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Cattleyas and Catt crosses - bad winter, watering questions

This is a discussion on Cattleyas and Catt crosses - bad winter, watering questions within the Genus Specific forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; I live in Michigan - and yet, I try to grow orchids in my home. ...

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  1. #1
    Zoomom31 is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2013

    Default Cattleyas and Catt crosses - bad winter, watering questions

    I live in Michigan - and yet, I try to grow orchids in my home. I have a corner-angled kitchen sink, and the area between the back of the sink to the 2 windows, is my orchid area. I have tried to choose orchids that will do well in this home environment, but sometimes, I fear I have not chosen wisely.

    I had some heavy losses because of the very long, very cold winter we had this year. Due to the proximity of the windows to the plants, cold was a real problem. I believe that the cold alone did in about 5 of my plants. The other problem was the watering/misting - with it being so cold, I wondered if I was sealing their doom further by watering/misting.

    By far, the heaviest losses were the Catts and Catt crosses, though I also lost 2 Epi/Enc as well. The Catts that haven't actually perished, appear to have sort of "pruny" leaves, like when you are in the water too long? On the 5 plants that have this effect, there are still some nearly normal looking leaves, so I have not completely given up on them. But there has been no new growth at all.

    If I understand correctly, Catts don't like to be watered a lot, is that right? What about misting? I mist everyone daily, but the actual watering, I do only twice a week for the Catts and Catt crosses. If this is wrong, please tell me!!

    If I shouldn't even attempt to grow these beauties with the climate and limited facilities that I have for orchids, I'd appreciate knowing that too.

    Thanks for any help!!


  2. #2
    Arne is offline Member
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    Jun 2014
    Baltimore, MD, USA


    You can do it! Have you grown Cattleyas before elsewhere?

    The most important parts of Cattleya culture is light and not too high temperatures. When it comes to temperature, people in England used to say that Cattleyas want the same day and night temperatures as people. As everyone else knows, you freeze all the time in England, especially at night unless it's between July and September when its too warm.

    Whether you like living in England or not, it gives you an idea of how to culture almost 100 % of all Cattleyas . The exception is Cattleya dowiana that wants warm and humid conditions all the time. So I guess you probably have the right temperatures for Cattleya culture where you live. What you can do is to maximize the difference between day and night, both when it comes to temperature and light. Try to give them at least 12 - 14 hours of total darkness during winter and at least 10 - 12 hours of darkness during spring and summer. The temperature should reach around 70- 73 degrees F during night in summer and 60 - 69 degrees F during winter (lower end is better). However, the light and light variations are most important. I don't know how much light you can give them where you live. I think you should try some extra light during the day if nothing else works. Maybe you should contact Jerry Fisher at Orchids Limited because he knows a lot about the light situation where you live. I want to stress though that there are Cattleya species that will flower very well where you live and they happen to be more beautiful than most hybrids. These are Cattleya labiata, mendelii, mossiae, and warneri. (Note that labiate really needs day and light variations.) There are probably more pure species that will like it under your conditions. I would also like to suggest some hybrids related to England such as Cattleya Bob Betts. ---- vendor information removed -see faqs on posting----. Stay away from Laelia, both species and hybrids, because they want more light.

    One of my first orchids was a Cattleya labiata. I was just around 20 years old and lived in Sweden at the time (very, very dark) and knew almost nothing about orchid culture. But the only thing I needed to do was to give it normal orchid care and, from September till October, I put a paper bag over the plant between 6 PM and 8 AM and it always flowered after that.

    Good Luck!

  3. #3
    Xara's Avatar
    Xara is offline Senior Member
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    Strängnäs, Sweden
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    It's cold in Sweden too, but our windows seem to be good enough to shield the plants. I have lots and lots of Catts and Catt crosses in all windows and they seem happy enough :-). I plant them in sphagnum and bark and only water them once every 3-4 weeks. IF it gets really hot and sunny in the summer (a few days every year if we're lucky, haha!), they can get watered a little more. I don't mist them specifically, but since I mist my Phrags and other orchids the Catts get their share as well.

  4. #4
    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
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    Jan 2007
    Saratoga Co. New York


    Misting can cause issues and I don't believe in misting.. If the leaves are prune-like that I suspect that they were not getting enough water. That could be from under watering or root loss which would not allow the plant to absorb water. Watering schedule depends on size of pot and plant and medium being used. Catts need to approach dryness between watering. In a central heated home, with low winter humidity, watering 2x per week seems appropriate if one is using bark mix and clay pots. How cold did it get in that corner? Did you have a thermometer there to check temps? One wouldn't want temps to get much lower than the mid 50's

  5. #5
    Carolla's Avatar
    Carolla is offline Senior Member
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    Phals, Catts, Onc. Alliance
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    Dec 2012
    Eastern WA State, USA


    MI should be a fine place to grow orchids. My daughter just moved out there last fall with her houseplants and orchids. She was fortunate to find a house to buy this spring with two enclosed porches, plenty of windows and light. Her humidity seems to be great, but she's fairly near the lake too.

    I suspect that when its really nasty out, you'd want to move the plants away from the window a bit to protect them from cold. I'm assuming your windows don't keep the cold out very well. You sure had a terrible and cold winter last winter! You could also put plastic over the windows to cut down on drafts. Better for them to miss out on some light and live than to get frozen and die, poor things. I agree, get a thermometer to put in the orchid area to monitor conditions.

    I know a sudden cold night knocked the flowers off one of my blooming catts this spring. I took them all out to my (enclosed and heated) grooming shop to do some potting and spraying and forgot to bring them in and forgot to put the heat on. I lost a few leaves on a couple of plants and the flowers off the catt. It wasn't that cold, but they weren't used to it either.

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