Common Name: Corsage Orchid
Scientific Name: Cattleya (KAT-lee-uh)

Native to Costa Rica and much of South America, this flamboyant, many colored orchid was extremely popular in flower arrangements (especially for corsages, as its name implies) in the 1950s. It typically has large, fragrant flowers which last for a shorter period of time than other orchids. Cattleyas are epiphytes (tree-growing) orchids that grow high up in jungle canopies. These orchids like well-drained roots, and a lot of light.

Where should I put my orchid?
Light is one of the most important things for a Cattleya to thrive. A Cattleya with dark green leaves will not bloom, but one with light green leaves is getting enough sun to bloom well. Cattleyas, however, should not get direct mid-day sun or they will sunburn. Red-tinged leaves are a sign of too much sun. Indoors, the best place for a Cattleya is near an east facing window, or by a south or west facing window with a sheer curtain to diffuse the light. Cattleyas like night temperatures of 60-64° F, and day temperatures of 70-80° F.

What about humidity?
Cattleyas like a moderate to high amount of humidity; anywhere from 50-80%. This can be accomplished by putting a saucer or tray of pebbles filled with water under the plant’s pot, or using a humidifier.

How much water should I give it?
Never use ice when watering any type of orchid! An orchid should be watered by letting room-temperature to lukewarm water soak the roots and run through the pot. Make sure the orchid does not sit in standing water. Do not use softened water, as the salts found in it will harm the plant. Cattleyas prefer to dry out between waterings, and should not be watered more than once a week. If the orchid’s potting medium still seems damp, wait another day. Water more regularly when the orchid flowers or is about to flower. A clay pot will help pull water away from the roots and prevent fungus.

My orchid has finished blooming – now what?
Once your Cattleya finishes flowering, leave the old stems untrimmed. Faded flowers can be cut off.