Cattleya Alliance

The Cattleya Alliance is a large group of Neotropical orchids found from Florida, south to Argentina that includes many genera, the most familiar of which are Brassavola, Encyclia, Epidendrum, Laelia, Rhyncholaelia, Sophronitis, and of course, Cattleya. The Cattleya holds a special place in the popular imagination of Americans and Europeans. The frilly lips, grand proportions, vibrant colors and exquisite fragrances became synonymous with what most people imagined when they heard the word, “orchid.” For 200 years the Cattleya has been the “Queen of the Orchids,” first as the undisputed darlings of the Victorian era, then as they reached their zenith of commercial importance in the early to mid-20th century when the cut flower industry produced them en masse for arrangements and corsages. Brassavola, Encyclia, Epidendrum, Laelia, Rhyncholaelia, Sophronitis, are also showy, captivating genera. There is a colorful multitude of hybrids of the Cattleya Alliance, from tall Epidendrum hybrids to the diminutive “Minicatts,” often derived from Sophronitis and smaller Brazilian Cattleyas. Most of the species and hybrids of the Cattleya Alliance prefer bright light, temperatures on the warm or even hot side, and prefer to become dry between waterings.