Cattleya Seedling Culture
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Old 07-01-2018, 11:22 AM
estación seca's Avatar
estación seca estación seca is offline
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Cattleya Seedling Culture

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Default Cattleya Seedling Culture

Originally Posted by sandbag3
new member. I just bought a very small [Rlc. Glenn Maidment 'Aranbeem' seedling] and was hoping you could give a newbie advice on how to pot with what medium. thanx
Welcome to the Orchid Board, sandbag3!

The original Blc. Glenn Maidment 'Aranbeem' thread in which you asked your question is in the Cattleya forum, here:
Blc. Glenn Maidment 'Aranbeem'

Glenn Maidment is, indeed, a Cattleya hybrid. Blc. is an abbreviation for Brassolaeliocattleya, a human-made hybrid genus with ancestors in genera Brassavola, Cattleya and Laelia. There have been name changes by taxonomists in orchid genera. The Brassavola species in this plant's ancestry is now called Rhyncholaelia digbyana, and the Laelia species in this plant's ancestry is now called Cattleya tenebrosa. So the current name for this plant is Rhyncholaeliocattleya (Rlc.) Glenn Maidment 'Aranbeem'. But you will see it under both names.

Small Cattleya seedlings need different care than mature plants. They generally should not dry out for long. Water them as soon as they get almost dry. Depending on temperature and humidity, they will tolerate being dry for a day or so without damage. When you water, soak all the medium in the pot. Don't just spritz a little water on the plant. Depending on your ambient temperatures and humidity, your plant might dry out in 1-3 days. Don't go by the calendar; go by whether the plant is dry. You can tell when they are dry by comparing the weight of the pot just after you watered it to the weight later on.

Most orchids prefer pure water. In much of the US, tap water is OK for Cattleyas. If you live in the arid West, your tap water might have a lot of dissolved minerals. In this case you can use reverse osmosis (RO), distilled or rain water. Your water utility publishes their annual water quality report online. You can look up the total minerals, or mineral content in parts per million (ppm.) You can cut tap water with distilled, RO or rain to get under maybe 200-300 ppm.

They cannot tolerate as much sun as mature plants. Bright shade is safest for small seedlings. Sometimes a little morning or afternoon sun is OK, but this depends on where you live. You should not risk sunburning your plant even once, because small seedlings often die when this happens. Many people grow them on windowsills behind a sheer curtain, to break the sun. Also, a fan blowing directly on the plant will keep the leaf temperature safe even if it is in a sunny window. People also grow them indoors under artificial lights. There is an entire forum here on Orchid Board dealing with that.

Average home temperatures are fine for them. They would like being a little warmer than most people keep their houses, and outdoors for the summer in most of the USA is fine for them. But take care they don't dry out for too long if it's warm outdoors, and don't let animals eat them.

Average home humidity is also tolerable for Cattleyas, and many commonly grown orchids. There are some that most definitely require higher humidity. Cattleyas would prefer humidity closer to 60%-70%, but 30% is acceptable. 95% humidity in a closed terrarium is not needed for Cattleyas, and promotes fungus growth. I wouldn't get a humidifier for just one orchid seedling, but many people who really get into orchids put a humidifier in their growing area if humidity is low. But average home humidity is acceptable for Cattleyas. Don't mist the plant, despite what you see on YouTube. This doesn't raise humidity. Orchids take up water through their roots, and keeping the leaves wet encourages fungus. Humidity trays do not raise humidity; the amount of water evaporating from them is not enough to make a difference, unless you heat the tray. Trays can prevent water damage to furniture.

It is best not to repot them until they grow out of the pot, or the medium breaks down and becomes mushy. Don't repot Cattleyas unless they just beginning new roots. You have a short window, because the roots quickly grow so long you might break them. Select a pot that will hold 2-4 new growths. Unpot the seedling; gently remove the old medium; set into the new pot, with the back of the plant against a pot rim; and fill with new potting medium. It is fine if some of the roots won't go into the medium. Cattleyas are famous for aerial roots. For Cattleya seedlings many people use fine orchid bark, coconut fiber chips or sphagnum moss. You need to pay attention and water the three kinds of media differently, but the principle is the same: let them get almost dry between waterings.

Don't treat your plant with anything to prevent fungus or bacteria. Unless your plant has an infection or infestation you have identified, don't spray chemicals on it. YouTube has a lot of videos of people spraying their plants with all sorts of things to prevent trouble. This doesn't work, and the chemicals can cause trouble.

Fertilizer is the least important thing for growing orchids. Your seedling will grow with very little feeding. It will grow faster with regular fertilizer. For your seedling you can use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of any 20-20-20 fertilizer, dissolved in pure water (RO, rain or distilled) once every 1-4 waterings. Use non-fertilizer water in between. If you have nice warm temperatures and bright light, your seedling will grow fast, and you will be able to fertilize at every watering. If your conditions aren't as good, don't fertilize as often. Many people here on Orchid Board use a lot less fertilizer than this, with good results. I have heard at least 6 commercial growers say they fertilize their Cattleya seedlings a lot so they grow faster.

Depending on how big your seedling is, and how well you care for it, it should be flowering size in 2-5 years.

Orchid Board has an enormous amount of information. It isn't organized like a classroom course, so it can be hard to dig through it. But there is a Beginner's forum, where a lot of basic questions are answered. There is also a Search feature in the top maroon menu. You could search on terms like "repotting Cattleyas" or "medium for Cattleyas." When you have made 5 posts, you will be able to add photos to your posts. There is a sticky thread about posting photos in About This Forum, accessible from the left yellow menu, Forums.

Good luck! We look forward to seeing photos of your orchid in flower!
It's a dry heat.

Last edited by estación seca; 07-01-2018 at 02:02 PM..
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Old 07-01-2018, 01:29 PM
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Very thorough and much appreciated information. Thank yoy.
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