(pronounced LAY-lee-ah )
This is deservedly one of the most popular orchid genera. Most are epiphytes from temperate Central America especially Mexico and so are plants that adapt well to our seasons thriving in a cold greenhouse or indoors on a sunny windowsill during the summer then just kept at around 10°C during the winter when the plants normally rest. They produce beautifully formed, brightly coloured blossoms sometimes in sprays. The marvellous species Laelia anceps is virtually frost hardy and should be on the top of any beginners acquisition list as should the vivid magenta flowering and honey-scented Laelia gouldiana which is perhaps the most beautiful of all. Others recommended to those new to orchids include L. autumnalis and L. harpophylla. South American Laelias have been reclassified under the generic name Sophronitis.
It should be noted that there is also a group of rock growing (lithophytic) Laelias which are not for the novice. These come from semi-arid regions and require awkward cultural conditions such as constant high humidity with hot days and cold nights. Their roots quickly rot if wet for any prolonged period.
Cool – Intermediate. Night temperatures approximately 12° to 14° C with a daytime rise of about 10° C.
High (bright indirect).
Plentiful during the summer and reduced or stopped during winter.
Did you know…
The genus Laelia was probably named after one of the Vestal virgins of ancient Rome.