Laelia

Family: Orchidaceae

Closely related to Cattleya, Encyclia, Sophronitis and other orchid groups, this large, tropical American genus has been widely hybridized. The contribution of Laelia to such hybrids is dazzling colours: yellow, scarlet, red-dish orange and copper.

Species

L. anceps is easy to grow, producing large, showy, upright flowers in rose to purple in late autumn to winter. The erect stems grow to 60 cm (24 in) and the flowers are about 10 cm (4 in) across.

L. autumnalis, from Mexico, likes cool growing conditions as it occurs naturally at quite high altitudes. The stems grow up to 1 m (3 ft) in length, each bearing from five to ten, large, purple flowers in autumn through to winter.

L. cinnabarina, from Brazil, carries sprays of bright orange-red flowers in winter.

L. lundii, a dwarf type from Brazil, grows only 12 cm (5 in) high and thrives in a small pot.

The lilac flowers appear in winter and are usu­ally about 3-4 cm (1-1½ in) across.

L. tene­brosa, also from Brazil, produces large flowers in summer, variable in colour but often copper to yellow, suffused with lavender.

Cultivation

In frost-prone climates, grow in a cool to intermediate greenhouse or conserva­tory. These orchids are mainly epiphytic so can be grown in slatted, wooden orchid baskets filled with compost formulated for epiphytic orchids, and suspended from the greenhouse roof; small species can be mounted on pieces of bark and hung up in the greenhouse. During the summer, shade the plants from direct sun and water normally, feeding with liquid fertil­izer every seven to ten days. Mist spray the plants daily. During the winter, the plants will need maximum light and far less water. Propagate by division when plants become pot bound and need potting on. With some species, leafless pseudobulbs can be removed and potted singly.

Climate

Must be totally frost-free.

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Lachenalia      Lagenaria