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Brazilian Orchid Cattleya

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Sophronitis
Phonetic Spelling
KAT-lee-yuh
Description

A genus of orchids native to much of South America.  They can be lithophytes (grow on rocks) or epiphytes (grow on trees) and generally prefer humid environments.  Many different species, cultivars, and hybrids exist for cultivation, most bearing large, colorful, showy flowers.

These plants grow best in bright, indirect light; the leaves will be lime green in color when the light levels are optimal.  A south-facing window works well and most will need 5,000 fc light intensity to flower consistently (full, direct sunlight is approximately 10,000 fc by comparison).  They tolerate temperatures between 60 and 90 F and prefer higher humidity levels.  Let the potting mix mostly dry out between waterings, but never let it fully dry.  Only divide if there will be least 4-5 pseudobulbs per division.

Quick ID:

  • Thin pseudobulbs that emerge from the rhizome
  • Thick, waxy leaves
  • Colorful flowers with wide segments

 

VIDEO Created by Laura Barth for "Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti", a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
C. forbesii, C. labiata, C. mossiae, C. trianae
Tags:
#showy flowers#houseplant#perennials#specimen#colorful#epiphytic#hanging baskets#herbaceous perennials#large flowers#orchid#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#container plants#hsc#hsc-fl
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
C. forbesii, C. labiata, C. mossiae, C. trianae
Tags:
#showy flowers#houseplant#perennials#specimen#colorful#epiphytic#hanging baskets#herbaceous perennials#large flowers#orchid#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#container plants#hsc#hsc-fl
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cattleya
    Family:
    Orchidaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Epiphyte
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Variegated
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Lipped
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    The inflorescence usually contains 2-5 flowers in a terminal raceme, though some species have tens of flowers per inflorescence. Only one stalk grows per pseudobulb. The inflorescence is enclosed in a sheath to support the weight of the flowers. The flowers are large and brightly colorful, most being between 4"-10" with some species as small at 2". The segments of the flower are wide. The lips will often contrast in color from the rest of the flower.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Waxy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves emerge from pseudobulbs, one to six leaves per bulb. They are thick, waxy, and leathery, ranging from 4"-15" in length and 3" wide. The venation is parallel and the midveins are deeply impressed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Hanging Baskets
    Houseplants
    Design Feature:
    Specimen