How to grow and care for Laelia Orchids Indoors

Indoor Orchid, Laelia Orchid

Botanical name: Laelia spp
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Epidendreae
Subtribe: Laeliinae

Laelia Orchids are easy to grow Indoor Orchids grown for their strikingly colorful flowers. The flowers comprise of petals which are of a thinner texture than the sepals but both are of similar shape but the sepals are narrower. The lip (lowermost petal) is free from the arched flower. They are mostly herbs with a laterally compressed pseudobulb. One to four leathery or fleshy leaves are born near the top of each pseudobulb. The leaves are broadly ovate to oblong. Laelia is a genus of orchids found in areas of subtropical or temperate climate in Central and South America, mostly in Mexico from sea level to mountain forests. Majority of Laelia Orchids grow on trees (epiphytes) and a few grow on rocks (lithophytes). It is important to research the particular orchid you have in order to determine its specific requirements. The high elevation varieties will require cooler temperatures and plenty of sunlight. Lower elevation varieties will benefit from higher temperatures. Varieties from the tropical forests require warmer temperatures and higher humidity. The genus is abbreviated L in trade journals. Most of the Laelia Orchids available today are hybrids. Pink, white, red and purple flowered varieties are available. Laelia Orchids are closely related to the genera Cattleya and Brassavola with which they have been used extensively in hybridization.

How to Grow Laelia Orchids (Laelia spp)

Light

Laelia Orchids grow best in bright, indirect light for about 10 hours per day. A few feet away from an east- or west-facing window is ideal. Keep them away from direct sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves. Regularly turn the pot to ensure the plant gets adequate light on all sides. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Water Laelia 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. 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. Laelia Orchids are more tolerant of dry soil conditions due to the presence of pseudobulbs and their thick leaves. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

The best temperatures for Laelia 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. The higher elevation varieties require cooler temperatures. The lower elevation varieties require warmer temperatures. Tropical forests varieties will require warmer temperatures and higher humidity. 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 Laelia 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 Laelia Orchids every 2 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. In feeding, 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

Laelia Orchids bloom best when they are pot-bound. Repot Laelia 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 Laelia 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.

Pruning

Pruning Laelia Orchids is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife.

How to Propagate Laelia Orchids (Laelia spp)

Laelia 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 Laelia Orchids lightly to enhance root development. Stake each newly repotted plant.

Common Problems in Growing Laelia Orchids (Laelia spp)

  • Brown soft spots on the leaves
  • Brown soft spots on Laelia 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 Laelia 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 Laelia 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 Laelia Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Water Laelia 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 Laelia Orchid indicate that the plant is not getting enough light. Move the orchid to a brighter spot. The leaves of a Laelia Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light-green.

  • Yellowish leaves
  • Yellowish leaves in Laelia Orchid indicate that the plant is getting too much light. Move the orchid to a shadier spot. The leaves of a Laelia Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light-green.

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

  • No blooms
  • Too little light for Laelia Orchids will result in no blooms. Move the plant to a brighter spot. Overfeeding Laelia 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

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

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