How to Care for Cattleya Orchids


Cattleya orchids are the classic corsage flowers---big, splashy blossoms with large petals that are native to the tropics of the Western hemisphere. There are many species and hybrids---mostly the latter, because orchid breeders are constantly and enthusiastically crossing cattleya species to produce new varieties.

Step 1

Plant your cattleya orchids in flowerpots that have a hole in the bottom for drainage, in potting medium that will drain quickly.

Step 2

Set the potted orchids into the sink, turn the tap on and water the plants for about 30 seconds, and then turn the water off and let the excess water run out of the pots into the sink. Do this several times for about 15 minutes total.

Step 3

Put a layer of pebbles in a metal or plastic tray, one pebble thick. Fill the tray halfway up with water.

Step 4

Set the flowerpots on top of the pebbles in the tray.

Step 5

Put the flowerpots where the plants can get bright, but not direct, sunlight for six to eight hours a day.

Step 6

As long as the orchids are flowering, water them twice weekly as described in Step 2. Test the soil by sticking your finger into the potting medium. If it's dry, go ahead and water the flower. If it's damp, wait to water the orchid for another day or two.

Step 7

Fertilize the orchids every other week with 20-20-20 fertilizer diluted to 1/2 or 1/4 of the strength recommended on the packaging.

Things You'll Need

  • Cattleya orchids
  • Flowerpots with drain holes in their bottoms
  • Fast-draining potting medium
  • Metal or plastic tray about an inch deep
  • Pebbles
  • 20-20-20 fertilizer


  • Cattleya; Sunset Western Garden Book; 1996
  • Cattleya Orchid Care: A Quick and Easy Guide
Keywords: cattleya orchids, orchid care, growing conditions for orchids

About this Author

Cheyenne Cartwright has worked in publishing for more than 25 years. She has served as an editor for several large nonprofit institutions, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including "Professional Bull Rider Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oklahoma Christian University and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Tulsa.