Repotting Cattleya amethystoglossa
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:29 PM
Catsnotkids Catsnotkids is offline
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Repotting Cattleya amethystoglossa
Default Repotting Cattleya amethystoglossa

Hello, we have a very large C amethystoglossa which we have had for several years which is growing out of its pot. My husband and I are in disagreement over what to do with it. He wants to grow it into another pot and divide it and I think that's way more complicated than it needs to be. I want to just repot it into a bigger pot but for some reason he thinks the large stalks are too likely to be damaged. Maybe we're both wrong. Please help!
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:40 PM
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Dollythehun Dollythehun is offline
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Love your screen name! Welcome to the OB. Please tell us a bit about yourself.

If that were my Catt, I think I might choose a slightly (or not) bigger pot and just recenter it. I'd put the growing edge toward the center and the old growth toward the pot edge. I might also choose a lower pot or a nice cedar basket. IMHO
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Old 04-16-2018, 05:39 PM
Catsnotkids Catsnotkids is offline
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Repotting Cattleya amethystoglossa

Thanks for the response!

We have a few Catts that we got in Hawaii on our honeymoon about 5 years ago. This one had gotten huge but not bloomed yet - we're pretty sure because of the lighting. We recently moved and I think the climate here will be better for them.

Your thought is basically the same as mine. Repot and recenter it. I don't know why my husband thinks this is a bad idea! He's convinced the big growths will be too heavy to support themselves or something? He is very protective of the orchids.

As for me, we recently moved from Illinois to Texas and are trying to adjust to the very different climate! We have just a few Catts as I said, but hope to add more different varieties in the future. So far only one of the 4 has bloomed but I am hoping that they will do better here in Texas. I'm also exploring growing succulents and agaves outdoors.
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Old 04-16-2018, 05:53 PM
rbarata rbarata is offline
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Welcome, Catsnotkids.

From the photo it seems the plant has not enough bigger pbulbs to be divided, i.e., half of the plant has the right amount of big pbulbs to be divided while the other half also but all of them are small and older than the rest.
It seems the pot is already big enough and if you repot it into a larger pot it may cause some issues related with the difficulty for the medium in the center to dry fast.
If that's the case, the best solution is to put it in a basket.
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Old 04-16-2018, 11:40 PM
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estación seca estación seca is offline
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If I were a counselor, I would probably recall both spouses are usually right, as here. It does require repotting, but not right now. (More on this below.) When you do repot, if you don't stake it very securely, it will wobble. This could damage roots or pseudobulbs. If you're not careful repotting you could break it. But Cattleya pseudobulbs are tough and fibrous, not at all fragile. Roots are much more breakable than pseudobulbs.

You have grown your plant beautifully. But it isn't mature yet. It needs to get even bigger before flowering. Cattleya amethystoglossa can get very big. It might give a few blooms on the next growth, or the one after that, or it might need to get even bigger. It will get bigger and bigger, and in 3-5 more years will be spectacular. Not many people have the patience, space and skill to grow Cattleya amethystoglossa from seedling to flower.

It is time to repot Catts when they walk out of the pot, as yours is doing. But you need to wait until they just begin to make new roots. Your plant will do this soon. Repot when new green root nubs first appear at the base of the newest part of the rhizome, and try to get it done before they are an inch / 2.5cm long.

Older Cattleya roots don't take up water and nutrients as well as young roots. Many Cattleyas only make new roots once a year, and they do so only from the growing part of the plant. If you damage older roots well before new roots form, the plant can be badly set back. So only repot when new root nubs are first visible, and be very careful. Bifoliate Catt species are very picky about this.

This species needs lots of water when in active growth, but also plenty of air at the roots at all times. It is tall and top-heavy. A lot of people select a low, wide dish or basket, combined with very large chunks of bark, or volcanic cinders. This permits frequent summer watering without choking the roots. If you don't have time to water it every day or two, select a pot/medium/chunk size a little more water retentive.

Repotting large plants goes much better with two people. One can support the plant, while the other removes old medium, or adds new medium.

Most people repot so the oldest part of the plant is against one pot edge, with the growing end aiming at the other edge. When potting into standard pots, people recommend a pot adequate for 2 year's growth before the plant reaches the opposite rim. With a shallow container and large chunks that dry out faster, you can leave more room than this for growth. Bark deteriorates more slowly when it dries out faster, so repotting can be stretched from 2 to 3 or 4 years.

When you are ready to repot a bifoliate Catt, first soak the pot in water for an hour or more. Roots will be more flexible, and the plant fully hydrated. Gently ease it out of the pot. You may use a butter knife gently to pry roots off the clay. So long as you don't put rotational torque on the rhizome you won't damage the plant. They are tough.

Then gently shake off old bark. You don't need to be meticulous. Old portions of the root system are not very functional, and you don't want to damage newer roots. Most of the bark will fall off with just a little finger work. I don't cut off old roots. I can't tell which are dead unless they're black and slimy.

Set it in the new container, with the oldest part against one inside rim. Spread the roots out, but don't be too gung-ho. It is better to leave them clumped up, and intact, rather than damage them spreading them out. I would put all the roots your plant has into the new medium, even the ones that grew out of the current pot.

Add new medium all around the roots. Have it firm, but don't pound it down. That could damage roots. Finish with the horizontal rhizome at the surface of the medium, as can be seen in your photos.

Now you must stake it so it doesn't wobble. This takes time and ingenuity. One stake is rarely enough. When the new roots grow into the medium they will stabilize the plant, but for now it needs not to wobble, or new roots may be damaged.

Set the plant into its new space and water well. The newly emerging roots will grow into the medium and your plant will take off.

Be sure to show us photos when it flowers.
It's a dry heat.

Last edited by estación seca; 04-16-2018 at 11:42 PM..
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Old 04-17-2018, 12:18 AM
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Roberta Roberta is offline
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To add to ES's excellent discussion of the potting process, a trick that I use for tall, top-heavy plants like this. Tie the plant firmly to a stake, which you want to get as far down into the pot as you can. Then, use the "guy wire" approach to really stabilize the "rig" - three wires (or plant ties") Assuming a plastic pot, you can burn holes at three equidistant points around the rim, attach one end of each wire to that stake, the other end through one of the holes. Gently tighten them so that the plant is vertical, with equal force in all directions.
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Old 04-17-2018, 12:22 AM
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SaraJean SaraJean is offline
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Wow, well done and welcome! That’s probably the best idea for a honeymoon present that I’ve heard. What other ones do you have? I’m not sure what part of Texas you are in but the sun is probably a bit more intense than what you got up north, so just keep that in mind and watch for signs of burning as it starts to heat up.

And agree with all of the above.. ES, I’m going to copy and paste that into my little file of Catt notes, if you don’t mind. I like to read over stuff like this from time to time and hopefully keep myself from doing anything too stupid
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