Cattleya schilleriana – 365 days of orchids – day 1592
This very distinct and dramatic cattleya species is cattleya schilleriana. The species has possibly the most restricted natural range of any of the bi-foliate cattleyas (two leaves on each pseudobulb) as it has only been found in the Rio Jucu district of Espirito Santo, and sadly is reported as probably extinct in the wild by several internet sources. Let’s hope that plants do survive in the wild, and that the conservation action plans of our conservation friends in Brazil are successful for this wonderful orchid.
Looking back in time with the aid of my library, and in particular, The Brazilian Bifoliate Cattleyas and Their Color Varieties, 1977, J. A. Fowlie describes finding Cattleya Schiileriana in a very specific habitat, as an epiphyte on cliffs above rivers and surrounded by waterfalls, in a valley system that experience warm summers, cool winters and heavy rainfall especially in the spring (October and November), except for a dry period from January to March (late summer), but even in the dry period the area where Cattelya Schilleriana is found receives very heavy dew and humidity from the rivers.
This climatic habitat is reflected in the plants growth which is rapid during the Autumn and early spring, with flowers soon after growths mature, and then a summer rest. We in common with other growers find that the species enjoys regular watering, and free drainage (we are growing this seedling in a small basket). The During its summer ‘rest’ we keep watering the plants to avoid any shrivelling of the pseudobulbs but hang plants a little higher so that they are brighter and dryer.
The plants are compact compared to many bi-foliate cattleyas with pseudobulbs up to 15cm long and the flowers are really large for the plants at 10cm across. The lip is really extraordinary, flowers are sweetly fragrant too.