(cat' laa-yah)

Common name: Corsage Orchid, Cattleya

Family: Orchidaceae, Orchid

Height x width: 12" x 12"

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: oblong to broadly obovate dull and pale green leaves 4-6" long, 1 or 2 per erect pseudobulb (thickened sideshoot) from short rhizomes; sympodial growth (in 2 directions)

Flowers: large 2-6" across and showy emerging from thick, bract-like sheaths; 3 outer sepals and 3 inner petals with one forming a lip or flared tube; parts may be of same or different colors, with purples, pinks, reds, yellows and white most common; often fragrant; in clusters of 3-4

Light: bright

Temperature: cool to warm, cool nights prefered

Watering: well-watered

Fertility: low

Humidity: humid

Soil: epiphytic

Pests and Problems: fungal and bacterial pseudobulb and leaf rots, viruses, scales, spider mites, whiteflies, aphids, mealybugs; the plant dies if too cool continually or too dry; no flowers form if too dark

Growth habit, uses: flowering indoor plant, cut flower in vials for corsages (especially popular in mid part of this century)

Other interest: about 40 species native to the tropical Americas, epiphytic and often found along mountain streams; white surface roots act as sponge to absorb water and nutrients; many intergeneric hybrids exist, particularly with Laelia (x Laleocattleya); named for 19th century British horticulturist William Cattley

Other culture: must have high humidity but good ventilation and air movement; prefers warm days and cool nights

Propagation: division when potbound with at least 4 pseudobulbs per division


These generally fall into two groups: those with one large leaf per pseudobulb and large flowers (6" across), and those with 2-3 leaves and smaller flowers (2-4").
Species leaves flowers, width
aurantiaca 2, 4-8" long orange to red, dark spotted lips, 2" 
bicolor 2, 5-8" long yellowish to brown, red lips, 4"
bowringiana 2, 5-8" long rose, purple lips, white throats, 3"
dowiana 1, 12" long yellow, red veined lips, 5" 
forbesii 2, 6" long pink, yellow throat and stripe, 3" 
guttata 2, 10" long yellow to lime, spotted, rose lips, 3" 
labiata 1, 12" long pinkish, purple lips yellow veined, 6"
mossiae 1, 12" long pink, white to lilac lips, yellow center, 6"
skinneri 2, 12" long purple, white lips, 4" 
trianae 1, 12" long white, purplish tinge, pink lips, 8"
walkeriana 1, 2-4" long white, pink lips, 4"

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS121, Indoor Plants.

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