Cattleya Orchid: Introduction, Features, Leaves, Roots, Pseudobulbs, Flower, General Care, and Maintenance, Commercial Use, and, Care after Flowering

Cattleya Orchid: Introduction, Features, Leaves, Roots, Pseudobulbs, Flower, General Care, and Maintenance, Commercial Use, and, Care after Flowering


Orchids are a special class of plants with a vast range of flower sizes, shapes, and colours. They are renowned for their resilient and entrancingly lovely flowers, which command very high prices on the global market and account for about 8% of the world’s floricultural trade. Cattleya is one of these crucial orchid species for commerce. Large, showy, vibrantly coloured, occasionally fragrant flowers belonging to the Cattleya genus are well-known for finding a great market as cut flowers and potted plants. They are frequently called the “Queen of Flowers.”

Cattleya Flowers

The genus Cattleyas is a member of the subfamily epidendroideae, subtribe laeliinae, and family orchidaceae. William Cattley, a renowned gardener, inspired the name “Cattleyawa.” The 45 different species of orchid were then used to designate the group. Although they can be found all over the world, Cattleya orchids are primarily found in Mexico and Central America. They grow along a rhizome, which eventually becomes a stem with roots, leaves, and flowers. They are sympodial and epiphytic. The maturation period for Cattleyas plants grown from seeds ranges from 4 to 7 years. When compared to other orchids, cattleyas are much more tolerant. They are quite strong and can tolerate temperature changes, humidity, and even conditions that resemble drought to a good extent. The ideal temperature range for Cattleyas is between 55°F and 60°F (12.8°C and 15.6°C) at night and between 70°F and 80°F (21.1°C and 26.6°C) during the day. The cattleya grows best.

when the change in temperature between day and night is between 15°F and 20°F (8.3°C and 11.1°C).

Characteristic Features

The following are the key characteristics

(i) Leaves: Dorsiventral leaves, The elongated cells that make up the palisade parenchyma have numerous chloroplasts and big vacuoles. Large-sized vacuoles allow the cells to cover the most area possible in the leaves, distributing the chloroplasts for the best light absorption. The vacuoles are also used by the orchid throughout various growth periods as sizable nutrition reserves. In the leaves of Cattleya, there are no aerenchyma cells. The upper and bottom epidermis of leaves has a cuticle that is noticeably thicker than the rest of the epidermis. The stomata are tetracytic, having two guard cells and four auxiliary cells surrounding them.

(ii) Roots: Cattleyas have thick, white or silvery roots. Due to the abundance of chlorenchyma layers, Cattleya’s cortex is wider. The velamen cells and exodermal tissues of the roots are extremely powerful. The roots’ silverish colour is explained by the presence of velamen. The sclerenchyma tissue contains the vascular tissues of the root.

(iii) Pseudobulbs: The epidermal surface of the pseudobulbs in Cattleya has extensive deposits of lignin. Large vascular bundles, mucilage idioblasts, and chlorenchyma without intercellular air gaps are scattered within the cell.

(iv) Flower: Flowers on cattleyas are huge and colourful. Typically, flowers have fleshy petals and sepals and measure 8 to 13 cm in diameter. There are three sets of sepals and petals. Pollinators are helped by the labellum (or lip), which is formed by one of the petals. At the lip-base, a cavity that forms approximately 3-6 cm cuninculus and resembling a nectar cavity can be seen (although nectar production has not been reported). Reduced in number, the filaments, anthers, style, and stigma are typically merged to create a column. A grove appears on the column’s ventral surface, signalling the commencement of another, and stigma develops at the base of the column. Ovules are positioned along the ovary’s ridges and the ovary is inferior.

(v) Seed: The numerous, extremely tiny seeds are carried inside the seed pod. Both the seeds and the embryos are devoid of endosperm. For seeds to survive after they are released from the pod, a suitable germination-friendly substrate must be present.

General Care and Maintenance

Cattleya orchids require different growing materials than other orchids because they are epiphytic. For air to reach the Cattleya epiphytic roots, the growing substrate must be porous. Growers frequently utilize potting mixtures that contain different ratios and combinations of porous materials like bark, pebbles, perlite, etc. Sphagnum moss use for Cattleya propagation in pots has also been investigated. It has also been claimed that charcoal pieces perform better than other growing media for Cattleya. In addition, hardwood bark medium has been recommended as a substitute for Cattleya growth. For Cattleya growth, a combination of pine bark, clay pellets, perlite, and charcoal (horticulture charcoal) has been employed with excellent plant propagation outcomes. Therefore, the final potting mix selection depends on the specific species, environmental factors, and user preferences. Only during the growing season should Cattleya orchids be watered periodically. It is important to prevent overwetting the soil, which can cause root rot and severe infestation. Cattleya pots must be completely dried after each watering. Hardy orchids called cotelyas can endure a wide variety of temperature changes. This might be inferred from the fact that several researchers have reported variable ideal temperature settings for Cattleya growth. In a greenhouse, Cattleyas have thrived at temperatures between 20°C and 24°C (day/night), although another study found that the ideal growth temperature is between 32°C and 29°C (day and night). Occasionally, a temperature of about 38°C (in partial shade) or -1°C (without frost on the leaves) is also bearable.

Diffused light is preferred by Cattleyas, and the optimum time to use it is in the morning. Since direct sunlight damages chlorophyll, it must never be used. The yellowing or browning of foliage indicates insufficient levels of light, whereas overexposure to sunlight results in dark green leaves. The optimal range for cattleya orchid light intensity is 300-600 mol.m2 s-1. Additionally essential for optimal Cattleya growth is enough airflow. Each fresh pseudobulb blooms throughout the same growing season, with flowering occurring once a year. According to some reports, shorter days encourage vegetative development, which results in two successive growths. Like other orchids, Cattleyas require only a small amount of fertilizer. An excess of nutrients may cause stalks to grow without flowers. But a lack of necessary macronutrients can restrict growth. Ca and S are advised to be added as supplements to mineral fertilizers. Growers and gardeners typically use a periodic spray of basic 20-20-20 fertilizer at quarter strength and a 10-10-10 fertilizer at half strength.

Pest infestations that stop plant growth and blossom development frequently affect cattleyas. Yellow aphid, Boisduval scale, and Mealy bug (Pseudococcus sp.) are the most frequent pests that harm Cattleyas (Microsiphum luteum). Any component of the plant, including the leaves, pseudobulbs, roots, petioles, and adult or nymphal flowers, can become infected by these pests. As a result, Cattleyas needs to be constantly checked for pest activity. In the event of such infestations, it is possible to periodically spray insecticides (such as Malathion, etc.).

Commercial Use

One of the most attractive and vital orchids for commerce is the cattleya. Up until the 1980s, when pot plants started to gain popularity, they were heavily employed in hybridization for the cut flower industry. Both cut flowers and potted plants, cotelyas are currently in high demand in the domestic and international markets. Cattleyas are widely utilized in landscaping, beautification, and ornamental projects (such as home gardens, parks, workplaces, and hotels). People with little room are especially interested in miniature Cattleyas. They can be used to create bouquets or sold separately and make wonderful gifts for special occasions. The Cattleya genus is particularly interesting to floriculturists because it offers a wide range of genetic variation and has a propensity for natural recombination that produces fertile hybrids. This also explains the enormous economic demand for Cattleya hybrids, which are ornamentally valuable, diversified (with notable chromosomal and morphological variants), and produce lavish flowers. Recent growth in floriculture trade and interest has prompted the commercialization and value-adding of Cattleya-based goods like perfumes (such as Red Cattleya, which costs $3 to $120.00, and Demeter, which costs $120.00), soaps, creams, and lotions (such as Topkapi, which costs €12,49), air fresheners, etc.

In several countries throughout the world, cadelya flowers are used to make corsages. Big spectacular flowers from the Cattleya plant are currently used to make pendants, hang-tangs, and other commercial products as a value-added component. To make the Cattleya orchid ornament powerful and long-lasting, a single Cattleya flower is chosen, lacquered, and then trimmed in gold. Currently, these ornaments are becoming quite well-liked in the markets across the world. To use the vibrant Cattleya flowers in floral arrangements, vases, baskets, and other dried flower crafts, they are also dried using silica gel (for microwave drying) or by freezing them. Some tribes affix musical instruments with adhesive made from the sap of Cattleya labiata var. autumnalis.

National and International Status of ‘ Cattelya’ commerce

The global import and export of floriculture products have increased, signalling the floriculture trade’s rapid growth. Particularly orchids, which command high prices on the market, are of great interest to dealers. There have been rising trends in the production and exploitation of orchids as cut flowers and potted plants in nations like the United States, Britain, France, Thailand, Australia, Hawaii, and Singapore. The leading exporter of orchids is the Netherlands, accounting for 39.67% of the global orchid market, followed by Thailand (28.41%), Taiwan (10%), Singapore (10%), and New Zealand (6%). Japan, the UK, Italy, France, and the USA are the top importers of orchids. Countries like Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia are building a name for themselves in the international floriculture forum by entirely relying on orchids. One of the common orchids grown for cut flowers and potted plants around the world is the cathelya. Cattleya gardening is highly rewarding due to its large, spectacular blooms and simplicity of development. The fact that two million Cattleya flowers are sold on the US market each year for $4.89 US each piece indicates the popularity of the plant. Singapore introduced orchid currency in 1967, with a picture of Cattleya against a Singapore shoreline on $100 bills. Cattelyakinnerii is also Costa Rica’s national flower. Orchids from the Cattleya genus, whose main importers are Japan and Singapore, account for about 2.7% of Thailand’s whole export of orchids. According to reports, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia have constructed shade nets with a 35–85% shade percentage for the sole purpose of cultivating cotelya.

Indian Scenario

India contributes 1300 species in 184 genera, making up about 7% of the world’s orchid genetic diversity, and many more species are continually being discovered. Since they make up 9% of the country’s flora, India has a remarkably diverse array of orchid species (1300 species and 140 genera). The distribution pattern identifies the Andaman and Nicobar group of Islands, the Western Himalayas, the Western Ghats, the North Eastern Himalayas, and the Peninsular region as the five primary phytogeographical zones. Cattleya orchids grow well in Arunachal Pradesh’s valleys and foothills, as well as the plains of Tripura, Assam, Kerala, Trivandrum, Karnataka, Nagaland, West Bengal, Orissa, Sikkim, and the Western Ghats. In all of the western and eastern coastal regions of Cochi, Kerala, and Trivandrum, commercial orchid production has been initiated. With the advancement of greenhouse technology, orchids may now be grown across the nation. Sobha Orchids, Orchids India, Kirali Orchids, Star Orchids, Jeeva Orchids, Madaparambil Orchids, Hafi Orchids, Classic Orchids, etc. are a few commercial orchid farms. However, due to a shortage of high-quality planting material for mass propagation and inadequate dissemination of information about the most recent scientific advancements, commercial orchid production in India is still in its infancy. Statistics show that India lags other nations in commercial orchid production by a wide margin. While domestic demand for orchids has been increasing, domestic material supply is not enough to meet the need. As a result, the value of imports has increased relative to exports. India reportedly imported 84.61 million tonnes of orchids in the fiscal year 2016–17, valued at Rs. 146.15 lakh, followed by 832.66 million tonnes in the fiscal year 2017–18 (Rs. 1193.80 lakh), and the maximum 1044.36 million tonnes of orchids in the fiscal year 2018–19. (Rs. 2321.84 lakh). In the year 2016–17, 0.74 million tonnes of orchids were shipped, generating an annual income of 5.23 lakhs. However, this income fell to 4.89 lakhs in the following year, even though the amount of exported orchids increased to 2.54 million tonnes. This demonstrates the level of competitiveness in the orchid industry and the demand for coordinated national initiatives to increase the quality and volume of orchid exports. For orchids of the genus Cattleya, the trends seem to be the same. Cattleya plants can be purchased online for an average price of Rs. 850.00 to Rs. 1500.00 in India. India still imports a significant portion of Cattleya orchids despite all the favourable conditions for their development. According to reports, around Cattleya units from Thailand ($138,811), China ($14,412), and France ($7,985) were imported in 2016 alone. The statistics serve as a wake-up call for a nation that brags of exceptional wealth in orchids yet pays other nations to supply its need for commercial orchids.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How to Care for Orchids after Flowering

Ans: After flowering is over, a Phalaneopsis orchid may still produce one or two further blooms. Only if the stem is sound, green, and shows no signs of decay. Use a sterile tool to cut the stem off at the base if it has turned brown or started to soften anyplace. The plant’s energy is redirected to the roots as a result. After blooming, Phalaneopsis orchid stems in good condition can be pruned down to the second or third node. These could cause a bloom to emerge from the growth node.

Collectors and gardeners advise that when caring for orchids once the blooms fall off, only a portion of the stem should be removed. After an orchid bloom, the American Orchid Society advises applying cinnamon powder or even melted wax to seal the wound and stop infection. Other orchid species won’t bloom from the spent flower stalk since they require specific circumstances to create flowers. Some plants, like Dendrobiums, which require 6 to 8 weeks with little water, even require a dormant period before they can produce buds. For cattleya to form buds, it needs cool nights of 45 F (7 C), but warm days. Between waterings, let the soil a little bit dry out, but never let your orchid’s soil go completely dry. After blooming, orchid care may require repotting. Orchids prefer confined spaces and only truly require new soil when it starts to degrade. Use a nice orchid mix that contains perlite, sphagnum moss, coconut fibre, and bark. When repotting, be extremely gently. Root damage can be lethal, while damage to young flower stems can hinder blossoming.

Temperature: Temperatures should range from 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The optimum temperature variation between day and night is between 15 and 20oF. Like with most plants, greater daytime temperatures call for additional humidity.

Light: Bright light with some direct sun is preferred by cattleyas, but not in the middle of the day. The ideal windows are those that face east or south but are shaded. Even a window towards the west will do. The leaves will be a medium green colour if the plant is in an area with sufficient light.

Water: Cattleyas must dry out in between waterings. During this time, plants that are growing or flowering require more water than dormant plants (after flowering and before new leaves and stems appear). Use only water that has not been treated with salts.

Humidity: Cattleyas prefer high levels of relative humidity. A humidity tray can be useful.

Fertilization: Use Better-gro, a urea-free meal with nitrate nitrogen, for fertilization. Feed your orchids every two weeks when they are actively growing and once a month when they are dormant. To avoid salt buildup, thoroughly flush with pure water once a month.

Growing Medium: Cattleyas prefer to let their foliage dry out between waterings. Bark, charcoal, and sphagnum moss are all good materials. Make sure the soil in the plant has excellent drainage. In the form of bulbs and a retentive covering on the roots, cattleyas have extensive water storage systems. Every two to three years, orchids should be repotted because the medium will start to degrade at that time.

Question: Are cattleya orchids hard to grow?

Ans: No

Question: How long do cattleya orchids live?

Ans: They are about to live 4 to 7 years

Question: How often should I water my Cattleya?

Ans: Cattleyas must dry out in between waterings. During this time, plants that are growing or flowering require more water than dormant plants (after flowering and before new leaves and stems appear). Use only water that has not been treated with salts.

Question: How long do Cattleya flowers last?

Ans: One to three weeks

2 thoughts on “Cattleya Orchid: Introduction, Features, Leaves, Roots, Pseudobulbs, Flower, General Care, and Maintenance, Commercial Use, and, Care after Flowering”

  1. A beautiful write up for subject experts and gardeners and lovers of nature.
    Students can benefit a long from the detailed write up covering almost all botanical aspects of the topic.

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