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Cattleya growth ...so many questions!

This is a discussion on Cattleya growth ...so many questions! within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; Good Morning Everyone! My orchid addiction started with phals and expanded into all of the ...

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  1. #1
    JackiePS is offline Senior Member
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    Question Cattleya growth ...so many questions!

    Good Morning Everyone!

    My orchid addiction started with phals and expanded into all of the other species. Information is plentiful online but it's hard to find certain specific information on Cattleyas. I'm hoping some of the more experienced forum members can answer some questions for me. I have ton of questions but I will just post the more pressing ones here. I apologize in advance for the long post! I also thank everyone who is willing to take the time to read this and offer their insight.

    Here we go~~~~

    - Will each pb/growth produce a flower? When I have a young plant, can I expect a flower to emerge from each pb/growth?

    - How can I tell if a growth has already produced a flower if there isn't an obvious cut? Many of the plants I have are blooming size and have probably bloomed before. Sometimes you can see where a spike had been. Is there a way to tell if it has bloomed previously if it's not obvious to the eye? What should I look for?

    - In this photo, you can see a little brown dot type thing imbedded in the leaf crevice (front leaf to the right). I see this in many of my Catts. Is that the baby sheath?


    - Funny thing about this plant... when I purchased it, I first thought the sheath was a bud (from the online photo). Then when it arrived, I thought it was some kind of third leaf and was terribly disappointed that I would have to wait for it to bloom! Finally, I realized that it's actually a sheath, which is great, but it seems to be taking FOREVER! How long does it take to form the flower? The sheath has been present for at least a month, probably longer.

    Also, is this a good size to divide?

    - What does it signify when a pb starts to develop the papery sheath, as seen in the photo below.


    Thank you again! I look forward to getting some great info!

  2. #2
    78Terp's Avatar
    78Terp is offline An Avant Gardner
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    I'll give it a shot. Tho Catts are my least numerous orchid type.

    - Will each pb/growth produce a flower? When I have a young plant, can I expect a flower to emerge from each pb/growth?-- No and No. Even when mature, it will produce a sheath only if it has the energy to do so.

    - How can I tell if a growth has already produced a flower if there isn't an obvious cut? Many of the plants I have are blooming size and have probably bloomed before. Sometimes you can see where a spike had been. Is there a way to tell if it has bloomed previously if it's not obvious to the eye? What should I look for?-- Yes, look for a remnant of an old, cut spike. If it doesn't produce a sheath when the new growth is fresh, it likely will not.

    - In this photo, you can see a little brown dot type thing imbedded in the leaf crevice (front leaf to the right). I see this in many of my Catts. Is that the baby sheath? --- I am not sure, but I have not experienced a growth or sheath from there once it shows like that.

    - Funny thing about this plant... when I purchased it, I first thought the sheath was a bud (from the online photo). Then when it arrived, I thought it was some kind of third leaf and was terribly disappointed that I would have to wait for it to bloom! Finally, I realized that it's actually a sheath, which is great, but it seems to be taking FOREVER! How long does it take to form the flower? The sheath has been present for at least a month, probably longer. --- It is an indeterminate length of time. If you hold it up to the light do you see anything inside the sheath? Sometimes they come up empty and don't flower.

    Also, is this a good size to divide?--- Personally, I want to grow large, specimen types orchids. So dividing is a personal choice. You will have more orchids to care for if you divide and keep the division.

    - What does it signify when a pb starts to develop the papery sheath, as seen in the photo below. --- Not sure but I believe a sheath, paper or not, can fill and bloom at a later date if it stays intact.

    If others have different answers, I am always looking to hear others views.

  3. #3
    JackiePS is offline Senior Member
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    Thank you so much for your insight! I really appreciate it! Have you ever seen an older growth randomly produce a flower after a newer growth has? I'm just wondering if it's possible

  4. #4
    78Terp's Avatar
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    I have not seen that but have been told to never remove a sheath that is empty as it might some day fill and flower. So, it sounds like, in theory, that what you asked is possible. But it has to have a sheath already present, I think.

  5. #5
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    Catts require a lot of patience, lots and lots of patience, light, heat, the right conditions, some sort of voodoo and incantations, the right watering and fertilizing schedule, maybe sing to them, the right frame of mind, who knows. I have two that bloom like clockwork, the others ... well ... they probably need a Catt whisperer. They seem to have a little bud in there, they bulge, then they shrink right up. Hope springs eternal. - martha

  6. #6
    JackiePS is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teena View Post
    Catts require a lot of patience, lots and lots of patience, light, heat, the right conditions, some sort of voodoo and incantations, the right watering and fertilizing schedule, maybe sing to them, the right frame of mind, who knows. I have two that bloom like clockwork, the others ... well ... they probably need a Catt whisperer. They seem to have a little bud in there, they bulge, then they shrink right up. Hope springs eternal. - martha
    Hi Martha! Let the singing & spells begin! Surely my plants must know I love them by the amount of time I spend staring at them...lol! If only wishing made them bloom! I'm fairly hopeful that I will be seeing blooms from both of my Hawaiian Passions (Carmela & Lake View Pink Lip). I also have a Pacific Rainbow in sheath...and my Mystic Lady 'Lime Morning' also seems to be doing *something*. Seems like the more tempermental they are, the more I have to have them!

  7. #7
    Teena's Avatar
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    Catts are my orchid porn. I've given up on Dendrobiums, buy them in bloom and they never, ever rebloom for me. It's as if they are giving me the permanent single finger orchid salute. I've surrendered my dens to others, and, of course they've popped out beautiful blooming spikes immediately. But my catts I nurse along, watching them grow every more larger and healthy looking and wishfully hoping that one day they will reward me.

  8. #8
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    Harvey got most of it right, I think. Your Catt looks like a baby still, I doubt it will bloom on this growth (if my few Catts are any example, I'm not an expert). I've had several young Catts put up a pbulb with a sheath and nothing happened at all. Then one of them (sold as near blooming size by a reputable seller) had a dry sheath, after a whole winter, fill up with a flower and bloom! Now it is blooming on the next pbulb, only a couple of months after the first flower was done. Also, I've seen them put up the sheath and have it sit there green for a while, then fill and bloom. The one blooming now grew quickly, filled and bloomed, it must be happy. So far all the Catts I have brought into bloom have been pretty mature, with 10 or more pbulbs. They can grow pretty quickly though, I have one putting up 3 pbulbs this summer in different spots. I'll be able to divide that when it outgrows its pot, but I'm not in a hurry, stress cuts back on the flowers, I'm sure.

    Personally I wouldn't divide your Catt until it is really falling out of the pot, its still got room to grow. Then decide if you want more Catts, or a nice big specimen. You want to have at least 4 - 5 pbulbs in each division. However, I got a couple of divisions when a friend repotted hers and one turned out to be ONE pbulb, I gave the other two parts away and kept the single pbulb. It's taken 3 - 4 years, but now its a happy blooming plant with 11 pbulbs! Its a very vigorous plant, the parent grows like mad and blooms most of the year. I was told at our last orchid show that Catts with single leaves on the pbulbs take repotting pretty well, but if your pbulbs have double leaves, you will want to be very careful to be sure they are growing new roots when you repot - they are trickier and more likely to sulk or even die if repotted without the new growth coming on the roots. Just a tip that I was glad to learn.

    As for the papery growth on the pbulb itself, that's just a normal part of the pbulb.

    So, there's some random thoughts about Catts!

  9. #9
    JackiePS is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teena View Post
    Catts are my orchid porn. I've given up on Dendrobiums, buy them in bloom and they never, ever rebloom for me. It's as if they are giving me the permanent single finger orchid salute. I've surrendered my dens to others, and, of course they've popped out beautiful blooming spikes immediately. But my catts I nurse along, watching them grow every more larger and healthy looking and wishfully hoping that one day they will reward me.
    Ack! That is so frustrating! I only have 2.5 dendrobiums right now and a few beauties on the way. 2 of my 2.5 were delivered in bloom so we shall see what they do. I have lot's of new growth so I'm hopeful! The .5 is a baby spike cluster that fell off my aunts plant when I was re-potting for her. I think they should have a good chance because there are 2 older growths on the section. *Fingers crossed* The catt blooms are so gorgeous, it's hard to NOT favor them! They're definitely my #1 but I do love them all

    ---------- Post Merged at 11:16 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Carolla View Post
    Harvey got most of it right, I think. Your Catt looks like a baby still, I doubt it will bloom on this growth (if my few Catts are any example, I'm not an expert). I've had several young Catts put up a pbulb with a sheath and nothing happened at all. Then one of them (sold as near blooming size by a reputable seller) had a dry sheath, after a whole winter, fill up with a flower and bloom! Now it is blooming on the next pbulb, only a couple of months after the first flower was done. Also, I've seen them put up the sheath and have it sit there green for a while, then fill and bloom. The one blooming now grew quickly, filled and bloomed, it must be happy. So far all the Catts I have brought into bloom have been pretty mature, with 10 or more pbulbs. They can grow pretty quickly though, I have one putting up 3 pbulbs this summer in different spots. I'll be able to divide that when it outgrows its pot, but I'm not in a hurry, stress cuts back on the flowers, I'm sure.

    Personally I wouldn't divide your Catt until it is really falling out of the pot, its still got room to grow. Then decide if you want more Catts, or a nice big specimen. You want to have at least 4 - 5 pbulbs in each division. However, I got a couple of divisions when a friend repotted hers and one turned out to be ONE pbulb, I gave the other two parts away and kept the single pbulb. It's taken 3 - 4 years, but now its a happy blooming plant with 11 pbulbs! Its a very vigorous plant, the parent grows like mad and blooms most of the year. I was told at our last orchid show that Catts with single leaves on the pbulbs take repotting pretty well, but if your pbulbs have double leaves, you will want to be very careful to be sure they are growing new roots when you repot - they are trickier and more likely to sulk or even die if repotted without the new growth coming on the roots. Just a tip that I was glad to learn.

    As for the papery growth on the pbulb itself, that's just a normal part of the pbulb.

    So, there's some random thoughts about Catts!
    Hi Carol! Your plant sounds AMAZING. Please post a pic! What type is it?

    The plants I posted are all supposed to be blooming size so I will patiently wait and try not to overthink it! I keep hearing that patience is key with catts so I will just keep buying things in bloom in the meantime to get my fix! lol! I seriously think I would cry if nothing came out of the sheath though! I have 3 in sheath right now, so *fingers crossed*! Out of my near 50 orchids (mixed types), I have very few in bloom. Most of the ones that are in bloom either came that way, or in spike. The only type I've had proven success with so far are the phals (those are the very first plants I acquired and most of them have rebloomed for me at least once or twice). Thankfully, everything looks pretty healthy, except for a few I received with horrible root rot! Those are in my plant ICU. However, I'm pretty confident that I can heal them. I've healed many phals so hopefully I have the same good results with my sick paph & catt. Nothing like anxiously awaiting a beautiful new plant to have it arrive on it's death bed! So bummed about that! My first paph too! The catt that's sick has my favorite bloom (Dewey Forest 'Kudos'). That one came from a local orchid nursery, in bud. The buds opened to reveal the most gorgeous blooms. I'm a BIG FAN of green catts with a colorful lip. That's my sick Dewey. Anyway, the blooms didn't make it a week. Distraught, I called the nursery, who recommended repotting. When I took the plant out of the pot, completely rotted. I don't even know how that poor guy produced a flower! I'm still trying to save it. If I don't see some new growth soon, next step will be to 'sphag & bag'. I would appreciate any other suggestions too of course!

  10. #10
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    Sure, here's a picture of my big white C. Bob Betts 'Tacoma'. I love that plant and its flower. I measured them at 6.5" tall and 6" across and it smells wonderful! Sadly, shortly after I took that picture, it got hot and we found that our AC was out of coolant. Our house warmed up to 85 degrees, and all of the orchids in flower dropped their flowers within a week. However, the plants are fine, the AC is fixed so on we go! I do plan to start it's own thread sometime soon.

    Name:  C Bob Betts 'Tacoma' 5-2015a.jpg
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