Potting a Typical Cattleya Division

Below I have taken the liberty of showing how I plant my Cattleya divisions.

Remember that I am in a tropical environment and I can use clay pots as my temperatures do not drop below 55 degrees.  If you have low temperatures in your area I suggest you use plastic or wood pots to avoid cold roots!  The roots of orchids do not like to be cold and clay pots absorb cold quickly!
First look at your plant.  Cattleya plants come in many sizes.  Sizes are not defined by BLC,C,LC or Other details provided in its name.  Each crossing produces widely changing sizes of adult plants and flowers.  This is a typical plant we can use for example.

our plant should be ready when you receive it for planting and will look something like the above, although the root bundle can very greatly from just a few roots to many depending on variety and prior growth.

Next is your pot.  I usually use a 5 inch pot, but sometimes larger.  I am told a good rule of thumb is to use a pot size equal to 50% of the bare root length for adult divisions.  This pot is ok, but normally I will have more side holes in my pots to allow for more air circulation so the water will drain quickly and the roots have a good chance to bare out between watering.

Next I find some tie wraps and a strong stick (I am using a strip of bamboo in the picture).  I jam the stick in the pot as shown above and then use the tie wraps to secure the plant to the stick.  Sometimes I use 2 sticks and position them as needed to properly secure the plant.  You do not want the plant to be in the bottom of the pot at this time.  You want the plant suspended in the pot high enough so that most of the root bundle is not touching the pot bottom.

Next I fill the pot to the level of the roots so the plant is sitting securely on top of the medium.  You can us many types of medium, I use non-organic burnt wood (Charcoal from the fire place).  There are a number of pre-packaged orchid mixes available at your local garden center.  You can also use decorative bark used for the yard if you need a large quantity of medium.  You will need to figure out what is best for your area.  The most important item I look for is a medium that will not hold moisture.  I want the water to run out quickly to allow the roots to bare.

Finally I put a layer of Natural Organic Sphagnum Moss on top of the medium.  I prefer Ultra-Gro out of New Zealand myself.  You can use any that is available in your local market.  The layer should not smoother the plant.  It should be no more than 1/2 inch thick as you must allow the plant to breath!

Do you think your roots are dead?  Maybe they are?  Below is a picture of a plant that had its roots die.  This plant was lost in the mail for 3 weeks and came back to me at the greenhouse.  The plant rejected all its roots and formed new roots all while still in the box.  Notice the new growth and new roots created by the plant!

This plant was potted about 2 days after this picture and it flowered for me 2 months later.  It is happy and continues to grow today.

I hope this information is useful for you!  Make sure you check your local area for orchid experts!  Most of the time they are excited to share knowledge with you and can provide you more useful information than we can about your local environment!

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