Cattleya People-Please Help

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Mar 1, 2023
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I am struggling to figure out exactly what is happened with this cattleya. I noticed the purplish tinge on the pseudo bulb about a week or so ago. I’ve been looking up everything I can find and I just can’t tell if it’s fusarium or an over abundance of sun-or something else altogether. I only have a few cattleyas, so my personal experience is isn’t very helpful.
This particular plant has actually done very well for me this summer and I was beginning to pay myself on the back till I noticed this.
I have it isolated from my other orchids, but I am nervous that if it is fusarium I should be doing something preventative to the rest of the collection. It wasn’t in physical contact with any other orchid.
Does anyone know what this is?
Thanks very much.


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While waiting for the real cattleya folks to chime in.... have you moves it into a situation with brighter light? I get a similar color on my catts when I increase the light levels.

I truly doubt it is fusarium which would come from the base of the plant and cause withering.
Yes, I did move it to a brighter position a while back. I don’t think it had been getting enough light before. I’d gotten some new shelving and was able to place it in a better position. Maybe that’s the reason I haven’t seen this before. Like I said, otherwise it has seemed quite happy and put on lots of new growth. In fact all of the cattleyas have been much happier this summer with their new arrangement.
Thank you very much for your response. I am already feeling better! I like this plant and want it to be okay but my real fear is the possibility of letting something terrible
loose on my paphs.
I think Dj is on the right track. There is a root rot that effects Cattleyas that moves up from the roots to the rhyzome. But the damage is far more severe and seems blackish purple. By cutting into the rhyzome, a purple ring reveals the disease’s presence.
Black rot is another disease that spreads incredibly quickly often killing the plant in 48 hours. In seedlings it is nearly 100% lethal.

For me personally I never would grow in Sphagnum moss as a medium. Cattleyas for me thrive in a “wet-dry” cycle. Water them well, let them dry out and then water again. I do not keep them “evenly moist”.
With colored Cattleyas reds, pinks, and purples, they produce a great deal of anthocyanin pigments which in turn produce the color within the flowers.
Too much sun produces a burgundy coloring within the entire plant. Looks like sunburn in a human.
Too much heat may be part of you problem. I see you are in Virginia. Cattleyas do not mind temperatures above 85 degrees once in a while, Not For Days on end.
Thank you so much! Yes, we have had horrendous temperatures this August. The sphagnum is actually just a top dressing because everything has been drying so fast in this heat. But it’s probably time to remove that now that Ophelia has finally brought autumn.
I’ve had fans on constantly and have even brought everyone inside during the worst temperatures. It’s felt more like running a daycare this summer than gardening 😅
Although I really don’t mind because I truly enjoy looking after them.
Again, thank you so much! No matter how much I read and research, nothing beats the experience of an expert. This really is an amazing forum and I’m so happy to be here.
BTW that cattleya looks like it may have started a little sheath. Maybe I’ll get to come back before long and show off a pretty bloom 😃
Thank you!
Looks like a bit of anthocyanin developed on the new growth due to higher light and you need to avoid heat built up on the leaves so you will need extra air circulation. Are you growing the Cattleya under LED?
Thank you! We have definitely been dealing with ridiculous heat this summer in Virginia. Now we’ve suddenly dropped into the 60s after Ophelia blew through. I’ve isolated the plant away from the others and with less sunny position-trying to to deal with whichever problem was occurring. I am very relieved that the consensus seems to be heat/ sun and not the dreaded fusarium.
I am not actually using LEDs right now. I’ve been growing on windowsills and everything goes out on my covered deck for their summer holidays. However, I’ve run out of windowsill space and bought shelves and lights for when they move back inside. My daughter moved to an apartment so I’m preparing her room as their new home. It’s going to be a new adventure dealing with lights-although there are a couple of huge windows in her room and it has a very sunny eastern exposure.
It is good to know that I need to be more mindful of heat buildup with cattleyas. I’ve been far more fussy over the paphs and tended to just think the cattleyas love heat and light so long as it isn’t enough to sunburn the leaves.
I really appreciate your advise!
I think the consensus about high light is very possible, however, I'd definitely get an Agdia test and check for virus. The pattern of the coloration worries me a bit. Glad to hear your sphagnum is just a top dressing. That and plastic pots are horrendous for catts.
Re your daughter's room. A very bright Eastern Exposure will not be enough light (in my experience) to bloom cattleyas. So give them supplemental light. The paphs will probably love it, though if close enough to the windows.
And the best source I know of for identifying problems (other than this forum) is the At. Augustine Orchid Society’s website. They have numerous articles on every subject and wonderful pictures there. Sue Bottom of SAOS published an article in Orchids magazine a while back after Davis Off of Waldor visited her. Dave walked around and by sight pulled plants he suspected of virus. Simply by leaf markings, some somewhat subtle. She tested and everyone he pulled aside was indeed virused. Waldor was the first, back in the cut flower days of orchids, to identify virus and they are quite good about testing their stock and standing behind their plants, if notified upon receipt. But, they are also quite expert at recognizing the signs. Here are a couple of photos of leaf markings that were indicative of viruses on my plants. IMG_2270.jpegIMG_1343.jpegIMG_1340.jpeg
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40 years ago I figured that there was no way I could ever give a unifoliate Cattleya too much light. Impossible!!
Then came SW Florida in April of 2009. 6 months later I saw my 3 dozen Catts all turning burgundy. The bulbs and leaves looked like a group of sunburned tourists!! 🤪
Too much light is what I figured. I hung 50% shade cloth in my lanai and the Cattleyas returned to normal. I wished I had saved some images! It was shocking to see.

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