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CATTLEYA violacea

Image of Cattleya violacea

James H. Schutte



Botanical Name

CATTLEYA violacea

Plant Common Name

Cattleya, Corsage Orchid

Special Notice

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

General Description

One of the most prized corsage orchid species, but finicky in its cultural needs, Cattleya violacea produces fragrant, rose-tinted lavender-violet flowers. An epiphytic (growing on another plant) tender perennial orchid from the northern and western areas of the Amazon Basin in South America, where it grows in trees near rivers and in a climate that is warm and humid for twelve months. It will form a small cluster upon a tree branch, wood basket or wood slab in frost-free gardens. This is an uncommon orchid and one that takes more effort to grow successfully.

Two elliptical stiff, leathery green leaves grow from each pseudobulb. It grows constantly, with new roots usually initiated in the autumn. In the short but warming days of winter into spring, a pseudobulb will form three to five of its fragrant flowers per short stalk. Each long-lived blossom is a rose-violet to lavender-rose with a lip that is deeper red-violet, often with some white or yellow. The specialized flower is pollinated by a certain-sized bee that can enter the lip and exit the flower.

Grow Cattleya violacea in nearly full to partial sun. No soil can be used; it can be grown, with difficulty, in the coarse bark and charcoal of orchid media mix. High humidity, excellent air circulation, and frequent rainfall with year-round warmth is ideal, this species is accustomed to growing constantly. 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 and heat 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 new roots are beginning to elongate. It is, unfortunately, rather difficult to propagate and thus best allowed to continue growing undisturbed on a spacious wood piece.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    11 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    8"-15" / 20.3cm - 38.1cm

  • Width

    10"-16" / 25.4cm - 40.6cm

  • Native To

    South America, Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color Modifier


  • 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