Cattleya wittigiana

Cattleya wittigiana is on of our star miniature orchids. 

This lovely species is native the the cool misty cloud forests of the Mata Atlantica in Brazil. The Mata Atlantica is the great coastal rainforest that runs down the Atlantic coast of Brazil and we have both visited this wonderful habitat and seen the floral wonders of the Organ Mountains in Rio State, a days travel from Rio de Janeiro.

Cattleya wittigiana is a tiny plant, with leaves about 4cm long from the top of 3cm pseudobulbs, and the flowers at 6cm across are relatively enormous. 

We grow the species in our Cloud Forest  greehouse with a minimum of 12C although the specxies could cope with temperatures a little lower. We explored Cattleya wittigiana's habitat while leading Writhlington school expeditions in 2000 and 2006 and found that the exposed forest ridges where it grows at around 1200m - 1400m altitude were cool, wet, bright and windy. To replicate these conditions we grow the species high in the greenhouse were it gets good light and plenty of air but we water the plant daily during the summer growing season so that it rarely dries out. The moss you can see growing on our plant's cork mount has grown naturally. 

The winter is  the dry season in the mountains of the Mata Atlantica but in our visits  we found that although rain was infrequent, clouds and heavy dew mean that the forest is dripping every morning. In the greenhouse we water plants every other day in the winter. 

While in Brazil in 2000 we were able to film Cattleya wittigiana being pollinated by humming birds.