As our thoughts start to turn to Christmas the greenhouse is bursting with the stunning scarlet flowers of Cattleya cernua. Of course it isn’t trying to be Christmassy, it is trying to attract hummingbirds – though all it has attracted so far is school students!
This is a Brazilian miniature species, with 4cm long leaves and 3cm bulbs, until recently known as Sophronitis cernua. It is native to South Eastern Brazil where it is found as an epiphyte in warm woodland close to the beach or further inland. We find that it does best when mounted on cork and completely free of moss so that it dries out completely between waterings. We grow plants in Warm Americas (min 15C) in good light where we spray it daily.
The plants shown here were split three to four years ago and they have produced extensive root systems well suited to a dry habitat. The flowers are quite small at 25mm across but a mature plant is covered in flowers and really gives a good display.