The genus Laelia includes about 50-60 species of orchids, mainly epiphytes, originating in Central America, very similar to cattleya. These varieties form dense clumps of flat and elongated pseudobulbs, at the top of which sprout long fleshy leaves; in spring from the base of the leaves grows a stem, long up to 50-60 cm, which brings numerous flowers of varied color, depending on the species, from yellow, to red to violet. The tepals are straight and long and the labellum is often of contrasting color, slightly closed like a tube at the base.
Orchids of this type may present different sizes and shapes, passing from very large specimens, such as L. Purpurata, to small plants, such as the Laelia Liliputana, which does not exceed 5 cm.
These plants tend to develop horizontally and present an annual production of new rhizomes.
These orchids need to be grown in a very bright area, but away from the sun's rays; they fear the cold and even in winter the temperature must remain around 15 ° C. While the summer temperature should not exceed 30 ° C.
Laelia, in nature, are plants that grow on rocky or particular surfaces, therefore they require a good air exchange. Above all this genus of orchids needs a lot of light in order to grow and flourish, so it is essential to arrange them in environments where they can receive a lot of light, but always taking care that they do not receive direct sunlight.
Obviously it is essential to know the exact variety to know what the particular cultivation needs are, given that they also have very different characteristics.
Since the laelia are all epiphytes, they need a substrate consisting of incoherent material, such as bark, sphagnum or osmunda fiber; use the compound for orchids that is easily found on the market. Remember that this substrate degrades over time, so it must be replaced annually, to provide the plant with a fertile base on which to grow. Attention to the repotting operation that must be practiced with caution to avoid ruining the roots which are rather thin and delicate. To facilitate the operation it is good to wet the Laelia roots before proceeding, then taking care to remove all the old substrate. Always choose a vase that is slightly larger, as the substrate must be able to dry quickly.Multiplication
At the end of winter, as soon as the plants begin to vegetate, the tufts of pseudobulbs can be divided, taking care to maintain some vigorous roots for each portion practiced; immediately repot the new plants into individual containers, using the substrate indicated for the cultivation of orchids.
Laelia: Pests and diseases
These orchids are easily attacked by scale insects, which ruin the leaves and flowers. If their presence is limited it is good to intervene manually to eliminate them with the use of rubbing alcohol on the leaves.
These plants can also present pathologies related to unsuitable environmental conditions or an excess of watering that can lead to radical rot.