Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cattleya orchid - var Grapewax

Cattleya genus, perhaps more than any other, has captured enthusiasm and imagination of orchid growers throughout the world. Many growers specialise in the cultivation of Cattleyas and related genera,with flamboyant colourful hybrids, replacing the species in many collections. But its all started from very humble beginnings...

As with many major events in history, the most significant usually occur by accident. So it was with "cattleyamania" that was to sweep Europe, and subsequently United States. 
A consignment of topical plants was being dispatched to England in 1812 from South America by a mr William Swainson who supervised collected orchids shipments and who, to protect them, packed round them some other tropical plants bearing strong "stems" and tough foliage. At least some of this consignment reached mr William Cattley, of Barnet, a keen cultivator of tropical plants and one of the first amateur orchid growers. Cattley was intrigued by this "packing material" and succeeded in growing some of them, the first of which flowered in November 1818. The large flowers with their flamboyant colors created a sensation, as nothing similar had been seen in cultivation before. It was studied by Dr Lindley, who found it to be an entirely new genus and named it after its owner.

From these humble beginnings sprang fascination and obsession of collecting these beautiful Cattleyas by orchid growers from all over the world.

Now we know that there are about 65 species of Cattleya, all growing in Central and South America. They grow on trees or rocks often in very exposed situations and range from lowlands to above 2500m altitude. In parts of their range the climate is strongly seasonal with distinct wet and dry seasons and this seasonality is reflected in the distinct dormant and active growth stages of many species in cultivation.

My cattleya that just flowered is var Grapewax - with beautiful large dark pink color flowers. Its easy to grow and it likes bright light, plenty of air movement around it . It gets plenty of water during growing season and then reduced watering during winter. 
Cattleya's are easy to grow orchids for the beginner, providing understanding of the seasonal  growth is observed and they reward one with these large beautiful flamboyant blooms year after year.


  1. Enjoyed that, and what a lovely shade that orchid is.

  2. Thank you - Cattleya's always welcome additions to any orchid collections.

  3. Another interesting story, Klara! Every time I read your post and see a beautiful orchid, I want to grow it myself. But I'd rather won't. Heated air is too dry for it. Although, I have a small office that doesn't have heating. It's pretty cool in it in winter and it's not very light (western exposure).

  4. What an interesting flower and beautiful photography of it!

  5. Hi again, i actually posted also this one. Very beautiful cattleya.