These orchids have pseudobulbs from which leaves originate and, based on the number of leaves they generate, we can speak of monofoliata or bifoliata cattleya orchid.
The monofoliated plants have a single leaf and much larger flowers although in lower numbers than the bifolates which, however, possess at least two leaves instead. Pseudobulbs are born from a stem that grows horizontally.
The flowering that develops at the apex of the stem is usually composed of about ten flowers. These possess petals and sepals of the same color but the labellum, on the other hand, has jagged outlines and is stained with different colors compared to those of the whole flower.
The flower stem is produced once every year, therefore, once the flowers appear to have faded, it can be cut with gardening shears
Cattleya is a plant that is cultivated quite easily and needs a vegetative rest that usually goes from October to April. In this period the plant still needs to be exposed to sunlight, but watering must be suspended.
Its roots are very particular because they need airiness, therefore it is advisable to keep it in pots with many holes, so that there is the possibility of a good passage of air but also good drainage.
A really significant feature of this orchid is that the plant generations can be clearly seen on the stem. Going backwards horizontally you will notice a pseudobulb with a flowering stem and before it a stem without flowers as it is older and therefore already faded.
Cattleya orchids origin
The cattleya genus was discovered in 1924 when a rich Englishman who cultivated exotic plants, Mr. William Cattley of Barnet, one day found among the plants that had been sent, particular leaves that had been used as packaging. William, intrigued, planted them and as soon as a seedling bloomed, not knowing what it was, he had it studied by the botanist Jhon Lindley who classified it as a new and unseen genus, baptizing it Cattleya from the name of the discoverer.
Ideal environment and temperatures for its prosperity
The temperate climate is ideal for this plant; more precisely during the winter it needs minimum temperatures that are around 13-15 degrees and maximums around 22-23 degrees. During the summer at most it can tolerate 30-32 degrees. It is essential that it does not undergo an excessive temperature change between day and night
Cattleya loves to stay in the air but does not tolerate exaggerated ventilation, also particularly loves light, precisely because it originates from tropical areas. Morning sun exposure is advisable and the central hours of the day should be avoided.
Soil and watering
Being an epiphytic plant, it needs a particular soil for its perfect and luxuriant growth. The substrate must be draining, soft, must have the ability to retain moisture and must allow the roots to be ventilated, therefore, it must be added to the soil of cork or polystyrene, and a mix created by sphagnum and bark. Watering must be regular, so as soon as the substratum seems dry it will have to be watered again. Or another technique could be to soak the jar in warm water and wait for the time when the substrate has absorbed enough water. Watering is really important to offer the plant the right amount of nutrients it needs. For this reason it is essential to keep the environment in which the cattleya must live humid and to obtain this result easily, it is possible to place the plant on a saucer filled with gravel or expanded clay kept constantly wet. The evaporating water will keep the environment moist and the roots will not be in direct contact with water. Or you can also spray the leaves with water once a day. It is necessary, therefore, to be very careful that the air is never too dry and that the soil does not dry too much as it would cause a concentration of nutrients in the substrate that would seriously damage the plant itself.
FERTILIZATION AND DISEASES
Cattleya orchids must be constantly fertilized about every 20 days by varying the intake of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen based on the degree of plant development.
Usually if we want a vegetative restart of the plant, the fertilizer must have a greater quantity of nitrogen. In the flowering period, however, the nitrogen must be decreased but potassium increased. During all other periods the three elements must be present in the fertilizer in equal quantities. These fertilizers must be diluted in the water with which we irrigate the plant and the substrate must be previously soaked so that no concentrations of mineral salts are created which would damage the roots. Cyclically, every four fertilizations, it would be advisable to suspend the fertilization and to water the cattleya only with water without fertilizer, to rinse the substrate decreasing the salt concentration. It is also important to remember that if the plant is watered excessively, the roots could deteriorate. Also periodically check the plant so that it is not heavily attacked by aphids that would create yellow spots on the leaves. However for this type of damage a scrupulous insecticide is necessary.