Native to tropical America. Among the most popular and best-known orchids, with showy flowers that are used for corsages.
Species, selections, and hybrids are too numerous to list here. All have pseudobulbs 13 inches thick, bearing leathery leaves and a stem topped with one to four or more flowers. Plants range in size from a few inches tall to 2 feet or more. Commercial growers offer choices with flowers in many shades of lavender and purple, as well as white-blossomed kinds and semialbas (white blossoms with colored lip). Also available are novelties in yellow, orange, red, green, and bronze; many of these are crosses between cattleyas and other orchids.
Cattleyas are widely grown outdoors year-round in the Tropical South, either in containers or naturalized on trees. Elsewhere, they are indoor plants that can be brought outdoors during warm weather. They grow best in a greenhouse where temperature, humidity, and light can be readily controlled. However, they also can be grown successfully as houseplants if the following needs are satisfied: (1) warm temperatures (5560F at night, 6580F or higher during the day); (2) relatively high humidity (50 to 60 percent or more); (3) bright indirect light with protection from hot midday sun. Leaves should be light green and erect; if light is too low, they turn dark green and new growth becomes soft.