Such a genus as Laelia is directly related to the orchid family. It unites 23 plant species. They are represented by perennial epiphytic and lithophytic plants. Under natural conditions, they can be found in the subtropical and temperate regions of the West Indies and South America.
All species are characterized by a sympoidal growth pattern. Young shoots in certain species can develop at the base of the old one, while dense curtains are formed with short creeping ground shoots (rhizomes), while in others – at some distance from it.
The flower itself can have different heights. So, it can be 1-2 centimeters or 30-60 centimeters. Single-leaved or double-leaved pseudobulbs may have an ovoid or elongated cylindrical shape. Young pseudobulbs are glossy, smooth and greenish-gray or green in color, becoming matte and wrinkled as they grow. Hard thick vaginal leaves have an elongated oval or belt-like shape, and they have points at the tip. The leaf blade is slightly folded along the central vein.
This kind of orchid blooms in central Russia in winter-spring, or rather, from December to April. Unbranched apical peduncles have 1 flower or carry few-flowered inflorescences in the form of a brush. Pronounced zygomorphic fragrant flowers have a rather large size (diameter from 15 to 20 centimeters). 2 petals (petals) and 3 sepals (sepals) are free, have a similar color, and also have a belt-like or narrow oval shape. The petals are slightly wider than the sepals, and their edges are slightly wavy. The 3rd petal is called the lip, it can be three-lobed or solid, and also have a fringed or smooth edge. Growing together at the base, it forms a rather long tube, while completely hiding the column (the reproductive organ of the flower).
Laelia care at home
It is quite difficult to care for such a plant, and it needs special conditions of detention. It is most suitable for growing by experienced flower growers.
A pretty light-loving plant that needs very bright light. The direct rays of the morning or evening sun will be very useful for him. However, it is better to shade the Laelia from the scorching midday sunlight. Sunlight can be replaced by the artificial light of equivalent brightness. At any time of the year, daylight hours should have a duration of at least 10 hours.
Due to bright lighting, the pseudobulbs grow correctly, flower buds are laid and, as a result, long flowering.
This flower needs moderately cold temperatures. He needs quite noticeable differences in daily temperatures. So, it is best if in the daytime it will be from 18 to 25 degrees, and at night – from 13 to 19 degrees. It should be noted that the temperature difference between day and night should be at least 5 degrees.
Experienced flower growers recommend moving the plant to fresh air, where it can stay from mid-May to mid-September. In this case, there is a natural difference in daily temperatures, as well as the required degree of illumination. It should be noted that on the street such an orchid can withstand high daytime temperatures (up to 32 degrees).
During the dormant period, the plant should be placed in a bright and fairly cool place with a daytime temperature of about 15 degrees, and a night temperature of 10 degrees.
This period, as a rule, is observed in autumn-winter, but it can also be at other times. The beginning of the dormant period is when a young pseudobulb develops and a leaf unfolds into ½ part and the end after the formation of a peduncle.
Such a flower can be grown on blocks or in pots filled with small pieces of pine bark mixed with sphagnum.
It is better to use a transparent pot, specially designed for orchids. It transmits the light needed by the root system well, and also passes air very well due to larger drainage holes.
As a block, you can use a large piece of pine bark, it must be pre-treated to remove dirt and resin. On the surface of the bar, you need to fix the roots of the flower, while covering them with a not very thick layer of sphagnum. Moss retains moisture, preventing the roots from drying out.
How to water
Watering varies with different growing methods. If the Laelia grows in a pot, then watering is done after the substrate has completely dried. You can determine the condition of the bark in the pot simply by looking through the transparent wall. When grown on a block on hot days, daily watering is required, and on cool days – 1 time in 2 days.
Watering is carried out with water at room temperature, always soft (filtered, rain or melted). To soften, you can use a little citric acid or a drop of vinegar (water should not have a sour taste).
It is recommended to water the orchid by completely immersing it in water for a third of an hour. You can immerse the entire plant along with the foliage.
The optimum air humidity is 75-85 percent. Even very frequent humidification from a sprayer is not able to provide the required level of humidity, so it is recommended to grow a flower in orchidariums with a specially selected climate or use a household air humidifier.
Replant the flower only if necessary. For example, when the substrate rots, turns sour, decomposes or becomes very dense, and also if the roots no longer fit in the pot or the block becomes too small.
It is best to transplant the Laelia during the growth of new roots.
Top dressing is carried out 1 time in 2-3 weeks. To do this, use a special fertilizer for orchids (1/2 of the dose recommended on the package). It is recommended to feed foliar and root methods (alternating them), while fertilizers must be dissolved in water for irrigation or spraying.
It can be propagated in room conditions exclusively by vegetative means. At the same time, it is necessary to divide the rhizomes of a large bush into parts so that each division has at least 3 mature pseudobulbs.
Seed and meristem propagation is used only in industrial conditions.
Pests and diseases
Infected with viral diseases is extremely rare. Most often, due to violations of the rules of care, fungal diseases develop. This can be facilitated by incorrect temperature conditions, incorrect watering, intense or poor lighting, hard or cool water, damage to the root system during transplantation, and so on.
For indoor cultivation, only a few species and many of their hybrids are used.
The homeland of this epiphytic plant is the humid forests of Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala. Single-leaved, oval-shaped pseudobulbs reach a width of 2-3 centimeters, and a height of 6-10 centimeters. Relatively long rhizome. The formation of young stems occurs at a distance of 3 to 5 centimeters from each other. The leaves are 10–20 cm long and about 4 cm wide. The length of the peduncle can be 100 centimeters, while it accommodates up to 5 large flowers (diameter up to 12 centimeters). The lanceolate petals and sepals are slightly curved backwards and have slightly wavy edges. The sepals are 4–6 centimeters long and 1 to 1.5 centimeters wide. The petals are somewhat longer, and their width is 1.5–3 centimeters, and their length is from 5 to 7 centimeters. Large three-lobed lip forming a rather wide funnel, has a size: 4.5 by 3.5 centimeters. The elongated central part of the lip has an oval shape, it is wavy and bent down. As a rule, the flower has this color: lavender petals and sepals and a purple lip. The funnel inside, as well as its open pharynx, are yellowish, and have strokes of a dark purple color.
Laelia Gulda (Laelia gouldiana)
The birthplace of this epiphyte is Mexico, but at the moment it is impossible to meet it under natural conditions. Two-leaved, less often three-leaved pseudobulbs are fusiform and have 4 slightly pronounced faces. In height, they can reach 4-15 centimeters, and in width – 1.5-3 centimeters. The width of the leaves is 3 centimeters, and their length is from 15 to 25 centimeters. Long (height 40–80 centimeters) peduncle bears from 3 to 10 flowers, the diameter of which is approximately 8 centimeters. Narrow lanceolate sepals reach 1-2 centimeters in width and 5 to 6 centimeters in length. Diamond-shaped wide petals with wavy edges are 5–6 centimeters high and 2 to 3 centimeters wide. The length of the three-lobed lip is from 3 to 5 centimeters, and the width is 2–2.5 centimeters. Straight, vertically arranged side parts do not grow together into a tube, at the same time, the deepened rectangular-oval front part is similar to the shoulder blade and has wavy edges. The entire calyx is painted lilac, while the color is darker at the tips of the petals, sepals and lips, and closer to the base it turns into almost white.
Laelia blushing (Laelia rubescens)
This lithophyte or epiphyte can be found in almost any part of Central America. Oval, single-leaved, sometimes double-leafed pseudobulbs are slightly flattened on the sides. Their width is from 1.5 to 4 centimeters, and their height is 4-7 centimeters. The narrowly elliptical, three-centimeter wide leaflets have a rounded tip and a length of 10–15 centimeters. Multi-flowered peduncles in height can reach 15–80 centimeters, and they bear up to 15 medium-sized flowers (3 to 7 centimeters in diameter). The pointed sepals are belt-shaped, reach a length of 2–4.5 centimeters, and a width of 0.5–1 cm. Round-diamond-shaped with wavy edges, the petals are 2.5–4 centimeters long and 1–2 centimeters wide. The triple lip has a width of 1.5–2.5 centimeters and a length of 2 to 4 centimeters. A tube is formed from the side parts, and the free, front part is bent down with its long oval-shaped tongue and with a wavy edge. As a rule, the flower is painted in light purple or light pink, inside the tube, as well as the pharynx are painted in a dark purple hue, and in the central part of the lip there is a yellowish speck.
Laelia magnificent (Laelia speciosa)
This epiphyte is endemic to Mexico. Single-leaved or double-leaved ovoid pseudobulbs reach a height of about 5 centimeters. The width of the leaves is from 2 to 3 centimeters, and their height is 13-15 centimeters. Short peduncles, as a rule, no higher than 20 centimeters. Paired or single flowers are quite large, their diameter is from 10 to 15 centimeters. The sepals are belt-shaped or elongated-oval in shape, and the pointed petals are round-diamond-shaped. Flowers can be painted in various color shades from pink to lilac. There are also representatives with a snow-white color of flowers. The lip is three-lobed. Lateral parts, fused for 2/3 of their length, form a tube with inverted edges. The fan-shaped or spatulate central part is wavy. The tube inside, as well as the lip, are white in color