Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Growing Cattleya Orchids in Houston

I belong to an ‘orchid of the month club’. Which means that before too long I have orchids coming out of my ears and no place to put them. Last winter I decided the cattleya orchids were on their own. ‘Live or die’, I declared, the choice is yours.

Surprisingly they did survive the mild winter later in a colder winter with several real freezes they died.

To grow cattleya orchids outside in Houston year round you need a wet spot in the garden. They love to be damp and it just can’t be too humid for them.

Despite being sun loving plants, full sun in Houston was too much. I find 2-3 hours of sun is enough to keep the leaves kelly green and give them enough food for blooming.

If the weather gets cold protect them when you cover your other tender plants.

Cattleya plants first arrived in the new world from South and Central American unexpectedly. They arrived in England with a shipment of ferns and were used as packaging for the ferns. William Cattley potted some up out of curiosity. In 1818 they bloomed and have been the love of flower lovers ever since.

Despite attempts to grow and local more they were lost to the new world until they were re-found in 1889.

Their popularity decreased their numbers in the wild and continues to do so today.

No bloom – plant needs more light
Root rot – they love water but be sure they are not sitting in water. Move them to a new better draining location.
Virus – their is no hope, destroy plants before virus can spread ( leaves get yellow blotches and streaks that turn brown. Leaves may have rings of yellow dots. )
Scale – physically remove scale, treat with insecticide oil.
Mealy bugs – wash off with soap and water.

Propagation is easiest by division.