Cattleya

(Question)

My cattleyas are growing so well that they have now outgrown the pots.
1. Should I use a bigger pot or should I divide them? What is best time to do this?
2. Where can I buy soil for this plant?
2. Should I cut plant to the root after blooming ?

(Answer)

Thank you for your question.  Orchids should be repotted about every two or three years as they will outgrow the pot in that time and the fir bark will begin to break down by then. It is preferable to repot in the spring after the new growth has reached 2 -3 cm in length

The basic steps for repotting an orchid are:

  • Select a pot large enough to permit about 2 years growth (approximately 3 – 5 cm) between the new growth section and the edge of the pot. Cover the bottom of the pot with broken crock and partially fill with bark or mix.
  • Trim roots back to fit the pot and cut off old (brown-brittle) roots completely. Place the rhizome so that it rests just below the pot rim. Press bark firmly into pot and around the roots with fingertips.
  • Place a stake into the pot or clip stake to the pot rim and tie all leaves to the stake so the plant is held firmly. Firm potting is a must.
  • Water heavily once, then use water very sparingly until new root tips appear. Misting helps at this time. When roots appear, water in the normal manner.

Should the plant appear to be drying up and not responding to the new potting, place the plant in a clear polyethylene bag. Moisten the bark well and tie the top of the bag loosely and hang in a shady area until root action appears. Then remove from the bag and grow in the normal manner.

When your plant is in bud be sure it does not receive the direct rays of the sun. For Cattleya, after the flowers have faded and died, cut off the flower stem and pod-like sheath down to the axil of the leaf without cutting the leaf. Your plant will not flower again until the following year at about the same time. In order for it to bloom again it must develop new growths (stem or pseudo bulb and leaf) from which the flowers will appear. Each growth blooms only once and sends out new growths or pseudo-bulbs to bloom the following year. The old growths will remain green and active in producing food for the plant for four to six years. Then they will eventually turn yellow, dry and die.

You can purchase “orchid soil” at any reputable garden centre or nursery.

Further information about orchids can be obtained from our orchid guide on our Toronto Master Gardener website: Growing Orchids- A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide.