Mike Armstrong drew heavily on his wonderful collection of photographs of Cattleya species to illustrate his talk whilst giving us an insight into how he grows them, and advice on overcoming some of the problems that the amateur grower faces. One of the key points is to know the conditions in which any particular species grows in the wild, in particular the amount of rainfall and humidity that can be found in native habitats. Many problems could be avoided by buying a plant that suits the conditions that we are able to offer: whether or not we have a heated greenhouse or conservatory, of if the plant has no choice but to survive on the kitchen windowledge.
Cattleyas nearly always live in postiions that benefit from full sunshine for part of the day and so, unlike many tropical orchids that live in deeply shaded forests, these orchids require a sunny place in order to thrive and produce flowers.
Other key points were that he advocates a regular pattern of feeding and believes that, when repotting, Cattleyas benefit from being moved into a larger pot with their root-balls left intact rather than being thinned out.