The genus of Broughtonia orchids, originating in the Canaries and the Bahamas, includes about twenty species, epiphytes, of which numerous hybrids have been produced. The plants are generally small in size, the flattened pseudobulbs produce oval, elongated, slightly fleshy, light green leaves, which develop alternately along a cylindrical stem; in spring a long spiked ear develops from the stem, on which some large flowers bloom. The broughtonies bloom in shades of pink, lilac and yellow; there are numerous brightly colored hybrids, from white to deep purple. The flower is very showy, with elongated petals and a very wide lip, in the same color as the petals.
The Broughtonia prefer luminous positions, but not directly exposed to the sun's rays because, especially on the hottest days, they can cause burns to the leaf apparatus.
They can withstand temperatures close to 10-12 ° C, but the ideal temperature for cultivation is close to 15-18 ° C, so they are plants to grow at home or in a temperate greenhouse. It is possible to place them outdoors during the summer season, but taking care to place the Broughtonia orchids in a space sheltered from direct radiation.
From March to October water the Broughtonia regularly, leaving the soil to dry well between one watering and another; in the remaining months water sporadically. In the period of greater vegetative development, provide fertilizer every 15-20 days, using a specific fertilizer for orchids. It is essential to guarantee the right degree of humidity to the plant, without exceeding the water supply, as orchids of this type do not tolerate water stagnation. These plants are epiphytes, which means that in nature they grow with aerial roots resting on other plants, therefore, it is important to provide the right amount of water to the roots without exaggerating.
These orchids, being epiphytes, need a light and incoherent soil that acts as a support for the aerial roots; pieces of bark, coconut fiber, polystyrene and sphagnum are used. Given the relative water needs, the broughtonia grow best even when mounted on portions of bark. For a balanced development it is advisable to repot the plants every 2-3 years, to replace the substrate which, over time, tends to degrade and to give the plants more adequate support.
The reproduction of these orchids occurs by division of the tufts, at the end of winter or after flowering; the new plants thus obtained are placed directly in a single container, using the same substrate recommended for adult plants. It is good to keep new plants in a sheltered and protected place where there are no dangerous climatic changes.
Broughtonia: Parasites and Diseases
They fear the attack of cochineal and aphids, if possible it is good to avoid the use of insecticides, removing the insects manually, using a cloth or a cotton ball with alcohol to pass on the affected leaves.
It is also important to check the degree of humidity, to avoid that an excess of water can lead to the onset of dangerous radical rot.