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Cattleya orchids empty sheaths?

This is a discussion on Cattleya orchids empty sheaths? within the Genus Specific forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hello friends... I have a couple of catts that stubbornly refuse to fill their sheaths. ...

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  1. #1
    remo is offline Senior Member
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    Default Cattleya orchids empty sheaths?

    Hello friends...
    I have a couple of catts that stubbornly refuse to fill their sheaths. They turn brown and wither down...rather depressing actually. Why does this happen?
    Remo

  2. #2
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    Halloamey is offline Senior Member
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    Sometimes its plain genetics !! Some cattleyas will flower from old brown sheaths, so do not worry. Another problem could be low humidity if genetics is not the reason.

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    remo is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks, Amey...I have the humidity set for 70% so I don't think that is it...waiting...almost patiently..,
    Remo

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    Most probably, just genetics. Another reason maybe temperature. I have a Blc King of Taiwan that persistently produced empty sheaths and I attributed that to the consistently high temps we have here, but the last 3 years it has produced blooms about 2 times a year when temps are just like t they have been all this while!

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    Sheaths don't mean a whole lot. If a sheath is going to form it will grow out at the same time that the psuedobulb grows. That doesn't mean that the orchid ready to bloom, it can be many months from blooming. Buds can form in green sheaths or dried up brown sheaths but buds don't always form on every psuedobulb that has a sheath. To confuse things even further, buds can form on psuedobulbs that have no sheath. Never cut the dried brown sheaths off. They can surprise you with buds when you least expect it sometimes.

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    Carie is offline Junior Member
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    Confused but very interested in this at the same time. I have a similar problem. I'm wondering if it's because the cattleyas that I got from the local nursery were imported from Taiwan where the climate is different. Does it take 3 years to acclimatise? I've got new roots, new pseudobulbs and dried sheaths but no flowers, not a single one Guess I'll find out in a couple year's time.

    I recently got 2 more from a local grower and one of them has put out a sheath. Man was I excited! But not the sheath is also starting to yellow and look dried up at the edges. I water it like crazy now to increase humidity (it's mounted and dries super fast) and have switched to a fertiliser with lower N to P and K.

    Do cattleyas need a big night time drop in temperature? Should I give it more light? I don't dare to move it from where it's hanging now. Also it's crazy hot here there past few weeks so I'm worried if I move it to a brighter spot it'll get sunburned. *stress*

    If I beg, will it bloom?

  7. #7
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    If you've had a cattleya for several years and it hasn't bloomed, the answer is almost always to give it more light. In Cattleyas blooming is not initiated by a drop in temperature (like phalaenopsis) but by the change in the length of daylight hours. Fall and winter blooming catts respond to shorter days and spring and summer blooming catts respond to lengthening days.

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    If you haven't had your plant for long then it probably just needs to acclimatise. This is a particular problem with plants that have been imported from the opposite hemisphere, as their biological clocks go into meltdown due to the scramble in seasons they experience. Here in the UK, plants that come from south american or australian vendors can take up to two years to acclimatise in my own experience.

    Another probability that hasn't been mentioned is age. I think more often than not people underestimate how long it takes a large-flowered cattleya to reach adulthood/blooming size (I find vendors always seem a bit optimistic when they say 1 or 2 years from flowering size). Some of the large unifoliate species can take 6 to 10 years to reach blooming size from germination. The fact that you have a plant with a few pseudobulbs means nothing unless you are sure that it is a division of a blooming-size plant (in which case 4 pseudobulbs is generally the minimum size the plant needs to produce flowers). If you can see some pseudobulbs on your plant that are significantly smaller than the others, then you probably have a seedling or a mericlone (in which case you might have no choice but to wait until the plant decides it's old enough to bloom). Even young plants will produce sheaths, but they won't produce flowers from them. I was given a young NOID cattleya with 8 pseudobulbs in the late 90s, the smallest being less than an inch and the largest just over 8 inches in hight, so I thought it must be nearly blooming size since it was probably 4 to 8 years old (1 to 2 pseudobulbs per year seemed reasonable). WRONG!!! I had to wait 7 years for the plant to bloom! By this time the plant must have been at least 11 years old. Anyway, just as well I didn't give up on it, it turned out to be a light-coloured Cattleya maxima and it's my favourite of the cattleyas I have.
    Last edited by serama; June 27th, 2012 at 11:46 AM.

  9. #9
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    I completely agree with Tony's observations. One other thing that hasn't been mentioned is bifolate cattleyas. Biflolates are very sensitive to repotting. They will often refuse to bloom for a couple of years after being repotted.

  10. #10
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    @ Carina : most cattelyas from Taiwan bloom easily in Malaysia and so should also do so in Singapore. The ones that are difficult to bloom for me are those that have the cooler Sophronitis parentage.

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