How to grow and care for Brassavola Orchids Indoors

Indoor Orchid, Brassavola Orchid

Botanical name: Brassavola spp
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Epidendreae
Subtribe: Laeliinae

Brassavola Orchids are easy to grow Indoor Orchids with a very fragrant with a citrusy smell. But they are only fragrant at night and last a few days only. The flowers are small and comprise of three sepals and two lateral petals which are greenish, narrow and long. These Orchids bloom the year-round; several times in a year. The leaves are long, thin, tubular about 1 ft long and may sometimes appear unrolled or flattened. The leaves are mottled with slight reddish marks. These orchids have much smaller pseudobulbs, so the leaves appear to emerge from the rhizomes. Brassavola is a genus of orchids widespread across Mexico, Central America, West Indies and South America. The Orchids are epiphytes; where they grow on the bark of trees and derive moisture and nutrients from the air, rain or debris accumulating around them. Brassavola genus was named in 1813 by the Scottish botanist Robert Brown after the Italian nobleman and physician Antonio Musa Brassavola (one of the most famous physician of his time). The genus is abbreviated B in trade journals. Brassavola Orchids are closely related to the genera Cattleya and Laelia with which they have been used extensively in hybridization to create a multitude of colors.

How to Grow Brassavola Orchids (Brassavola spp)

Light

Brassavola Orchids grow best under bright light with some direct sunshine. A few feet away from a south- or west-facing window is ideal. Keep them away from hot sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves. Regularly turn the pot to ensure the plant gets adequate light on all sides. A Brassavola Orchid that is receiving the right amount of light has mottled leaves with slight reddish marks. Dark green leaves indicate that the orchid needs more light. Yellow leaves means the orchid is receiving too much light. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Water Brassavola Orchids thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering in the cold period. Drooping or wrinkly leaves indicate underwatering. Use tepid, chlorine-free water as orchids are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Avoid wetting the foliage as it can lead to fungal diseases. These orchids are more tolerant to dry soil due to their tubular shaped leaves which are designed to reduce water loss through transpiration. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

The best temperatures for Brassavola Orchids are between 10-290C. Warmer days and cooler night temperatures with a difference of 10-150C are ideal. Cool nights are essential to trigger flowering. Ensure there is good air circulation as orchids cannot tolerate hot and stuffy conditions. Protect them from draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Moderate humidity is ideal for Brassavola Orchids. If the air is too dry, set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth. Do not mist the leaves as it can lead to fungal diseases.

Feeding

Feed Brassavola Orchids every 4 weeks during the growing season with a weak solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Do not feed an orchid that is in flower. It is better to err on the side of underfeeding than overfeeding. Overfeeding may result in loss of roots thus death of the orchid. It can also lead to vegetative growth instead of flower production. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Brassavola Orchids bloom best when they are pot-bound. Repot Brassavola Orchids only when growth begins to suffer. When the orchid has outgrown its pot and the new growth reaches out over the edge of the pot or when the soil has broken down completely. Basically repotting Brassavola Orchids every 2-3 years should be adequate. Repot only when new growth begins, shortly after blooming is over. Use a pot with proper drainage holes or slits; the roots need good air circulation. The pot should be only 1 size larger than the previous one. Use loose, free-draining bark soil. When repotting, shake off excess soil and trim off any dried and shrivelled pseudobulbs. Large orchids should be divided to propagate new plants.

Pruning

Pruning Brassavola Orchids is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife. When flowering is over, cut the flower stalk 1 in. above the 3rd node from the bottom.

How to Propagate Brassavola Orchids (Brassavola spp)

Brassavola Orchids can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season once flowering is over. Gently split the rhizome into sections. Leave at least 3 shoots on each section. Seperate the roots attached to each division from the mother root ball. Remove the old potting soil attached to the roots. Place each section in the center of the pot. Bury the roots in the soil while ensuring that the bottom of the pseudobulb is level with the top of the soil. The best pot should be about 1-2 in. larger than the pseudobulb. Ensure the pot has enough drainage holes and slits to prevent root-rot. Place the set up in a shaded place until they have established their own roots. Water the new Brassavola Orchids lightly to enhance root development. Stake each newly repotted plant.

Common Problems in Growing Brassavola Orchids (Brassavola spp)

  • Brown soft spots on the leaves
  • Brown soft spots on Brassavola Orchid leaves are an indication of a fungal disease; remove the affected leaves immediately to prevent further spread.

  • Brown hard and dry spots on leaves
  • Exposure of Brassavola Orchids to direct sunshine will result in scorch marks which are brown hard and dry spots on the leaves. Move the orchid to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunshine.

  • Mould on leaves
  • This is an indication of Powdery Mildew Disease. Misting the leaves in Brassavola Orchids may lead to mildew growth if the water does not evaporate quickly. Ensure good air circulation and stop misting.

  • Limpy and droopy leaves
  • Limpy and droopy leaves in Brassavola Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Water Brassavola Orchid thoroughly, maintain the soil consistently moist and allow only the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.

  • Dark-green leaves
  • Dark green leaves in Brassavola Orchid indicate that the plant is not getting enough light. Move the orchid to a brighter spot. The leaves of a Brassavola Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be mottled with slight reddish marks.

  • Yellowish leaves
  • Yellowish leaves in Brassavola Orchid indicate that the plant is getting too much light. Move the orchid to a shadier spot. The leaves of a Brassavola Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be mottled with slight reddish marks.

  • Leaf tips turn black and die
  • The cause of black leaf tips in Brassavola Orchid is the presence of chemicals like chlorine and flourides in water. Use chlorine-free water only.

  • No blooms
  • Too little light for Brassavola Orchids will result in no blooms. Move the plant to a brighter spot. Overfeeding Brassavola Orchids can result in vegetative growth instead of flowers. Feed the orchid once monthly with a weak solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

Toxicity

Brassavola Orchids (Brassavola spp) are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.

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