Leochilus is a genus that includes about thirty species of epiphytic orchids, widespread in tropical America, from Florida to Central America. They are fairly small in size; the pseudobulbs are oval, fleshy, from each of them sprout 1-2 elongated, arched leaves, 10-12 cm long; towards the end of winter, or in spring, from the pseudobulbs grows a long stem, sometimes branched, which bears numerous small fragrant flowers, usually of greenish-yellow color, with purple spots on the labellum; some species have pink, white or cream flowers. These orchids are not very common in cultivation, although the fairly prolonged flowering and small fragrant flowers make them very decorative.
To obtain the best results in the cultivation of Leochilus orchids it is good to place these plants in a fairly bright place, but not exposed to direct sunlight; these orchids need winter temperatures close to 15-18 ° C, so they should be grown at home or in a temperate greenhouse, taking care, if placed in the house, not to place them too close to heat sources, such as radiators and always guaranteeing them a good brightness to avoid stunted growth and limited flowering.
As for the water supply to the Leochilus orchids, water regularly, placing the pot in immersion for a few minutes, until the substrate is well moist, then let it drain and place in a saucer, possibly filled with fairly moist expanded clay , but not wet. In the warmer months and during the winter it is good to vaporize the leaves with demineralized water to maintain the correct degree of environmental humidity, a determining factor for the vigorous growth of these plants; every 20-30 days add a balanced fertilizer to the water used for watering.
These orchids in nature are epiphytic, ie they grow by resting their roots on other plants, with the roots exposed; therefore they need a substrate consisting of shredded bark, coconut fiber and sphagnum. The pseudobulbs tend to germinate over the years, to give rise to new plants, for this reason it is good to repot the plant every 2-3 years, so that it has the space needed to grow and to replace the substrate that tends to degrade over time , no longer providing a valid support for the roots. Before proceeding with the repotting it is good to wet the substrate and the roots, to make them less fragile and delicate, thus avoiding that they can break.
after flowering it is possible to divide the tufts of pseudobulbs, taking care to maintain one or more well-developed roots for each portion of the tuft practiced; the new plants thus obtained must be immediately repotted individually.
Leochilus: Pests and diseases
Sometimes the cochineal nestles at the base of the leaves. To prevent it from causing damage to the plant it is good to intervene quickly, using a cotton swab with alcohol to pass over the leaves to remove the parasites. Orchids can also present problems of root rot, deriving from an excess of watering or from a substratum that is not sufficiently draining.