Articles About Orchids
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Articles About Orchids
   Christmas to me, is a time of love and joy, not presents (although I won't turn any down!)
   For this reason I have chosen the most loved orchid there is in the world, the Cattleya orchid. The Cattleya species and hybrids are the most popular and prized orchids in the orchid world.

   As I look around my greenhouse I am always amazed at how a plant that is not very pretty, with stiff leaves and large pseudobulbs (the thickened portion of a stem, but not a true bulb) can produce such beautiful flowers. The plant I am talking about is the Cattleya orchid.
    The Cattleya species and their numerous hybrids are among the most sought after orchids by the orchid professional as well as the hobbyist because the blooms of the Cattleya orchids are some of the most beautiful and exotic flowers in the world. The blooms are often very large (5 to 6 inches) and scented with a sweet perfume that engulfs you with a fragrance that is hard to forget. The flowers come in a large variety of colors, from soft lavenders to deep reds, brilliant whites, warm yellows, and an amazing blue, plus almost everything in between as well as many color combinations.

   Many of the blooms also have frilly lips that remind you of lace. The lips are so delicate and intricate that it is hard to believe that they are real. Because the blooms are very long lasting (up to 8 weeks), they make excellent cut flowers.
   These spectacular flowers have dominated the florist market for the last century. Cattleyas, known as the "Queen of Orchids," are old familiar faces to us, even if we can't put a name to them. The exotic flower you see decorating the tops of the fancy chocolates you bought for your sweetheart, or elegantly portrayed on many greeting cards and gift wrapping paper, is a Cattleya.

   The beautiful corsages worn by brides on their wedding day, and the bride's bouquet will usually have one large Cattleya in the middle to represent the love from her soon to be groom. High school girls receive beautiful corsages from their prom date made from the bloom of the Cattleya. I can just see a young man smelling the orchid and trying to decide what color would look best on his very special girl's dress.
Cattleya labiata
  Romance has surrounded this beautiful flower for centuries. It represents love, luxury, and beauty. In times of old, these orchids were even used as aphrodisiacs! The Cattleya is also the flower of the Aquarius. (Gee, maybe that is why I love them so much! Because I am an Aquarius) .

   Have you ever had an orchid appear in your dreams? If so, it is said that the orchid in your dream is telling you that you have a deep inner need to keep the gentleness, delicacy, and romance in your relationships.

   These wonderful orchids are not hard to grow in your home or greenhouse. Their requirements are quite easy to maintain.   Cattleyas must have good light and some sun to bloom. In the home they prefer an eastern, southern or slightly shaded western exposure.

   Temperature should range from 55 to 60 F at night and 65 to 75 F during the day. They require a humidity of 50% to 60%.
   In nature the roots of the Cattleyas are exposed to cycles of wetting and drying. In cultivated plants they need to become almost dry before watering. They must be fed fertilizer and the best advice I can give is "weakly, weekly."
Beautiful painting of Cattleya labiata by Sue Abonyi -- point your cursor to the painting for a photo
   Cattleyas have been used in hybridizing with many other genera, creating the Cattleya alliance:

Laeliocattleya (Laelia x Cattleya)
Brassolaeliocattleya (Brassavola x Cattleya x Laelia)
Brassocattleya (Brassavola x Cattleya)
Sophrolaeliocattleya (Cattleya x Laelia x Sophronitis)
Sophrocattleya (Cattleya x Sophronitis) are the most common hybrids.

   As I gaze wistfully at the beautiful and fragrant flowers of the Cattleyas growing in my greenhouse I can understand why this flower of beauty, beyond comparison, is truly the Orchid of Love.

   If you would like to see more photos of wild Cattleya species including ones hardly if ever seen in hobbyists collections switch your browser to full screen mode (F 11) and visit my Orchid Nighths site.

   I have written a very special story about a Cattleya titled "The Christmas Miracle " that I would like to share with you during the Christmas season. I hope you will enjoy it and feel the love that inspired the story.