The Q&A Archives: orchids

Question: How can I get my catleya's to bloom, they've been fed and repotted. Is there a certain blooming time for catleya's?

Answer: Most of the wild Cattleya orchids grow in rain forests of South America, namely in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Mexico. They flourish in the Andes from altitudes near sea level to high altitudes of 9,000 - 10,000 feet. They are used to being partly covered by the canopy of the rain forest and get considerable humidity and bright light.

Humidity is a friend to Cattleyas because they are native to rain forests. Most Cattleya orchids do well set on humidity trays. These are metal or plastic trays filled with pepples and then half full with water. The plant roots cannot sit in water for a long period of time or else they will develop root rot.

Cattleyas are orchids that can and should get dry between watering after blooming. This aids in the growth of healthy pseudobulbs. Be sure that the potting medium allows the water to drain out fairly rapidly.

To check to see if a plant needs water stick a wooden pencil or your finger about 1 inch into the potting material and see if it comes out dry or damp. If dry it needs watering. If damp it may be able to go another day or two without water.

If plants blossom in the winter or spring they deserve a rest period of about 6 to 8 weeks. During this time water them about once a week and keep the lighting the same.

If the plants blossom in the summer time no rest period is needed.

Fertilizing should take place about every other week with a balanced formula like 20-20-20. The saying is "Weekly, weakly" which means it is good with orchids to dilute the fertilizer to half or one quarter strength and fertilze more often.

Follow these easy steps and your Cattleya orchid should bloom regularly for you. Enjoy!

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