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CATTLEYA quadricolor

Image of Cattleya quadricolor

Michael Charters,



Botanical Name

CATTLEYA quadricolor

Plant Common Name

Cattleya, Corsage Orchid, Four-colored Corsage Orchid

Special Notice

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

General Description

With fragrant flowers that never fully expand but resemble waxy white cups, very late winter heralds the white, rose, yellow and violet flowers of Cattleya quadricolor, the four-colored cattleya. This tender perennial orchid grows in the upper reaches of trees on the eastern slopes of the Andes in Colombia. This corsage orchid is epiphytic (growing on another plant) and will form a lush, dense cluster upon a tree branch, wood/wire basket or weighted pot in frost-free gardens.

One oblong, flexible, leathery medium to dark green leaf grows from the tip of each compact pseudobulb. The new growth starts in late summer and matures across the winter. The late winter finds a pseudobulb forming a short stem with only two to four flowers. Each fragrant, wide-petaled bloom looks bell-like or cup-shaped and never fully opens. Primarily white, the lip of the blossoms is rose, violet and yellow. This specialized flower is pollinated by a specifically sized insect that fits inside the lip.

Grow four-colored corsage orchid in partial 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 late summer is ideal; allow the plant to be slightly drier and receive more light in the fall and winter. It is tolerant of moist conditions, more so than others, but drainage is vital. Leaves can scorch in hot afternoon sun, especially with low ambient humidity. Leaves also become overly yellow-green when light is too intense. Lack of sunlight also can prevent flowering.

Use the cut flowers for leis, hair decals, table garnishes or floral arrangements. Consider repotting this orchid only if it is greatly rootbound, and then only after it finishes flowering and root tips begin new growth.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    18"-26" / 45.7cm - 66.0cm

  • Width

    20"-28" / 50.8cm - 71.1cm

  • Native To

    South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Houseplant, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing