Cattleya labiata

Cattleya is certainly the queen of orchids. This is a genus that belongs to the order of Orchidaceae and contains about 60 species.

Cattleya produces beautiful large flowers, usually fragrant, 5 to 15 cm and in all colors except blue and black. They are widely grown for hybridization, cut flowers and houseplants.

Cattleya trianae or Christmas orchid is the national emblem of Colombia.

For the French author Proust, this orchid symbolizes love and he used the phrase “to make cattleya” to describe the game of lovemaking.

The genus Cattleya belongs to the family Orchidaceae, sub-family Epidendroideae, tribe Epidendreae, sub-tribe Laeliinae, alliance Cattleya.



Cattleya is a sympodial epiphyte with pseudobulbs from which rise 1 or 2 leaves that are elongated oval-shaped to short and sword-shaped.

The flowering stem grows from the sheath at the base of the leaf bears 2-15 flowers. They are a wide variety of color and size according to species and hybrids. Each flower measures 5-15 cm high.
Flowering occurs in winter and each plant can produce 10 to 15 flowers. The bloom lasts about 10 weeks.

Plants with a single leave generally form a single large flower. Those with two leaves usually produce a cluster of flowers.


Central America and South America


The rainforest where they grow as epiphytes on trees. Rainfall is abundant throughout the year and the temperature differences between day and night are greater than between winter and summer.


The name Cattleya was given in honor of an Englishman, Lord William Cattley, a collector of orchids. The story goes that he had received a batch of plants from Brazil which were wrapped in weird leaves. One of these leaves, wearing a button, was planted and formed a plant with a remarkable a flower, the Cattleya.



Night: 13-16 °C
Day: 21-29 °C


Sunlight but no direct sunlight as in nature, where light is filtered through the treetops. Ideally, a window to the east or west or south window but filtered through a net curtain.
The leaves should be bright green. When the plant gets too much light, the leaves turn yellow and when the plant does not receive enough light, the leaves become dark green.


Once or twice a week during the growing season and fortnightly during the rest period. Let the substrate dry out between waterings: better too dry than too wet.

Prefers rainwater or non-alkaline water at room temperature. Do not use water from a water softener because it contains too much salts.

Shower the pot once a month to rinse accumulated salts.


50-80 %At higher temperatures, the humidity must be higher. You can place the pot over a bowl of water without the pot soaking in the water.


Only use a special orchid substrate composed of bark, peat moss and perlite or pumice.

This modified substrate provides the necessary support to the plant (so it does not fall), a good aeration of the roots and retains water.


Use a fertilizer with high nitrogen content: 30-10-10.

You can also use a 20-20-20 fertilizer which must be diluted to 1/4 of the dilution recommended by the manufacturer.

Give every 2 weeks during the growing season and only 1 time per month during the rest period.


When the substrate is digested, about every 2 years, or when roots begin to grow out of the pot.Repot after flowering or in the spring. You can take the opportunity to divide the plant. Keep groups of at least three pseudobulbs.


Most Cattleya’s bloom once a year, some hybrids bloom twice. The flower stalk emerges from a sheath that develops from the leaf base.

During flowering, it is important to water less frequently to avoid rotting.

Key factors for good flowering are light and a clear difference in temperature day and night.



When repotting in spring, the plant can be divided into groups bearing at least three pseudobulbs mature each.

By dividing, we keep the characteristics of the mother plant and obtain identical offspring.


Growing from seed is difficult and irregular. The offspring are not identical to the parents. This technique is mainly used to create new hybrids.