acidic

Bloom Time: Spring, Fall

Flower Color: Orange, Purple, White, Yellow

Native Area: Central America, South America

Toxicity: Non-toxic to pets or humans

Growth Rate: -

Wildlife Value: -

Table of Contents

Cattleya Orchid, also known as the “Queen of Orchids,” is a genus of tropical orchids with over 50 species and numerous hybrids. This beautiful plant is native to Central and South America and is popular among orchid enthusiasts for its vibrant and showy blooms.

They produce large, fragrant flowers in various colors, including pink, purple, white, and red. They are commonly grown indoors but can also thrive in outdoor settings such as greenhouses and shade houses. They require specialized care (unlike the dolphin plants), but they can be rewarding plants for those willing to take the time to provide for their unique needs.

Common orchid varieties:

  • Phalaenopsis
  • Oncidium
  • Dendrobium
  • Vanda
  • Cymbidium


Cattleya orchids are not difficult to care for but they require special care. If these are met, even beginners can succeed in getting them to flower. They make lovely houseplants, but they can also live outside year-round in tropical climates and during the warmer months in areas that experience frost.

The key to growing them successfully is providing the right amount of light, maintaining the proper temperature and humidity, and watering and feeding adequately.

  • Soil: Cattleya orchids thrive in commercial growing mix specifically designed for orchids, including fir or sequoia bark, perlite, charcoal, coconut husk chips, clay pellets, and gravel.
  • Water: These plants need moderate moisture and should be watered once a week when the growing medium is slightly dry. Do not overwater as it can cause root rot. Just water deeply and let the water drain out of the container.
  • Light: Cattleya orchids require bright indirect light, preferably an east or west-facing window that receives a lot of it. Also, you should protect them from harsh midday or strong afternoon sunlight, as too much light can cause yellowing or scorching of their foliage.
  • Temperature: Theys prefer temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night.


Cattleya orchids can be propagated by division. Remove the plant from its container, and gently tease apart the root into smaller sections. Each section should have at least three to four healthy pseudobulbs and a few roots. Pot the new divisions in the fresh orchid growing mix and give the same care as to mature plants. It’s important to keep the newly divided plants in a warm, humid environment and to avoid overwatering them until they are established.


Pruning Cattleya orchids can lead to an abundance of blossoms, resulting in a breathtaking display. To stimulate flower production, follow these four essential steps:

  1. Identify the rhizome, the thick horizontal structure in the pot, and locate the active eyes on the pseudobulbs. These swollen parts indicate where new pseudobulbs will grow.
  2. Take great care not to break off the tender active eyes, as they will give rise to new pseudobulbs. Begin with the newest pseudobulb and move backward, noting which eyes have grown and which haven’t.
  3. Cut the rhizome halfway through, severing its connection to restrict nutrient and water access. Sterilize your equipment and use a sealing agent like cinnamon to prevent the entry of microorganisms.
  4. Thoroughly seal the cuts with a fungicide or bactericide spray to safeguard against harmful microbes.

By implementing these steps, your Cattleya orchid will develop new pseudobulbs and, eventually, flower spikes that bloom simultaneously. Remember to time your pruning consistently and ensure your orchid receives adequate light, water, and fertilizer for optimal health.

Common Pests

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you care for a Cattleya orchid?

To care for a Cattleya orchid, provide bright indirect light, water when the growing medium is dry, and maintain moderate humidity levels. Additionally, maintain temperatures between 70-85°F during the day and 55-60°F at night, and fertilize regularly with a balanced orchid fertilizer.

How long do cattleya orchids live?

With proper care (nutrients, water, enough light, and humidity), Cattleya orchids can live for decades. They take about 5-7 years to mature fully.

How many times a year do cattleyas bloom?

With proper care, Cattleyas bloom once or maybe twice a year (in the Spring and in Fall).

Are Cattleya Orchids toxic?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Cattleya orchids are not toxic to cats, dogs, or horses. They are also considered safe for humans.

How often do you water a Cattleya?

The frequency of watering for Cattleya orchids varies based on their size, with larger ones requiring watering every 7-10 days and smaller ones every 5-7 days, and should be done in a sink using tepid water.