Sizing: There are different ways of classifying cattleyas, but there are 3 main size categories that the orchid world follows to describe them.
- Standard- These are the large size of cattleyas, where the plant’s pseudobulbs (the strange cane-looking things that the leaves grow from) and plant height (not including the pot) will exceed 12-15 inches tall. There are some of the larger growers that will become 20+ inches tall after they are potted. Also, this term can be used for cattleyas that have their new growths that can be described as “sprawling”- they don’t tend to grow straight up and they will spread out from each other, but can create a really impressive display. This size is usually the producer of the largest blooms of the cattleya genus, but with new hybrids, more and more of the smaller sizes are being bred to have larger blooms as well
- Compact- These are the “mid-size” group of cattleyas. Usually compact cattleyas are in the size range of somewhere just under 12″ up to about 15″ tall at their tallest pseudobulb leaf. Now, this term of “compact” has also been used by growers to describe cattleyas that do not have a spread-out rhizome, which means that the new leads that will be coming up from the rhizome will stay close to the current growths. This compact rhizome feature can be really nice for indoor growers because that means that you can get a lot more flower/growths in a smaller pot size than the standard sized cattleyas- more “bloom for the buck”.
- Miniature- This is the smallest size of cattleyas and they will normally only get a maximum of 6 inches tall or so. Many of the miniatures are likely to bloom more than once a year. This type tends to have very tight rhizomes (lots of pseudobulbs crammed into a small space) and will tend to bloom in less light than what is required for the “Standard” cattleyas. Some vendors describe the mini-catts as some of the best candidates for indoor windowsill culture or under artificial grow lights.
**all of these sizes can also be used to describe the size of the flowers as well- the compacts can still produce blooms in the area of 2-4″ wide (as a general rule) and mini-catts tend to have smaller flowers that are less than or up to 2″ wide.
When looking at cattleyas and the vendor describes a size, I suggest that you clarify what they are referencing- total height at maturity, rhizome sprawling, or flower size (or some combination of those).