Go Back to Free Culture Sheet Index -- Baker's Home Page
Charles and Margaret Baker's Home Page is http://www.orchidculture.com
Laelia speciosa (H. B. and K.) Schlechter

This culture sheet was provided by Charles and Margaret Baker.
Please visit their web site to find out about their Orchid Species Culture books,
Pollination Database, and culture sheet subscription service.

An Introduction to Climate Tables and how to use them is available.
Visit: http://www.orchidculture.com/COD/intro_climate.html.

 
ORCHID SPECIES CULTURE
Charles and Margaret Baker

Laelia speciosa (H. B. and K.) Schlechter

AKA: Bletia speciosa Humboldt, Bonpland, and Kunth, Bletia grandiflora La
Llave and Lexarza, Laelia grandiflora (La Llave and Lexarza) Lindley,
Laelia grandiflora var. alba Dimmock, Cattleya grahamii Lindley, Laelia
majalis Lindley, Cattleya majalis (Lindley) Beer, Laelia majalis alba
hort. 

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Mexico. Plants are found over a wide area of the central
plateau and surrounding highlands in the states of Durango, Zacatecas,
Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Querétaro, Hidalgo, San
Luis Potosí, and Tamaulipas. They grow on oak trees in open, dry,
deciduous, stunted forests at 6250-8200 ft. (1900-2500 m). The habitat
experiences severe drought from Dec.-Jun. (Jun.-Dec.). 

CLIMATE: Station #76577, Guanajuato, Mexico, Lat. 21.0N, Long. 101.3W, at
6726 ft. (2050 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 8000
ft. (2440 m). Record extreme temperatures are not available for this
location, but records from nearby locations indicate that at this
elevation the record high is probably warmer than 100F (38C), and the
record low is probably colder than 20F (-7C). 

N/HEMISPHERE    JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN  JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC
F AVG MAX        67   70   75   80   82   80   76   76   75   74   71   68
F AVG MIN        37   42   45   50   53   55   54   53   53   49   44   42
DIURNAL RANGE    30   28   30   30   29   25   22   23   22   25   27   26
RAIN/INCHES     0.1  0.2  0.2  0.4  1.0  1.7  4.7  2.5  2.2  0.7  0.4  0.4
HUMIDITY/%      N/A
BLOOM SEASON                *    *  ***  ***    *    *         *
DAYS CLR        N/A
RAIN/MM           3    5    5   10   25   43  119   64   56   18   10   10
C AVG MAX      19.4 21.1 23.9 26.7 27.8 26.7 24.4 24.4 23.9 23.3 21.7 20.0
C AVG MIN       2.8  5.4  7.1  9.9 11.6 12.7 12.1 11.6 11.6  9.3  6.6  5.4
DIURNAL RANGE  16.6 15.7 16.8 16.8 16.2 14.0 12.3 12.8 12.3 14.0 15.1 14.6
S/HEMISPHERE    JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC  JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN

Cultural Recommendations: 

LIGHT: 3000-4000 fc. Bright conditions are required. Light should be
filtered or diffused at midday to reduce the risk of sunburn. Strong air
movement should be provided at all times.

TEMPERATURES: Summer days average 76-80F (24-27C), and nights average
53-55F (12-13C), with a diurnal range of 22-25F (12-14C). These
temperatures represent the coolest conditions under which this species
should be grown, but the range in habitat elevation, suggests that plants
should adapt to conditions 6-8F (3-4C) warmer than indicated. When the
growing area is cooled by an evaporative cooler, Laelia speciosa thrives
when placed in the strong, cool, moist airflow near the outlet.

HUMIDITY: Records are not available for this location, but reports from
nearby locations indicate that humidity probably averages close to 65%
most of the year, dropping to about 55% at the end of the dry season in
late winter and early spring. 

WATER: Rainfall is light to moderate for 4-5 months from late spring to
early autumn. Amounts decrease rapidly in autumn and remain very low
during a 7-8 month dry season that lasts until late spring. Cultivated
plants should be watered often when they are actively growing, but they
must dry quickly after watering. Water should be drastically reduced after
new growths mature in autumn.

FERTILIZER: 1/4-1/2 recommended strength, applied weekly during periods of
active growth. Many growers recommend using a fertilizer lower in nitrogen
and higher in phosphorus in late summer and autumn.

REST PERIOD: Winter days average 67-70F (19-21C), and nights average
37-42F (3-5C), with a diurnal range of 26-30F (15-17C). Although plants
survive short periods of below freezing temperatures in nature, extreme
conditions should be avoided in cultivation. Because of the range in
habitat elevation, plants should adapt to average temperatures 6-8F (3-4C)
warmer than indicated. 
Rainfall in the habitat is very low from autumn through spring. In autumn,
heavy dew frequently provides some additional moisture, but in late winter
and early spring, conditions are so dry that even moisture from
condensation is rare. Water should be reduced for cultivated plants in
autumn. In fact, Laelia speciosa needs to dry out in autumn and remain dry
for relatively long periods between waterings. An occasional early-morning
misting normally provides adequate moisture in most growing areas. In
winter and early spring, however, even misting should be reduced as plants
need to stay dry for several weeks at a time. 
Growers confirm that the dry, cool rest is absolutely essential. Leon
Wiard (1987) reported that, "Watering, necessary for good flower
production, must be limited to very light, infrequent sprayings from
October until new growth starts in spring. My usual recommendation is that
light watering be done only on U. S. national holidays during the period,
with a choice made between Christmas and New Year's Day." 
Growers report that new growths and flower buds often blast if the plant
is watered too soon. In addition, flower spikes may not even be initiated
if too much water is given too soon after new growth starts. Some growers
recommend that the frequency of morning mistings should be increased
slightly after vegetative growth starts, but that water should not be
increased significantly until after flowering. This recommendation appears
to be given validity by comparing the monthly rainfall averages with the
period of peak blooming. Fertilizer should be eliminated until water is
increased in spring. In the habitat, light is brightest during the winter
dry season, and cultivated plants need as much winter light as possible. 

GROWING MEDIA: Growers recommend mounting plants on tree-fern or cork
slabs. However, mounted plants need high humidity and at least daily
watering in summer, and several waterings a day may be needed during very
hot, dry weather. However, plants are most often grown in pots filled with
an open, fast-draining medium to allow the roots to dry rapidly after
watering. Medium-sized fir bark or cork nuggets work equally well. Plants
should be repotted before the medium starts to break down or when the
plant overgrows its pot. Plants become reestablished faster if they are
repotted just as new root growth is starting, but the brittle new roots
must be handled carefully. 

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The bloom season shown in the climate table is based
on cultivation records. In nature, plants bloom from late spring to
midsummer. 
Laelia speciosa is considered difficult to cultivate by many growers, so
its cultural requirements, especially the need for the exceptionally dry
winter, should be given careful attention.

Plant and Flower Information:

PLANT SIZE AND TYPE: A 7-8 in. (18-20 cm) sympodial epiphyte. 

PSEUDOBULB: About 2 in. (5 cm) long. Pseudobulbs are pale green to grayish
green, egg-shaped, and tightly clustered. They are smooth and covered with
papery sheaths when young, but they develop furrows and wrinkles with age.

LEAVES: 5-6 in. (13-15 cm) long. A single rigid, leathery leaf is normally
carried at the top of each pseudobulb, but some growths may occasionally
produce 2. The rather narrow, sharply pointed leaves are often quickly
deciduous and may not last until the next growing season. 

INFLORESCENCE: 5-8 in. (12-20 cm) long. An inflorescence emerges from the
center of the new growth in spring, usually before the leaf develops
fully. 

FLOWERS: 1-2. Large, showy blossoms develop rapidly at the top of each
inflorescence. The flowers are 4-6 in. (10-15 cm) across with a heavy
texture. They are long lasting with a weak fragrance that resembles
violets. Pointed sepals and petals are about the same length, but the
petals are twice as wide. Sepals and petals are usually pale rosy lilac,
but blossoms may be very dark or very pale. The 3-lobed lip, which has
rosy lilac borders, is white in the center with short lavender-red lines
scattered randomly in the throat and on the midlobe. The red lines on the
lip form a unique pattern that is said to be as variable as fingerprints.
The lip sidelobes are erect on each side of the column. The almost round,
spreading midlobe has wavy margins with a yellow line down the center
which is widest at the base. Plants with completely white flowers are
found occasionally, but they are rare. Halbinger and Soto (1997) report
that plants with the largest flowers and best form originate in Michoacán.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: N/A. 

REFERENCES: 

Bechtel, P. 1990. The laelias of Mexico. American Orchid Society Bulletin,
59(12): 1229-1234. 

Halbinger, F. 1993. laelias de Mexico. Asociación Mexicana de
Orquideologia, A. C. México D. F. Mexico. 

Halbinger, F. and M. Soto. 1997. Laelias of Mexico. Orquidea (Mex) 15(1). 

Hamilton, R. Orchid nurse. 

Hamilton, R. 1988. When does it flower? 2nd ed. Robert M. Hamilton, 9211
Beckwith Road, Richmond, B.C., Canada V6X 1V7.

Hawkes, A. [1965] 1987. Encyclopaedia of cultivated orchids. Faber and
Faber, London. 

Löb, U. 1990. The genus Laelia in Mexico. Schlechteriana 1(1): 8-15. 

McVaugh, R. 1989 (1986). Orchidaceae, in Flora Novo-Galiciana vol. 16, a
descriptive account of the vascular plants of western Mexico. Ed. W. R.
Anderson. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U. S. A.

Wiard, L. 1987. An introduction to the orchids of Mexico. Comstock
Publishing Assoc. Ithaca and London. 

Withner, C. 1990. The cattleyas and their relatives, vol. II:the laelias.
Timber Press, Portland, OR. 

PHOTOS/DRAWINGS: 

Bechtel, P. 1990. The laelias of Mexico. American Orchid Society Bulletin,
59(12): 1229-1234. 

Halbinger, F. 1993. Laelias de Mexico. Asociación Mexicana de
Orquideologia, A. C. México D. F. Mexico. 

Halbinger, F. and M. Soto. 1997. Laelias of Mexico. Orquidea (Mex) 15(1). 

Löb, U. 1990. The genus Laelia in Mexico. Schlechteriana 1(1): 8-15. 

Wiard, L. 1987. An introduction to the orchids of Mexico. Comstock
Publishing Assoc. Ithaca and London. 

Withner, C. 1990. The cattleyas and their relatives, vol. II:the laelias.
Timber Press, Portland, OR. 


Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. Baker
Sheet version 25626147

.........................................................................
Please remember that this sheet is for your use only, and though it was
provided free of charge, it may not be reproduced or retransmitted in
any way without permission.
.........................................................................

__________________________________________________________________________
 "Orchid Species Culture" Charles & Margaret Baker, Portland, Oregon USA

    Orchid Culture & Pollination site    http://www.orchidculture.com
                     
                   email <cobaker@troymeyers.com>
__________________________________________________________________________

    "Orchid Species Culture Vol. 1 - Pescatorea, Phaius, Phalaenopsis,
   Pholidota, Phragmipedium, Pleione"  250 pages of culture information.

            "Orchid Species Culture Vol. 2 - Dendrobium"
  850 pages of culture information for more than 1230 Dendrobium species.

  "The genus Paphiopedilum--Natural History and Cultivation" - Part 1
    Dr. Guido Braem, Charles and Margaret Baker  ISBN 0-9665337-0-4
             Full page color photograph of each species.

  "The genus Paphiopedilum--Natural History and Cultivation" - Part 2
    Dr. Guido Braem, Charles and Margaret Baker  ISBN 0-9665337-1-2
             Full page color photograph of each species.

     "Orchid Species Culture Vol. 3 - The Laelia/Cattleya Alliance"
                       coming in a few months.
__________________________________________________________________________
 


Go Back to Free Culture Sheet Index -- Baker's Home Page

This culture sheet was provided by Charles and Margaret Baker.
Please visit their web site to find out about their Orchid Species Culture books,
Pollination Database, and culture sheet subscription service.