Laelia orchids

Laelia orchids

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The Laelia Orchid plant

The Laelia Orchid is a wonderful genus of orchids that finds its botanical origin in the rainforests of Central and South America; in particular, its area of ​​expertise extends from Mexico to Argentina, with the largest concentrations found in Brazil and Mexico itself. It is one of the epiphytic orchids, that is, with aerial roots or even on inert bases such as stone; moreover it has a sympoidal development, ie it grows more horizontally extending than vertically. Laelia has various pseudobulbs, different in shape and size depending on the species; the flowers are generally beautiful, vaguely star-shaped and with warm and lively colors (orange, red and the like). The size of a flower can vary very much between the various species, ranging from 3 centimeters to even 50 centimeters; however, their arrangement sees them gathered in bunches at the apex of flower stems that can be numerous for each flowering season. The leaves of the Laelia are well placed, that is, quite small but compact and of a certain chromatic vivacity that makes them blend very well with the flowers.

Environment and exposure

Laelia, also due to its physical characteristics, is an orchid quite different from other orchids; in a nutshell it is not the classic orchid that must live sheltered from direct sunlight, in dim light, but it loves the full sun and its small and turgid leaves are a precious indication. In practice, Laelia grows most of the time on rocks, or in open places; to all this we can associate two main characteristics: a great lighting even direct (between 30,000 and 45,000 lx) and excellent ventilation, with constant air exchange for both the leaves and the roots (which we remember are aerial). The temperature that Laelia loves is very high, between 20 and 30 degrees centigrade; it does not allow sudden and decisive drops downwards because this never happens in its home environment.


Laelia is an exclusively epiphytic plant, it does not live on the ground but on surfaces such as rocks that must have the only characteristic of presenting some moss and some lichen.

Planting and repotting

Since the Laelia is an epiphytic orchid, we don't need a vase to arrange it; its ideal arrangement is on a piece of trunk, on a branch or even on a piece of worked cork, with a very original scenic effect. When we want to move it (this is the only possible repotting) it is good to do it very carefully, first wetting the plant and the entire surface on which it is placed in order to soften the grip of the roots and detach them easily without damaging them. If this happens, it is good to make sure to leave the plant for about a week without watering to heal the wounds and avoid infusing bacteria or parasites through the water.


Each plant of laelia it has its own particular flowering period, and it is in this period that the waterings can reach up to two a day in order to give the plant all the strength it needs. One thing that is really important is that the surface on which the plant is placed must be such as to dry easily and very quickly, both after watering and in all water-related events. In the non-flowering season, even a few waterings per week are enough, since the plant resists well to a few days of dryness.


The Laelia orchid must be fertilized with a certain regularity during the period of growth and flowering; this means that the fertilizer (generic and water-soluble) must be administered approximately every two weeks and together with the second part of the watering, since it is better to fertilize with slightly moist soil previously.

Orchid roots

Having said that Laelia is an exclusively epiphytic orchid, the relevant peculiarities of the roots of this plant are finished; in fact, this genus of orchids is particular for the flowers and leaves, but not for the roots which are still very active and only a little delicate in the repotting phase (the aforementioned movement).

Orchids laelia: Reproduction of orchids

There laelia it is an orchid that is rarely reproduced, as first of all it is not very widespread in our latitudes, and then it has a rather affordable price driven by an abundance and an ease of growth that are not common. So often people prefer to buy another copy rather than buy it. However, if desired, the reproduction technique that is adopted is that of dividing the plant. Attention must be paid to some particularities; first of all this operation is to be carried out when the plant is moved (let's say repotting). Another thing is that for the division clean and sanitized elements must be used one hundred percent because each cut can cause the invasion of a parasite, let alone a clear division (for this reason the new specimen is then left for a week without watering to allow it to heal first. the wound of division).

Mostly epiphyte herbs (with a few lithophytes) with laterally compressed pseudobulbs. [2] [4] One to four leathery or fleshy leaves are born near the top of each pseudobulb, and can be broadly ovate to oblong. [4] The inflorescence is a terminal raceme (rarely a panicle). [2] [4] The flowers have 8 pollinia petals are of a thinner texture than the sepals sepals and petals are of similar shape, but the sepals being narrower the lip or labellum is free from the arched flower column. [2] [4]

Species of Laelia can be found from western Mexico south to Bolivia, from sea level to mountain forests. [2] [5]

The genus Laelia was described as part of subfamily Epidendroideae by John Lindley. [6] Brazilian Laelias, after being classified for several years under Sophronitis, [7] have now been placed in the genus Cattleya. [8] Moreover, species formerly placed in the genus Schomburgkia have been moved either to the genus Laelia or Myrmecophila. [9]

Species Edit

Laelia comprises the following species: [1]

Image Name Distribution Elevation (m)
Laelia albida Bateman ex Lindl. 1839 Mexico 1,000–2,000 meters (3,300–6,600 ft)
Laelia anceps Lindl. 1835 Mexico and Honduras 500–1,500 meters (1,600–4,900 ft)
Laelia aurea A.Navarro 1990 Mexico (Durango, Sinaloa and Nayarit) 200 meters (660 ft)
Laelia autumnalis (Lex.) Lindl. 1831 Mexico 1,500–2,600 meters (4,900–8,500 ft)
Colombian Laelia J.M.H.Shaw 2008 Colombia and Venezuela
Laelia elata (Schltr.) J.M.H.Shaw 2009 Colombia
Laelia eyermaniana Rchb.f. 1888 Mexico (Nayarit, Michoacán, and Jalisco, Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, and Querétaro. Halbinger) 1,600–2,600 meters (5,200–8,500 ft)
Laelia furfuracea Lindl. 1839 Mexico (Oxaca) 2,100–3,000 meters (6,900–9,800 ft)
Glorious Laelia (Rchb.f.) L.O.Williams 1860 Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and northern Brazil 200–850 meters (660–2,790 ft)
Laelia gouldiana Rchb.f. 1888 Mexico Hidalgo 1,550 meters (5,090 ft)
Laelia × halbingeriana Salazar & Soto Arenas Oaxaca, Mexico 1,160 meters (3,810 ft)
Laelia heidii (Carnivals) Van den Berg & M.W.Chase 2004 Colombia and Venezuela
Laelia lueddemannii (Prill.) L.O. Williams 1940 Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela 0–600 meters (0–1,969 ft)
Laelia lyonsii (Lindl.) L.O.Williams 1941 Cuba and Jamaica 0–800 meters (0–2,625 ft)
Laelia marginata (Lindl.) L.O.Williams 1941 Colombia, Venezuela, French Guyana, Guyana, Suriname and Northern Brazil
Laelia mottae Archila, Chiron, Szlach. & Pérez-García 2014 Guatemala 400 meters (1,300 ft)
Laelia moyobambae (Schltr.) C. Schweinf. 1944 Bolivia and Peru
Laelia rosea (Linden ex Lindl.) C. Schweinf. 1967 Colombia, Venezuela and Guyana
Laelia rubescens Lindl. 1840 Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua 0–1,700 meters (0–5,577 ft)
Laelia schultzei (Schltr.) J.M.H.Shaw 2008 Colombia
Laelia speciosa (Kunth) Schltr. 1914 Mexico 1,400–2,400 meters (4,600–7,900 ft)
Splendid Laelia (Schltr.) L.O.Williams 1941 Colombia and Ecuador 600–1,500 meters (2,000–4,900 ft)
Laelia superbiens Lindl. 1840 Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua 800–2,000 meters (2,600–6,600 ft)
Laelia undulata (Lindl.) L.O.Williams 1941 Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Trinidad, Venezuela 600-1,200 meters (2,000-3,900 ft)
Laelia weberbaueriana (Kraenzl.) C. Schweinf. 1944 Peru and Bolivia 200-1,300 meters (660-4,270 ft)

Species in this genus are found in forests from sea level to mountain habitats above 2000 m. [2] Species from above 2000 m of elevation like L. albida, and L. autumnalis are adapted to temperate climates and can be grown outdoors in places like the Mexican Plateau, California and other subtropical areas with cool summers. [2]

Laelia is one of the orchid generate known to use crassulacean acid metabolism photosynthesis, [ citation needed ] which reduces evapotranspiration during daylight because carbon dioxide is collected at night.

Laelias can be grown fastened to tree trunks, as long as the tree won't cast a deep shadow they can also be fastened to a piece of branch or a slab of cork so they can be hung in a place facing south. [2] The growing medium must have good drainage, rapidly drying after watering pieces of pine bark, charcoal or pebbles are good choices. [2] If grown mounted they definitely need approximately 50–70% humidity, while cooler temperatures increase the blooming process. [10] Watering can be done 2–3 times a week, but with lower frequency in winter. [2] Fertilization can be done with a very dilute solution, twice a month especially during growing season (May to November in Northern Hemisphere). [2]

Nothogenera Edit

Hybrids of Laelia with other orchid genera are placed in the following nothogenera (this list is incomplete):

  • Laeliocattleya (Lc.) = Cattleya × Laelia
  • Laeliocatonia (Lctna.) = Broughtonia × Cattleya × Laelia
  • Laeliocatarthron (Lcr.) = Cattleya × Caularthron × Laelia
  • Sophrolaelia (Sl.) = Laelia × Sophronitis

Rhyncholaelia is a distinct genus rather than a nothogenus.

Laelias culture conditions


Laelia needs a very draining growing medium, like pine bark. These orchids are well adapted to trash culture (a bit like the Vandas) because they can't stand having their roots constantly wet.

Some Laelia species, lithophytes (or rupicolous), grow on rocks in their natural environment: they offer them an inorganic cultural support (stone).


Very bright, with no direct sun: place your laelia behind a window and plan a fog in the summer in case of south or west exposure.


Repot laelia every two years, in a pot with a slightly larger diameter than the previous one (about 2 cm more). Place the plant slightly off-center so that new growth can grow.

Read also: repotting an orchid

Laelia maintenance: irrigation and fertilizer

Vegetation period

In the growing season, usually in summer, water your laelia copiously once every 8-10 days with non-calcareous water moisten the substrate well and let it drain, taking care not to leave water in the saucer or flowerpot (after watering, the substrate must be able to dry quickly). It is also possible to spray the aerial roots and the substrate between two waterings, with non-calcareous water.

During this time, bring somespecial orchids for liquid fertilizers after each irrigation (only once the wet substrate), the fertilizer is diluted in water, respecting the recommended dosages.

Rest period

When the plant begins to rest, usually between fall and early spring, watering slowly and stop them almost completely in winter, as well as fertilization. Place your laelia in a very cool (5 to 15 ° C depending on the species) but still bright room.

Read: Maintenance of epiphytic plants

Orchid Images: Cymbidium

Cymbidium are a wide ranging Asian genus, with some species thriving in areas that receive snow while others grow in hot, lowland jungles. Central California is an ideal growing area for the cooler growing species. Most of our Cymbidium live outside year-round with the Australian Dendrobium, with a few warmer growers heading to the cool growing area when nights drop below 40F (4C).

We focus on species, and hybrids of those species, which grow best in our area: Cymbidium tracyanum, Cymbidium devonianum, Cymbidium madidum, and Cymbidium canaliculatum. This diversity translates into ongoing opportunities for orchid photography of Cymbidium during most months of the year. One of our favorite Cymbidium floral qualities is lots of spots… amongst the species photographs, you will see our favorite speckled hybrids.

General description of the genus

Much like cattleyas, laelias resemble them. They are nice orchids with pseudobulbs. These pseudobulbs are thick and elongated. In an upright position, they grow from a rhizome that elongates and sometimes branches, and are crowned with 1 to 3 thick, persistent and hard leaves.

Each year, the new canes produced are the ones that will bloom. They develop a floral spike at the top of the pseudobulb, often initially protected by a thin, clear spathocyte. The stems have from 1 to 12 flowers, depending on the species, which are colorful and sometimes fragrant. The old canes persist, serving as a reserve for the plant. The roots are quite thick, covered with a white veil that absorbs moisture.

Laelia is grown all over the world in temperate greenhouses, but also at home, all year round or with a small outing in the summer, in the shade of the trees. The cultivation of laelia is similar to that of cattleyas.

In the case of botanical species, the cultivation temperatures indicated depend on the geographical origin of the plant:

  • The Laelia of warm climates requires a daytime temperature between 18 ° and 35 ° C, at night between 15 ° C and 30 ° C.
  • Laelia temperate climate: during the day, from 18 ° C to 26 ° C and at night, from 13 to 16 ° C
  • Laelia temperate cold: during the day from 12 ° C to 26 ° C and at night from 5 ° to 16 ° C

All hybrids are more flexible in terms of temperature requirements. The exposure must be bright, with hazy sun or light shade in summer, and some direct sun in winter. The atmospheric humidity is between 50 and 70%: Laelia likes the fog of rainwater.

The growing medium is draining and aerated: a mixture of bark, clay trunks and charcoal. The commercially available mixture retains too much moisture. Replanting is done every 2 or 4 years at the beginning of growth. Throughout the growing season, watering, always with fresh water, is abundant or is done standing for an hour in a pot. The Laelia substrate must never dry out completely between one watering and the next. Once a month, irrigation with fresh water is followed by half a dose of fertilizer.

Once the canes have grown, the Laelia is left to rest, cool and slightly drier: the substrate dries out almost completely between one watering and the next, the Laelia is watered if the canes curl up.

Video: Practical guide to growing Cattleya Orchids - What culture sheets dont tell you