Common Name: Flor de Navidad or Christmas Flower
Habitat: Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, north coastal Peru. Cattleya maxima grows from 10 to 1500 meters in elevation in seasonally dry coastal forests.
Plant Size: Medium to Large. There are two distinct races of Cattleya maxima: a large lowland race and a medium-sized upland race. Unifoliate. Lowland species grow to 24 inches (60 cm) tall and have more flowers than the shorter upland type.
Flower Size: 5 inches (12.5 cm)
Flower Description: The flower stem of Cattleya maxima grows 12 inches (30 cm) long and has 3 to 15 (sometimes more) sweetly fragrant, long-lived flowers of heavy texture. Lowland plants have pale to medium lavender flowers. Upland plants have more dramatic flowers with spectacular markings on the lip. There are albas, semialbas, pale pink-lavender color forms (particularly in the tall-pseudobulb, lowland types) and the intense dark purple of the short-pseudobulb, upland types. All types have a distinctive yellow stripe down the center of the lip and throat.
Bloom Season: Fall, Winter
Growing Temperature: Cool to Warm
Additional Information: The tall, lowland forms of Cattleya maxima and the shorter upland forms have slightly different cultural requirements. Lowland plants prefer warmer intermediate temperature with a night temperature of 65 F while the upland forms prefer night temperatures in the 50's. Upland forms need more sun than lowland types, but all grow best when the foliate is light green in color. Provide average humidity and good air circulation. Repot when new roots begin to grow from the latest pseudobulb. Grow in clay pots or mount on cork. Pseudobulbs are shorter on mounted plants. Fertilize and provide ample water during active growth during the spring and summer. Provide extra water when flower buds are developing to increase flower longevity.
Synonyms: Cattleya malouana, Epidendrum maximum