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CATTLEYA percivaliana

Image of Cattleya percivaliana

Michael Charters, www.calflora.net

Family

Orchidaceae

Botanical Name

CATTLEYA percivaliana

Plant Common Name

Cattleya, Christmas Cattleya, Corsage Orchid

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Distinguished by the spice-musky fragrance of its pink-lavender and magenta ruffled blossoms, Cattleya percivaliana is a winter-blooming corsage orchid that is often referred to as the Christmas cattleya. An epiphytic (growing on another plant) or lithophytic (growing on a moist rock) tender perennial from the mountains of Venezuela, it will form a lush, heavy clump in frost-free gardens.

An oblong, stiff, leathery green leaf grows from each stout pseudobulb in the plant cluster. In the shortened and dry days of winter, the plant displays its musky-scented flowers on fleshy stalks just above the leaves. Some find the smell lovely, others somewhat strange, but all recall its unique fragrance. Each blossom is pinkish lavender with ruffled edges with a ruffled magenta lip and white column. The throat also has a rich orange color. The specialized flower is pollinated by a certain-sized bee or beetle that can enter the lip and exit the flower.

Grow Christmas cattleya in full sun to very bright partial shade. No soil can be used; rather the plant can be supported in a coarse bark or charcoal media that allows water to freely drain. High humidity, excellent air circulation and frequent rainfall in the warmth of spring through fall is ideal. Allow the plant to become markedly drier and receive more sunlight in wintertime. Leaves can scorch in hot afternoon sun at sea level, they also become overly yellow-green when light and reflective heat is too intense. Lack of sunlight also can prevent flowering.

This is a specimen plant for a warm sunroom or greenhouse in cold climates, or as a clumping accent on a tropical palm trunk, wedged between boulders or in a basket for the patio. Use the cut flowers for leis, hair decals, table garnishes or floral arrangements. Consider up-potting (sliding the rootbound pot into a slightly larger container) this orchid only if it is greatly rootbound and not disturbing the roots.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Bloom Time

    Early Winter, Winter

  • Native To

    South America

Growing Conditions

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Houseplant, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No