I went to Caribbean market this morning. The weather today is sunny and pleasantly warm 24 – 27 deg. C. It is school holiday and also many people are still having their end of year holiday, so the market was very crowded when I got there.
Like usual I straight away went to the stall where orchids were sold. I could not believed that I saw a Cattleya orchid with one big mauve colour bloom. The only one there and the rests were Phalaenopsis. The price was much cheaper than those in the shop, so I bought it.
Wow…. my very first Cattleya orchid. It seems that growing Cattleya is easier than Phalaenopsis and here in Melbourne it can be kept outside under the shade. Looking at the plant, it seems like it is quite mature as it has many aerial roots hanging down on one side of the pot.
Growing requirements for Cattleya orchid around Melbourne area:
- Temperate to Tropical climates: 9 deg. C in winter and up to 35 deg C in summer.
- Mature plants can be kept outside all year around with around 70 % sunlight (30% shade), never under direct sunlight. During very hot weather around summer time, keep it under 50 % shade. Young plants are better to keep indoor during very cold winter months.
- If the leaves are too green, it means that the plant needs more sunlight. If the leaves are kind of yellow it means too much sunlight. The good leaves are supposed to be thick and stiff (not floppy).
- Watering is done when the medium has started to feel dry (by poking a finger under the surface of the potting medium).
- Half strength liquid fertilizer weekly or every watering time during hot weather.
- Mist the area if humidity less than 50 %.
- Planting medium consists of large bark chips, pieces of charcoals, a bit of perlite.
- Repot when plant has become overcrowded.
Note about Cattleya Orchids:
There are basically two different types of Cattleyas:
- Unifoliate, Labiata group/Cat. labiata – there is only a single leaf grows on each bulb. The flowers can grow one to five on each stem and are usually big and ruffled. Repotting can be done in spring when the plant has started to get too large for the pot.
- Bifoliate – mostly two leaves (can be more) on each bulb. It can have ten or more flowers on each spike and usually thicker, smaller and last longer compared to unifoliate ones. To repot bifoliate Cattleyas, has to wait until new bulb/leaf has started to grow roots and make sure not to break the new roots during re-potting process.