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Question regarding care of a small Cattleya aurea (= Cattleya dowiana var. aurea)

This is a discussion on Question regarding care of a small Cattleya aurea (= Cattleya dowiana var. aurea) within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I acquired my C. Dowiana as a small plant about a month ago. The youngest ...

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  1. #1
    Catt Mandu's Avatar
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    Default Question regarding care of a small Cattleya aurea (= Cattleya dowiana var. aurea)

    I acquired my C. Dowiana as a small plant about a month ago. The youngest leaf is about 4 inches long excluding the pseudobulb. It was originally potted in sphagnum in a 4-inch terracotta pot, I worked the sphagnum out & replaced with cork pieces. The newest growth is developing roots, all seems healthy right now.

    I understand that adult C. dowiana require a fairly dry rest in the winter (my understanding is not bone dry, but infrequent and light watering, roots only). For those of you experienced with this species, should a small plant like this one be given a similar dry rest? If yes, when would you start growing it drier, how often would you give it some light watering (possibly mist roots only)?

    Any advice appreciated. Thanks!

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    While the plants are young, and in no "fear" of blooming, I continue to feed and water them all year. As they approach maturity, I'll back off on the feeding (not the watering) over winter.

    A rest period should be thought of as a time of no nutrition - especially nitrogen - not a time of no water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by raybark View Post
    A rest period should be thought of as a time of no nutrition - especially nitrogen - not a time of no water.
    Is this true for dendrobium rest periods too?

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    Thanks Ray. On varying posts regarding this species, I have heard they can be "touchy" and prone to rot. I posted this same question on other forums, & was advised that winter watering should be more like a "morning dew" rather than watering. With your C. dowiana, do you take the same watering approach in the winter, or do you water more than the "morning dew" recommendation?

    ---------- Post Merged at 10:12 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by 78Terp View Post
    Is this true for dendrobium rest periods too?
    Others with more expertise growing Dendrobiums may want to chime in, but there are different groups of Dendrobiums, with different cultural requirements, including different requirements for rest periods. I suspect that the Dendrobiums that need a winter rest would possibly require a different type of rest period than Cattleya dowiana.

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    Harvey, Dendrobiums are sunch a diverse genus that an answer can't be given without referring to a particular species or hybrid.

    ---------- Post Merged at 05:00 PM ----------

    Catt, although there are exceptions virtually all orchids should be watered thoroughly when they are watered. If a particular plant is susceptible to rot or wants to be kept drier I do a few things. First is use a clay pot and make sure it is no larger than it needs to be. Another amendment is to add some extra drainage materials to the potting mix. You can also use more drainage in the bottom of the pot. I have a C. intermedia that I just repotted. The nursery that I purchased it from had it in a plastic pot that was 3/4 full of styrofoam peanuts with about an inch of moss on top. The root system was excellent with no dead roots. The idea that I'm trying to make is to keep your watering schedule so that your plants can all get watered together and adjust individual plants so they stay drier or more moist by fine tuning their personal environment. I hope this sheds light on things.

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    Thank you Wade. To optimize drainage, I have this plant potted in a small clay pot, using wine corks as the primary growing medium (I have been using wine corks as a growing medium for Cattleyas for several years now; works great, especially for Catts that seem to require better drainage than others).

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    Hmmm maybe I should take up wine drinking?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carolla View Post
    Hmmm maybe I should take up wine drinking?
    Well, it's a tough job, but someone has to!

    Although I do consume some of the wine my corks come from, I have family & friends that save them for me as well. Although I mostly use the kind that are real cork (from wine, sherry, scotch), I am now saving the plastic ones too. The real corks have lasted for years with no breakdown to speak of, just some graying on the outside. The plastic ones should last forever. I just wash them before I use them.

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    I agree with Ray and Wade. Small clay pots, good drainage (I use a lot of Styrofoam peanuts), not necessary to dry a lot when plants are still young. For mature plants is important, to have some dry rest period. However, the species does not like over watering.
    Quote Originally Posted by Catt Mandu View Post
    Thank you Wade. To optimize drainage, I have this plant potted in a small clay pot, using wine corks as the primary growing medium (I have been using wine corks as a growing medium for Cattleyas for several years now; works great, especially for Catts that seem to require better drainage than others).
    I like experiments, too. However, the wine corks did not work well for me. Someone told me that wine corks still contain a lot of acids. I am not a chemist so I don't know for sure, but it sounds reasonable. Anyway, to make a long story short. All my Catts planted in wine cork media including small seedling of C. dowiana aurea and a back bulb division of C. dowiana var. rosita, died. I cannot say that the wine cork media was the reason why they died, but my plants did not benefit from it I can say. I mostly use a traditional bark-charcoal-perlite mix and it works great for me.
    I still have one plant with wine cork as media, Dendrobium farmeri. It is growing in a small plastic basket with wine corks as support. It seems to be OK.
    Anyway, good luck with your new baby!

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    Catt - in nature, those catts don't get a lot of rain in the winter, but the RH stays pretty high, and there is a lot of fog, so moisture is no issue. In captivity, the key is doing whatever is necessary to prevent desiccation, and not much more.

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