Related species include Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Paphiopedilum, Phalaenopsis.
Flowers 2-5 inches across, with 3 colored sepals, large side petals and a broad, tongue-shaped lip that is frilled or fringed.
Stems up to 20 inches long with one or more flowers.
Plant is an epiphytic perennial, in nature it grows on tree branches, classed as a monocotyledon, leaves mostly parallel veined.
Some flower types are fragrant.
55-60 F, can be stored 1 week.
Named for William Cattley, a lover of horticulture in the 19th century, who received the first Cattleya plants as packing material around other plants shipped to him from Brazil.
Orchids have long been highly sought after, probably for the unusual beauty of their design. Orchid hunters in the nineteenth century collected them by the ton, and chopped down as many as four thousand trees at one time for the Orchids growing on them.
Most are classified as “epiphytes” or air plants as they grow on other plants and elevated supports. They are not parasites but obtain water and nutrients through a spongy covering of their roots.
Chilling injury or ethylene damage appears as translucent or dried patches on petals and sepals.
Cattleya orchids are actually a complex group of hybrids involving the genera Cattleya, Laelia, Brassavola and Sophronitas. This family is generally believed to contain the largest number of species, somewhere around 30,000.