A large-sized, evergreen, epiphytic orchid with long, upright, club-shaped stems (pseudobulbs) growing from a short creeping rhizome. Each mature stem carries single, apical leaf up to 30cm long and 6cm wide. The leaves are mid or dark-green, oblong, firm and leathery. Flowering stems emerge from the young mature growth in winter and early spring. The buds are enfolded in protecting, thin, pale green sheaths. Large fragrant flowers are carried on terminal flowering stems up to 30cm long. The colour of this species is highly variable from pure white, pale pink, pale lilac to dark magenta flowers with a darker lip and yellow centre. Each flower measures up to 20cm across. It is historically the most awarded species, as well as the national flower of Colombia.
Ultimate height0.1–0.5 metres
Time to ultimate height5–10 years
Ultimate spread0.1–0.5 metres
MoistureWell–drained, Moist but well–drained
Colour & scent
|Pink Yellow White Purple
|Pink Yellow White Purple
- Full sun
- Partial shade
East–facing or South–facing or West–facing
ExposureExposed or Sheltered
- Native to the UK
- Clump forming
A genus of tropical orchids native to South and Central America. Thick fleshy roots of these epiphytic plants grow from thick rhizome. Cylindrical, swollen stems called pseudobulbs serve as storage of water and nutrients. Large, long-lasting flowers are held at the top of newly formed, mature pseudobulbs. Genus Cattleya is often cross bred with other similar genera, and can be traced in parentage of numerous, inter-generic, orchid hybrids
- Name status
- Plant range
How to grow
Grow in an open, coarse bark-based orchid mix with addition of perlite and coconut chips. Provide bright light conditions, but shade from hot, direct mid-day sun. Ideal temperatures are 15°C minimum in winter and up to maximum of 28°C during summer. Water and feed plants regularly during the growing season. Ensure that all water drains away, preventing the plant sitting in water. Provide enough humidity by regular misting. Reduce watering and feeding in winter months and keep in a bright, sunny position. As with many orchids, they grow best when well-established and slightly pot-bound. Re-potting should be only done if the plant overgrows its container or before the potting mix starts to deteriorate - approximately once in 2-3 years. The plant should only be re-potted when the new growth appears in spring. See also indoor orchid cultivation
Mature plants may be divided when the plant overgrows its container. Each division should have at least 3 older growths with a sufficient amount of stored energy and water, to support new growth and reduce stress after repotting.
Suggested planting locations and garden types
- Conservatory and greenhouse
No pruning required.
Generally disease-free. Poor air movement may cause bacterial or fungal rots. Good hygiene practice and sterilising cutting tools prevent the spread of virus diseases.
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