The best of our summer orchid blooming comes from the Brazilian Cattleya. While the Cymbidium are mostly in growing-mode, with the exception of the Australian species, the Laelia (Cattleya) species from Brazil are in fine form. Our seasonal temperatures tend to vary considerably now; however, the peak of flowering is usually July into early August.
Cattleya (Laelia) purpurata is both beautiful and temperature tolerant. At our location, we move our plants outside when nights are consistently above 45-50F (7-10C), from approximately April to November. They over-winter in the humid cool room (minimum nights of 50F/10C). Other local growers near the coast, with milder conditions, keep their Cattleya (Laelia) purpurata year-round in unheated greenhouses, and they tolerate occasional freezing conditions.
We grow all of our Brazilian Cattleya (Laelia) in hydroton (clay pellets). Cattleya (Laelia) purpurata is grown in clay pots, which are ideal for rapid drying and stability for the larger plants. Smaller species, such as Cattleya (Laelia) alaorii and Cattleya (Laelia) pumila are potted in plastic containers for more moisture retention. Our outdoor Cattleya (Laelia) species (C. purpurata, C. grandis, C. tenebrosa, C. virens, C. crispa) are watered 2-3 times per week in summer, depending on temperature and coastal fog conditions. During hotter, drier periods, they are watered as often as daily if needed.
As I have noted for many orchid species, we prefer to use inorganic media as much as possible. It works well for us because of 1) frequent watering, 2) use of highly filtered or RO water, 3) a low nitrogen fertilizer program, and 4) attention to proper pH of fertilizer water (due to the lack of buffering from organic media).
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My vision to create orchid portraits emerged from my appreciation for the “whole orchid.” So many photographs of orchids focus only on the flower. But orchids are not flowers: they are entire plants and living beings. Connect more deeply with the many dimensions of orchids …