Dear Docs - July 22
I've noticed that not much is asked or said about the Cattleya orchid. I have a few growing and would appreciate any recommendations you can offer on their growth and to get them to bloom more often.
Cattleya orchids need about 50 per cent of the sunlight at its brightest. Their colour should not be very green as that means they are not receiving enough sunlight. Cattleyas grow best if they're allowed to get dry in-between watering. They love tree fern bark, so it is recommended that you grow it on the slab, as it will dry out much faster that way. Please re-pot it when it has outgrown the pot, or if the medium has become too mushy or sour. Fertilise with a high-percentage nitrogen fertiliser such as 30-10-20, mixing one teaspoon per gallon of water. Cattleyas don't bloom very often like sun vandas. If I am not mistaken they bloom once per year; however, there are hybrids that bloom more often.
Why do I have to spray every two weeks in these hotter months?
Like they say, "Everything has their season." Some insects prefer the heat, like the spider mites, which distort the blooms and leaves of the plants. If you should skip spraying, you run the risk of losing your blooms. If it is that you don't like the chemicals, there are alternatives that could be used instead -- just check your farm stores. During the summer when the sun gets hot very early, I would recommend you spray the chemicals in the late evenings.
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.