The Cattleya is an excellent plant for the beginner. These plants can withstand many of the initial mistakes made by the novice grower and the flowers are a delight, lasting from 2 to 3 weeks.
Temperature – Cattleyas can withstand hot weather if adequate ventilation and humidity are provided. They do best when the temperature is between 65°F and 75°F in the day and between 58°F. to 62°F. at night. The temperature differential is especially important.
Humidity and Ventilation – A minimum humidity of 50% is generally considered a necessity. However it does not need to be constant. In the home, morning mistings and or humidity trays (remember not to sit the pot directly on the gravel) are usually enough. Air movement is essential at all times, but especially critical when the humidity is very high. In the home, natural air movement is usually enough, but in enclosures and greenhouses, fans are recommended.
Light – They need an abundance of light, but not direct sun. A lightly shaded South window is best. East or West facing windows are satisfactory if bright (avoid direct sun except at the beginning or end of the day)
Watering and Feeding – Always water orchids in the morning so that the leaves are dry before night. How often to water depends on the potting media used, the type of pot (plastic or clay), and the size of the pot. Large Cattleyas in bark need watering about once a week, a rule of thumb to use on individual pots is to feel the pot, if it is light-water. They like to be watered well, drained well and like to be almost dry before being watered again. Feed plants potted in bark with Peters 30-10-10 twice a month in the growing season, about once a month in late Fall through early Spring, alternating with at least two good waterings to leach salts.
Pests – Slugs and snails can be controlled with products containing Metaldehyde such as Deadline. Diatomaceous Earth is also quite effective against slugs and Beer in a shallow bowl is a good trap for them. For mealy bugs, scales and other pests use insecticides like Malathion or X-clude. Remember that these products are intended to kill and should be used in the open air outside your home. A light horticultural oil, like Year Round, (not a dormant oil) which smothers bugs and their eggs is very effective against most pests and fairly safe. Insecticidal Soap is also effective against these insects and reasonably safe, but it has less residual action. Use any of these products with caution and in accordance with the manufacturers label.With any of these types of products some insects, and especially their eggs, will survive to breed again. One dose of even a systemic insecticide will not wipe out a large population of insects totally and completely. In the home, vigilance is often the best defense against pests. If you get them early, before they start laying eggs, they can be eliminated relatively easily.