Common Name: Lady Ackland's Cattleya
Habitat: Brazil. Cattleya aclandiae is native to the Brazilian state of Bahia. The relatively small habitat of Cattleya aclandiae starts southwest of Salvador and extends northeastward. The greatest concentrations occur on the elevated plateau bordering the drainage valleys of the Paraguacu River. Cattleya aclandiae is found growing in dry areas along the coast between 100 meters and 400 meters in elevation in areas exposed to a sea breeze up to 100 km inland. They are found growing on the upright trunks and branch crotches of trees with rough bark between 10 to 20 feet (3-6 meters) above the ground. There are usually found growing in near permanent bodies of water.
Plant Size: Cattleya aclandiae is a dwarf, 3-5 in. (7-12 cm), rarely 8 in. (20 cm). Small and bifoliate. Pseudobulbs, 2-8 in. (5-20 cm) long are short, cylindrical, and slightly broader near their top than at the base and topped with two thick, fleshy leaves (2-3 in. (5-8 cm) long) with red or black spots or blotches The blotches that sometimes cover the entire leaf surface. This characteristic tends to increase when plants are grown in high light.
Flower Size: 2.5 inches to 4 inches (6 to 10 cm). The flowers of Cattleya aclandiae are large for the size of the plant.
Flower Description: One to (rarely) 3 flowers develop on short stems that develop in the protection of the leaves and emerge from the top of new growths. Each waxy, long-lasting blossom of Cattleya aclandiae is 3 to 4 in. (7-10 cm) across and has a mild, spicy fragrance. Sepals and petals are green or yellowish with variable amounts of dark red-brown, dark purple, or nearly black spotting. When Cattleya aclandiae is grown in very bright light, an additional reddish-brown suffusion may be superimposed. The small, white-edged side-lobes of the lip curl up but do not enclose column. The large, flat mid-lobe of the lip is magenta to deep purple with darker veins. A broad exposed column, which lies with its bottom side very close to the lip, is deep purple or dark magenta. The anther is contrasting yellow.
Bloom Season: Spring, Summer
Growing Temperature: Intermediate,Warm, Hot. In its native environment, summer days average 82-84 F (28-29 C), and nights average 71-72 F (22 C), with a diurnal range of 11-12 F (6-7 C). Winter days in its habitat average 77-79 F (25-26 C), and nights average 64-65 F (17-19 C), with a diurnal range of 9-11 F (5-6 C).
Growing Information: Cattleya aclandiae is a compact member of the Cattleya family and is well-suited for growers who have a limited amount of space to allocate towards their hobby. For best flowering, provide a dry winter rest period. Begin watering heavily when new growth appears. Flowers will develop on the new growth and bloom in the late spring or early summer.
Light: Provide bright light (4000-4500 fc. or 70 percent of full sun), brighter than most species of Cattleya. Plants can be hung up higher, close to the glass, to give them the maximum amount of light possible without damaging the foliage. Provide strong air circulation to help cool the foliage and prevent leaf burn and help plants dry out after watering. Light and growing conditions influence ultimate size of the plant.
Humidity: Provide 80-85 percent humidity for most of the year. Its acceptable for summer humidity to drop into the 75-80 percent range.
Water: Cattleya aclandiae should be watered regularly throughout the year, but they must dry rapidly after watering. Make sure that the plants never stay dry for long periods of time, however. Give mounted plants a daily misting in summer with a thorough soaking of the entire plant and slab twice a week in summer, or three times a week in extremely hot weather (adjust for your climate). Water should be reduced somewhat in winter, but plants should never stay dry for long periods.
Growing Media: Cattleya aclandiae is frequently grown mounted on cork slabs or in baskets, but some growers report success using pots with extremely open fast draining medium such as coarse bark nuggets. Whatever the choice of medium, it is critically important that the roots dry rapidly after watering or root rot is a near certainty. Use very small slabs for mounting this species because larger slabs retain to much water. Tree-fern slabs hold more water and should only be used only in very dry growing conditions. When mounting, do not use sphagnum moss between the mount and the plant because it retains too much moisture and promotes rot. Divide, repot, or remount only when new root growth is just starting. This lets the plant become established in the shortest possible time with the greatest success.
Additional Information: There is a blue form of Cattleya aclandiae available (Cattleya acklandiae var. coerulea). It has a coerulea-colored lip with less contrast on the petals and sepals. Cattleya amethystoglossa hybridizes naturally with Cattleya aclandiae. In hybridizing programs, Cattleya aclandiae has proven very useful in producing compact hybrids with large flowers of good substance. The spotting on the sepals and petals carries through to the offspring when crossed with other bifoliate Cattleyas, but it disappears if crossed with Sophronitis coccinea, Laelia milleri, or Cattleya aurantiaca. The offspring generally bloom several times a year producing long-lasting flowers that have rich color and heavy substance.
The first person to successfully grow and flower Cattleya aclandiae was Sir Thomas Ackland in 1840. The plant is named in honor of his wife, Lady Ackland.
Synonyms: Cattleya acklandiae, Cattleya aclandiae, Cattleya aucklandiae, Cattleya auclandii, Epidendrum acklandiae, Epidendrum aclandiae.