Cattleya Alliance Species and Hybrids

Plant Sizes

Cattleyas are usually referred to according to their plant sizes. These are the categories and criteria that are used :
Micro-Mini : under 4 inches in height
Mini : 4 inches to 8 inches in height
Compact : 8 inches to 12 inches in height
Standard : over 12 up to 24 inches in height


Cattleya plants need a good amount of light to grow and flower well. A good guide to whether or not a plant is getting the proper light is the colour of the leaves. They should be a medium green, rather than a dark lush green. The pseudobulbs should be straight and upright, without needing support. Micro-mini and Mini types typically require less light, and can be grown very well under fluorescent lights, an average east or west window or filtered south window. Compact and standard catts may require more light to bloom, especially if they are unifoliate. Unifoliate means that they never have more than one large leaf at the top of the pseudobulbs. Bifoliates (2 or more leaves at the top) have a lower light requirement. If you find that your larger cattleyas aren't blooming, then try a brighter east or west window, or less filtered south window. You might also verify that your fertilizer does not contain too much nitrogen, which could suppress blooming.


The best temperature range for growth and flowering is 27 ° C during the day, and 16 ° C at night. However, these plants are very resilient and can tolerate a wider range of temperatures if the humidity and watering are adjusted. A good rule of thumb is to increase humidity and watering at higher temperatures, and reduce both of them at lower temperatures. Lower temperatures will give brighter and more uniform coloration of the orange and red mini-catts, because of the Sophronitis in their backgrounds. At higher temperatures, especially night temperatures, your red cattleya could produce blooms that are more orange in coloration.

Watering and Humidity

Cattleya plants have evolved water storage organs to withstand periodic drying in their native habitats. For this reason, it is recommended that plants in cultivation be allowed to go nearly dry between waterings. Mature plants generally need to be watered about once per week, smaller plants perhaps every 4-5 days during most of the year. At cooler times of the year, plants may be left a little longer between waterings. When in doubt, wait a day to water. Always water thoroughly, allowing water to drain well through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

Our Plants

The seedlings that we sell in 2.5 inch pots are usually potted in sphagnum moss, which accelerates their growth at this size. Watering once per week is usually adequate, ensuring that the moss feels somewhat dry before applying water. Leave them in this mix for about a year. The plant will likely be to the edge of the pot, or slightly over the edge by this point. Then graduate the pot size up to a 3 inch pot and small bark mix. Either pre-wet the bark, or drench thoroughly after repotting. For pot sizes 4 inches and larger we usually use coarser bark mix for the bottom half of the pot and top it off with smaller bark mix to increase moisture retention and humidity for the root mass.

IMPORTANT : There are certain Cattleya-type plants that are very slow to produce new roots, and often will produce only 1 or 2 roots per bulb. Most notably B. digbyana, C. dowiana, C. aurea and C. violacea are notorious for this issue. Be VERY careful when repotting these species, or direct hybrids of them. Make certain you have drenched the pot several hours before repotting to minimize damage to the roots, and to ensure that you are not mistakenly trimming off live roots. NEVER rip off roots, as this will leave an open sore, and cause the plant to rot. Always use a sharp, sterilized tool (knife/scissors/shears/etc.) to do any trimming.

[ Back to main page ] | [ Back to Culture page ]
[ Use the "Back Button" on your browser to return to the page you came from ]