CATTLEYA schroederae makes a good beginner’s plant because of its ease of culture. It will start growing in early spring in most of the United States and, like C. trianaei, will complete a growth by late June.
If you continue to provide good growing conditions (85 F, high humidity, lots of fresh air and sunshine), C. schroederae will normally make a second growth that will be completed by the end of August. The plant will then rest until buds begin to form in the base of the sheath in late December. Because of the short days at this time of year, the buds grow slowly and the flowers will not open until late February or early March. Both the first and second growths will flower at the same time.
When the plant is dormant from September until February, it should be watered sparingly — just enough to keep the pseudobulbs from shriveling. Overwatering the plants while they are dormant can kill the roots and shorten flower life.
Fertilize the plants only when they are actively growing, from March through August. Never fertilize them when they are dormant because this can sometimes lead to a toxic accumulation of salts in the pseudobulbs that can kill the plant. Fertilizer damage is often mistaken for fungal or bacterial rot, which it closely resembles.
Cattleya schroederae is one of the most rewarding of the Cattleya species to grow because it will stay in flower five or six weeks if kept cool (55 F) and dry.
Like all of the Cattleya species, C. schroederae produces the best growths at 85 F with lots of sunshine and moving air. A thorough watering should be given when it is actively growing, but the medium should be allowed to dry out before you water it again. Cattleya schroederae seedlings are usually rapid growers and seem to reach flowering size sooner than most of the other large-flowered Cattleya species. Seedlings grow better with a night temperature of 65 F than with the usual 58 to 60 F prescribed for adult plants.
Reprinted with the permission of the American Orchid Society. “Orchids”, published March 2000. Article authored by A. A. Chadwick.