Name: Cattleya maxima
Cattleya maxima is a strong and hearty South American orchid that does not require a lot of pampering. Wild specimens can be found in Columbia, Ecuador and the northern parts of Peru.
A mature and healthy Cattleya maxima develops strong stems that can carry 10-20 wonderfully scented flowers. Each flower is 4-5 inches in size and the colours are purple and magenta. The lip is veined in deep purple and the centre has a pale yellow keel. The blooming season for Cattleya maxima is normally summer to fall and the blooming can go on for 4-8 weeks.
Cattleya maxima will appreciate medium to high light. A west window will work most of the year in temperate parts of the world, but during the winter season you should move this orchid to a south window (or north window if you live in the southern hemisphere).
When the potting medium is almost dry, it is time to water your Cattleya maxima. During periods when new growth is formed or when the orchid is flowering, the potting medium should never be allowed to dry out completely. During the winter season it is recommended to let the roots become drier between each watering. If the pseudobulbs become a little shrivelled during the winter it is nothing to worry about. Just make sure you avoid extreme shrivelling. Over watering is much more dangerous for your Cattleya maxima than under watering. The substrate should however be kept a bit more moist during bud and flower development, since the extra moist can make the flowers last longer and be of a higher quality.
The air humidity can be anywhere from 50 to 80% when growing Cattleya maxima orchids. During the winter season it can be allowed to drop even lower.
During the summer, the day temperature should ideally be kept in the 80-95 degrees F range (27-35 degrees C). The nights should be considerably cooler, from 68 to 73 degrees F (20-23 degrees C). During the winter season you can keep the day and night temperatures 10 degrees lower than the summer temperatures.
The Cattleya maxima orchid appreciates a 20-10-20 fertilizer. The recommended dose is ½ teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water (1 gallon equals 3.8 litres). During the winter time it is enough to fertilize every third watering. During the summer you can increase this to every second watering.
It is important to use a well draining potting medium such as a medium grade bark mix for orchids.