Dear Doc - December 23
I received a beautiful orchid for my anniversary but I have no idea how to care it, as it is my first orchid. I water it with rainwater twice per week.
It's on my veranda because I know they don't like direct sunlight. When I received the plant, it had three scented flowers, but they have withered.
Does this mean my plant is dying? I need your assistance, please.
Water cattleyas only when the medium is dried. However, cattleyas need more water just before and during the blooming period.
When repotting, try to do it after your cattleya has bloomed and before it starts to send new growth. Cattleyas always produce a new growth right after a bloom.
The medium for potting can be one of the following, or a mixture of both, whichever one you choose: charcoal, tree fern barks, each with pebbles. Soak in water for two hours, as the dry mixture sucks the moisture from your plants.
Whenever you repot your cattleya, do not water for two to three days. And while you seem to have got the hang of the light, remember the morning sun is very important to this plant.
You can get away with fertilising once per week.
Is it true that when the orchids are on wooden stakes in the garden, they tend to do much better than when they stand alone?
Yes. I must admit that I have noticed this over the years. Even though they are not parasitic, there seems to be something going on between the orchids and the wooden stake.
Betty Ashley is an avid orchid enthusiast who has spent decades successfully cultivating orchids for herself, as well as for orchid lovers across the island, earning herself the title 'Orchid Doc'. Send your orchid questions and/or concerns to: firstname.lastname@example.org.