How to Grow and Care for a Cattleya Orchid Plant

I got a beautiful Cattleya orchid plant for my birthday. Now that the flowers have died should I throw the plant out or will it bloom again?

 

 

Hi Marissa,

Please do NOT get rid of your Cattleya Orchid plant now that it has finished flowering. This orchid is easy to care for and will live and bloom for many years if you just do a few simple things.

Yellow and red Cattleya Orchid

A Cattleya orchid plants starts to flower when it is about 4-5 years old and often flowers twice a year after that.

Water: Water well when the plant is producing new leaves. Drain any excess water and never allow the orchid plant to sit in water. Once the buds appear, reduce the amount of water you give the plant allowing the soil to dry out a bit, and never get the flower buds wet. Water early in the day so the soil is not too wet when the temperature drops at night. Use tepid water.

Light Cattleyas Orchids grow better and produce more flowers in bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light.. The main reason Cattleya Orchids do not bloom is that they are not getting enough light. Leaf color  an orchid gets. The leaves will be a medium apple green when the light is perfect. Too much light causes the leaves to yellow, too little and the leaves are a dark green. You may have to move your orchid plant to different locations as the seasons change.

fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.: A good rule to remember about feeding orchid plants is to feed weekly, weakly. When the plant is actively growing, use a balanced plant food (10/10/10 diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength or plant food made specifically for orchids diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. When the plant is resting and not producing new leaves, fertilize every other week with the fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small. diluted  to 1/4- 1/2 the recommended strength. Do not feed a Cattleya Orchid at all when it is in bloom.

Humidity: 40% – 60%- humidity helps orchid plants grow better indoors

RePotting: Repot to the next size container in the spring when the pseudobulbs have little space to reproduce.