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How to grow cattleya orchids


July 27, 2022


Searles Gardening Team

Orchids are among the most beautiful and unusual flowers in the world. They have been used for religious ceremonies and decorative purposes for hundreds of years. The climate around Brisbane and the coasts are ideal for growing orchids.

The Cattleya Orchid was named in 1824 as a tribute to William Cattley of England. The plant originates from Central and South America. Long before the Europeans came to the area, the local people knew and used them in various ways for ceremonies and for decoration.

The right growing conditions will help the plant to grow well and flower regularly year after year. The ideal condition will be achieved in a normal growing house that has 50% shade cloth on the top, east and northern sides, with more solid wind protection on the south and west sides, for example, a paling fence or some fibreglass sheeting. The floor should be gravel or a similar substance that will create a moist atmosphere. The plants should be on benches or preferably hanging, to help control snail damage. Alternatives to a shade house would be a patio or balcony with 50% shade, or a sunroom with the plant sitting above a tray of water to give a moist atmosphere would be suitable also. Orchids do not like direct sunlight as it burns the foliage. All orchids must be protected from winds.

Cattleyas like to be watered well, and then allowed to dry out before the next watering. So water every second day with increased watering in Summer and less in Winter. Water misting under benches is favourable.

When the flower sheath swells and the buds emerge, bring the plant in out of the weather and keep the flowers dry to prevent bruising.

When the plant grows over the side of the pot, remove the plant and if necessary divide it. Always have three bulbs - the lead bulb and two bulbs behind it in a clump. If this is not possible, do not divide the plant, just repot it as is into a larger container. Use a commercial mixture, such as Searles Orchid Mix for Cattleyas and put charcoal, polystyrene or bark into the bottom of the pot to assist with drainage. Place the plant into the container with the oldest bulbs at the edge of the pot and the new growth in the middle. The plant should be at the top of the mixture, not buried in it. Place a stake into the pot and tie the plant loosely to it for support. The best time to repot is in Spring or after flowering.

To promote healthy growth of your cattleyas, feed with Searles Flourish Orchid Booster and SeaMax Organic Fertiliser Liquid regularly. To boost flowering supplement feeding with Searles Liquid Potash prior to flower bud development.

To control mealybugs and scale use Searles Pest Gun. Use pellets to control slugs and snails. Fungicide all orchids every 4-6 weeks with Searles Mancozeb. Also be aware of attack from thrips or red spider.

For brilliant results with your Cattleyas:

  • Repot with Searles Orchid Mix for Cattleyas.
  • Feed with Searles Flourish Orchid Booster and SeaMax Organic Fertiliser Liquid.
  • Use Searles Pest Gun to control mealybugs and scale and check fungus with Searles Mancozeb.