Tropical Flowers

Cattleya Orchids – Origin, Varieties, Symbolism

Many envision a flower from the Cattleya genus when thinking of orchids. Cattleya orchids are known for their showy, fragrant flowers, which come in various shapes, colors, and color combinations. Many of the species have large blooms that span several inches across, while others have smaller but equally lovely blooms. Cattleya orchids typically flower once a year, with the timing varying by species, though some hybrids, particularly those crossed with Laelia orchids, have been bred to bloom more than once.

These orchids are epiphytic, so they grow naturally attached to other plants, like tree branches. Their leaves are usually a dull green color. Pseudobulbs, which store nutrients and water, give rise to plants. Cattleya orchids are generally long-lived and slow-growing plants, maturing in four to seven years. After they’ve finished flowering, the best time to plant these orchids is when new growth appears. In general, seeds can be planted at any time.

The Cattleya orchid is a Brazilian indigenous plant species. The name of this plant is associated with horticulturist William Cattley, who accepted a shipment of this beautiful flower in London in a withering state and nursed it back to health. He popularized the plant even more by cataloging and publishing it in journals.

Cattleya Orchid Care

Cattleya orchids are simple to care for, and even inexperienced gardeners can get them to bloom. They make lovely houseplants, but they can also be left outside all year in tropical climates and during the warmer months in frost-prone areas.

The key to growing them successfully is to provide adequate light, maintain proper temperature and humidity, and water and feed them regularly. If the growing conditions are favorable, orchids rarely suffer from serious pest or disease problems.


For optimal growth, these orchids require bright indirect light. When grown as a houseplant, it prefers an east- or west-facing window with plenty of light. Any harsh midday sun, on the other hand, should be diffused with a sheer curtain. Similarly, orchids prefer morning sunlight but should be protected from the hot afternoon sun. Cattleya orchids that don’t get enough light have darker-than-normal foliage and rarely flower. Occasionally, the foliage of orchids that receive too much light will turn yellowish or even scorched brown or black.


Cattleya orchids will thrive in an orchid-specific commercial growing mix. This typically includes fir or sequoia bark, perlite, horticultural charcoal, coconut husk chips, tree fern fiber, clay pellets, gravel, and other materials. When grown outdoors, cattleya orchids can be slab-mounted, which is a technique that involves manually attaching the orchid to a tree host. Wrap the orchid’s roots in moss; wire the plant on top of an organic shelf (such as driftwood or cork bark); and secure it to a branch, tree trunk, or log.


These orchids require only a little moisture. Water when the growing medium is nearly dry; a weekly watering is usually sufficient. Do not leave the orchids in a consistently wet growing medium, as this can lead to root rot. Water deeply each time so that the water sprays the foliage and runs through the container drainage holes. Many growers prefer to do this by placing the orchid container in a sink. Watering in the mornings allows the foliage to dry in the sunlight. Otherwise, dampness can breed mildew and other diseases.

Temperature and Humidity

Cattleya orchids prefer temperatures ranging from 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Frost and colder temperatures can kill a plant. The orchids can withstand temperatures as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit but require good air circulation and high humidity.

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They generally prefer humidity levels ranging from 40% to 70%. Many orchid growers increase humidity around their plants by placing the container on a tray filled with pebbles and water. In the mornings, the foliage can also be misted. Some growers also keep a humidifier in the same room as the orchid. Furthermore, these orchids thrive in greenhouse environments.


Some orchids have been known to grow and even bloom without fertilizer for years. However, minimal but consistent feeding will give your plant the nutrients it requires to thrive. Many growers recommend using a balanced orchid fertilizer at a quarter strength at each watering once a week. Too much fertilizer can cause the plant to focus on foliage growth and send up flowerless stalks. Excess fertilizer can also harm the roots of the orchid.

Potting and Repotting

Because these plants dislike having their roots disturbed, repot only when necessary. It’s time to repot when the roots have grown over the edge of the pot, and the growing medium has decomposed (causing poor drainage). This happens every two years on average. Select a slightly larger container with good drainage holes.

Then, carefully remove the roots from the old container and shake off any remaining decomposed growing medium. Pack fresh orchid potting mix around the roots of the orchid and place it in the new container at the same depth as it was previously growing.

Cattleya Orchid Varieties

Within the Cattleya genus, there are numerous orchid species and hybrids that differ in appearance and bloom time, including:

  • Cattleya labiata: Also known as the crimson cattleya or ruby-lipped orchid, this medium-sized species produces large, showy blooms in pink, lilac, or white.
  • Cattleya iricolor is known for its fragrant flowers in pale yellow or creamy white with long, narrow petals.
  • Cattleya mossiae: This orchid is known as the Easter orchid because it blooms around Easter.
  • Cattleya percivaliana is known as the Christmas orchid because it blooms in the fall and winter, often in a pale lavender color.
  • Cattleya schroederae: Another species with the common name Easter orchid due to its spring blooms; its showy flowers can grow up to 9 inches across.

Cattleya Orchid Characteristics

While the pseudobulb of the Cattleya orchid is maturing, it is cultured in bright light. Their light requirements can make them successful bloom in a home only if they provide supplemental lighting or summers spent outside. Cattleya culture refers to a group of related genera that share the same basic culture requirements and are frequently crossed with Cattleya to produce delightful hybrids. Potinara, Laelia, and Brassavola are among the related genera.

Cattleya is a sympodial orchid, which means that pseudobulbs grow along a central horizontal rhizome. Every year, a Cattleya orchid will produce one or more new pseudobulbs from which the season’s bloom will emerge. Cattleya will not bloom on old pseudobulbs, but they will strengthen the plant. In the seasonal bloom cycle of a Cattleya, we look for the emergence and growth of new pseudobulbs, the appearance of bloom sheaths from the top of the pseudobulb, and the appearance of blooms from the sheath.

Cattleyas frequently bloom for Mother’s Day in the spring, but many also bloom in the fall. We begin to look for the bloom sheath that emerges from where the leaf meets the top of the pseudobulb as the pseudobulbs on our Cattleya mature. As the bloom develops, the sheath will cover it. The bloom spikes eventually push their way through the covering sheath and develop into flowers. Sometimes, a sheath may form without buds, or the buds may appear much later. The developing buds can usually be seen or felt through the sheath.

Cattleya Orchid Colors and Shapes

Cattleya is a unique houseplant with a pseudobulb and only a few thick leaves. Cattleyas come in large and small floral varieties; the small-flowered species has more flowers per stem than the large-flowered species. The flowers are usually ten to twenty centimeters in diameter and come in various colors ranging from white to yellow, orange, green, pink, purple, and fabulous pastels. Cattleya is known as the “Queen of the Orchids” because some varieties are fragrant.


Cattleya is a tropical orchid native to South and Central America. It’s an epiphyte, which means it lives on trees and bark without consuming its nutrients. Because ecological competition is fierce in the jungle, Cattleya frequently chooses height and establishes itself high up in trees. Cattleya has the most varied appearance of any orchid. All Cattleyas have relatively hard leaves. This indicates that they get a lot of light or sun in their natural environment and thus require it indoors.

The Meaning And Symbolism Of Cattleya Flowers

Cattleyas were named in 1817 after English horticulturist William Cattley. Cattley was the first person in England to cultivate these exotic plants.

Because orchids were so rare and exotic, the Victorians held them in high regard. Cattleyas are native to Central and South America, so horticulturists had to travel long distances to bring them to England. As a result, orchids came to represent luxury and rare beauty. Cattleya orchids are found in over 50 different species. Cattleya flowers do not have any specific symbolic meaning, but orchids have long been associated with fertility and virility.

The word orchid is derived from the Greek word “orchis,” which means testicles. Men in Greek mythology ate orchid bulbs to ensure they were blessed with a son. A woman who ate the bulb was blessed with a daughter.

The earliest orchid writings date back to 700 BC in Chinese and Japanese literature. Orchids are a symbol of wealth and nobility in Japan. Their history in Japan is intertwined with the Samurai culture. Courageous warriors would travel long distances to return these enthralling flowers to the royal court.

Orchids have great cultural significance in China because of Confucius, the Chinese philosopher. Many of his poems and literary works were inspired by them. Orchids represented integrity to Confucius.

Orchids are still widely used as a gift in China today. Orchids represent success in China, and giving someone one is thought to bring them good fortune.


Cattleyas flowers are Colombia’s national flower, representing resilience and endurance. Cattleyas are also the birth orchid for October, meaning grace.

Cattleyas do not have much cultural significance or symbolism, but orchids do. Different colored orchids are given as gifts to express a specific emotion. As a result, giving someone a red, pink, white, orange, yellow, or purple Cattleya has different connotations.


Is Cattleya the queen of orchids?

Cattleyas, also known as the “Queen of Orchids” or the prom orchid, are probably what most people envision when they think of orchids. Some species are quite large, bloom several inches across, and are showy and fragrant, with a spectacular range of colors and shapes.

What does the Cattleya orchid symbolize in Colombia?

This orchid exemplifies the beauty of Colombian flora. Six orchid species, scientifically known as Cattleya trianae, are officially recognized as part of the Colombian republic.

What does a Cattleya flower smell like?

Cattleyas have fragrances that can either revive or swoon you; they have complex fragrances (many layers) that range from citrus to beautiful floral. Oncidiums have enticing fragrances ranging from chocolate and vanilla to tropical punch.