Lelia Is The Most Delicate Of The Orchids. Types, Home Care. Photo

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Lelia Is The Most Delicate Of The Orchids. Types, Home Care. Photo
Lelia Is The Most Delicate Of The Orchids. Types, Home Care. Photo
Video: Lelia Is The Most Delicate Of The Orchids. Types, Home Care. Photo
Video: Vanda Orchid Care for Beginners, Watering and Fertilizing Vanda Orchids, Orchid Diva 2023, February

Large-flowered and graceful Lelia is one of the most spectacular orchids. A graceful fairy with rich shades of lilac-pink hues of color, she pleasantly stands out against the background of more popular species. Among the laelias there are both large and miniature plants, allowing you to find your ideal variety for every taste. And the capriciousness of the plant is often exaggerated. It is a demanding orchid in need of quality care that prefers coolness and loves fresh air. When buying laelias, you should take into account its peculiarities, and when leaving - your own experience of dealing with these special tropical beauties.

Lelia is the most delicate of the orchids
Lelia is the most delicate of the orchids


  • Delicate indoor orchid Lelia - plant description
  • Types of laelias for growing in rooms
  • Conditions for growing indoor laelias
  • Lelia care at home
  • Diseases, pests and problems in growing
  • Reproduction of laelias

Delicate indoor orchid Lelia - plant description

Phalaenopsis, Cattleya and Dendrobiums are now on the orchid market in such numbers that other varieties are becoming increasingly rare. One of the plants that has suffered unfairly from the growing popularity of the easiest indoor orchids to grow is the beautiful Lelia. This is an amazingly graceful and touching orchid with a special appearance and character.

Lelias are very often confused with Cattleya. Part of this confusion is due to selection, as almost all Laelias are Cattleya-shaped on sale. But some irresponsible cataloging or the lack of complete information about the plant in flower shops also often causes the purchase of laelias instead of Cattleya (and vice versa).

Lelia, like most plants from the Orchid family that have found their fame as greenhouse and indoor plants, is a tropical orchid with special requirements for growing conditions. In nature, representatives of the genus Lelia live in Central and South America.

Lelias are modest in size but effectively blooming orchids. These are mainly terrestrial species, in nature preferring to settle on rocks and stones, but there are also epiphytes among them. They are sensitive to the reaction and composition of the substrate. Lelias belong to the sympodial orchids. Fusiform or cylindrical, sometimes stem-shaped pseudobulbs of miniature species Cattleya in hybrid indoor varieties change to slightly larger and more powerful ones. Bulbs are compact and dense. They usually release one or two sheets.

The sizes of laelias directly depend on the species. Among the plants there are miniature orchids only a few centimeters high, and there are also large, powerful plants, more than 50 cm in height. Laelia leaves are very tough, leathery, lanceolate and linear, with a large enough pot in the mass they look very decorative.

Without exception, all laelias belong to winter flowering orchids
Without exception, all laelias belong to winter flowering orchids

Flowering laelias

The flowering of Laelia is often compared to Cattleya. And if we are talking about hybrids, then the flowers are, indeed, very similar in shape and size, but it is still difficult to confuse these orchids. Even varietal laelias, unlike Cattleya, produce long, graceful peduncles that are pleasantly different from the more popular orchid, and the shape of the petals and sepals is slightly different.

The grace of this orchid makes it more valuable in terms of decoration and cutting. Laelia flower stalks can reach a height of half a meter. They bear a multi-flowered raceme, less often they are single-flowered. The flowers are large, up to 20 cm in diameter in varietal plants; they conquer both with bright, not variegated color combinations and aroma.

Laelias are characterized by a three-lobed lip and lanceolate sepals and petals, with a thin, pointed, most often bent, graceful line tip. The bright center of the lip is combined with pale, poorly defined lateral lobes, curled inward and a beautiful, patterned disc or bend, ridges and velvety texture.

The bright color of the petals and sepals is combined with a colored, often contrasting, decorated lip. The color palette of laelias is shades of soft lilac-pink and warm-purple shades with delicate splashes of white, yellow and dark cherry.

Without exception, all laelias belong to winter flowering orchids. For them, flowering is considered natural from December to the end of February, although the timing of each orchid may vary depending on the characteristics of the conditions created.

Lelia Gouldiana
Lelia Gouldiana
Tiny Lelia (Laelia pumila)
Tiny Lelia (Laelia pumila)

Types of laelias for growing in rooms

The variety of basic species (and scientists still define more than seven dozen of them) allows you to choose a plant to your liking - with different flowers and sizes. Lelias are divided into epiphytic and terrestrial species, Mexican, Brazilian and miniature, differing in their needs for a cool winter and tolerance of drier air.

Almost all laelias can be grown in greenhouses. The range of indoor species is much more modest; plants are represented by the five most spectacular and least capricious species.

Lelia Gulda (Laelia gouldiana) is an epiphytic species with short roots and elongated ribbed pseudobulbs, capable of producing up to 3 leaves up to 20 cm long in a linear shape. Peduncles up to 75 cm in height are crowned with a brush of 3-9 flowers up to 10 cm in diameter with a graceful shape and strong aroma. The three-lobed lip with a bright middle lobe stands out noticeably against the background of the lanceolate petals. The lilac-purple color is very bright on the petals, with whitish sides on the lip and beautiful strokes and lines of the throat. This Laelia blooms usually in the middle of winter.

Lelia double-edged (Laelia anceps) is an epiphyte with tetrahedral flat pseudobulbs, producing single, rather wide leaves. The delicate mauve color of the petals and sepals is combined with a lip wrapped on the sides with a yellow inner color, an elongated middle lobe of a dark red tone with ridges and dark strokes. The three lower sepals are narrow and lanceolate, the two lateral petals are slightly wider, wavy, and textured. This plant also blooms in the middle of winter.

Lelia purpurea (Laelia purpurata) is a large species with clavate long stems, crowned with rigid single tongue-shaped leaves up to 30 cm long with a notched apex. Peduncles are straight, with a cover, crowned with a cluster of very large flowers. With a diameter of up to 20 cm and a strong pleasant smell, they stand out in a white-lilac, light color with beautiful veins, a typical division into narrow sepals and have larger diamond-shaped wide petals with a more intense pattern. The funnel-shaped lip is velvety, purple, with streaks and a light corrugated edge.

Tiny Lelia (Laelia pumila) is a miniature species with creeping roots and single-leaved pseudobulbs. It stands out with only ten centimeter, fleshy and tough oval leaves with a pointed tip. Peduncles are short, no longer than leaves, crowned with one fragrant flower with pink-lilac petals of a linear-ovoid shape with a wavy edge and oblong sepals. The lobes of the lip are not pronounced, the lateral parts are almost wrapped in a tube, and the lilac color with a pink spot and an almost white base seems very delicate.

But still more often on sale there are hybrid varieties of laelia, called Cattleya-shaped forms and sometimes even sold in catalogs in the Cattleya section.

Lelia double-edged (Laelia anceps)
Lelia double-edged (Laelia anceps)
Lelia purpurea (Laelia purpurata)
Lelia purpurea (Laelia purpurata)

Conditions for growing indoor laelias

Among the popular types of indoor orchids, the name Lelia is not found. This is not a "basic" orchid, which is usually recommended only to experienced growers and fans of these amazing plants. Lelia's reputation as a capricious tropical princess hardly lives up to. But it is still better to start it after the experience of growing not only phalaenopsis, but also other more popular representatives of the Orchid family, appears.

For laelia, growing conditions will have to be strictly controlled. Most often, an orchid requires additional lighting, which complicates the selection of a comfortable environment. Ideal conditions for this orchid are recreated only in florariums, flower showcases, orchidariums and tropical greenhouses. When grown as a regular houseplant, lelia is completely caregiver.

Lighting and placement

This is a light-loving orchid species that does not tolerate shading, but needs direct sun scattering. The traditional flowering period of Laelia necessitates winter supplementary lighting, and it is not recommended to grow this orchid without a phytolamp.

An exception is situations where it is possible to rearrange the plant to a brighter window and compensate for the usual seasonal characteristics. But since even on the southern window, the duration of daylight hours in winter will not increase, it is still preferable for Laelia to use additional supplementary lighting.

The intensity and duration of light is critical during the growth and maturation of the shoots. For laelia, ten hour daylight hours are considered the standard.

If lelia is grown in rooms, then they choose living quarters with stable air temperatures that do not overheat after lunch under the southern sun. The eastern or western windowsill are considered ideal for this orchid.

Temperature regime and ventilation

Comfortable temperatures for laelia are determined by the type of plant. There are two types of laelias that love high temperatures and require readings above 21 degrees all year round (with a desired maximum limit of 28 degrees). This laelia is purple and tiny. All other species and hybrid forms of laelias are plants that love coolness.

During the period of active development, they are kept in rooms where, at least at night, the temperature remains within the range from 16 to 18 degrees. In winter, such laelias prefer to stay in rooms with indicators of about 16 degrees during the day and 12-15 degrees at night. The temperature difference between daytime and nighttime values ​​is not only welcome, but should also be as strong as possible during the rest period.

The most unexpected (and often overlooked) trait of Laelia is its need for a constant supply of fresh air. The plant does not tolerate a stagnant environment, more than other orchids, it needs ventilation. Lelias feel great in rooms with constantly ajar windows; in the warm season, they can even be taken out into the fresh air in protected places.

When buying this orchid, it is imperative to clarify all the information about its usual temperatures. Even species that are initially cold-resistant or thermophilic, depending on the cultivation technique in the flower center, may require more specific conditions. Clarification of the information will provide the plant with proper individual care.

It is no coincidence that caring for lelia is considered more difficult than for phalaenopsis
It is no coincidence that caring for lelia is considered more difficult than for phalaenopsis

Lelia care at home

It is no coincidence that caring for this orchid is considered more difficult than for phalaenopsis. Lelias need to provide not only at least an average air humidity, but also proper feeding and watering, which depend on the stage of its development. Close inspection of the plant is an essential part of an overall care program to spot problems in time.

Watering and air humidity

These orchids are hygrophilous and live up to their reputation as an exemplary tropical plant. For them, both irrigation and air humidity should be as saturated as possible. The moisture content of the substrate is determined by the stage of development. During the active phase of the growth of leaves and peduncles, laelias are watered abundantly, preventing the substrate and roots from completely drying out.

During the period of preparation for flowering and after its completion, watering is limited, allowing the soil to dry out more. For laelia, the preferred typical method of saturating the soil is by immersion in water. When grown on blocks and snags in summer, watering for the orchid should be daily.

Air humidity for this type of orchid should be medium to high, regardless of the season and stage of development. Frequent spraying is great for laelia, although when grown in showcases or installing humidifiers, the plant blooms much more profusely. At the same time, Laelia does not require too high moisture values: it blooms beautifully even at average rates, if only the plant is protected from extremely dry air, and the environment is stable.

Water quality is very important for this orchid. It is watered only with water with soft characteristics and high quality, using filtered, rain or melt water, and not just well-settled water.

Top dressing and composition of fertilizers

Top dressing is perhaps the only standard care item for this orchid. Fertilizers are applied during the growth period, fully following the manufacturer's instructions for the concentration of the drug. For laelia, foliar feeding methods can be used, but fertilizers must be diluted in water at a reduced concentration.

For this orchid, it is advisable to use only special preparations for orchids, since it is sensitive to the ratio of macro- and microelements in the composition of fertilizers and is sensitive to changes in the reaction of the soil.

Lelia is distinguished by its special, rather powerful, specifically developing roots
Lelia is distinguished by its special, rather powerful, specifically developing roots

Transplant and substrate

Lelia is distinguished by its special, rather powerful, specifically developing roots. When grown in classic containers and even special pots for orchids, Lelia can surprise with the appearance of roots in the holes and their uneven development. The simple appearance of roots from the pot is not a sign of the need to change the container: Lelia is transplanted only when the roots really cease to fit in the pot and the substrate will practically not be visible in their mass.

With good care, laelias develop quickly and may require a transplant every 2 years. The plant can be transplanted only before the active growing season has begun, during a period of complete dormancy.

The soil for laelia is easy to find: for this orchid, only special substrates for orchids are used. Purchased ready-made soils are preferred. If you have experience in growing orchids, then the soil can be made from pine bark and fern roots with the addition of coal and inert material. Epiphytic species of laelias, as well as miniature varieties, can be grown on blocks, snags, stones, fixing the plants in the usual way with moss.

Lelia is transplanted carefully, simply passing the orchid (only if an emergency transplant is carried out and the roots are damaged, the soil is removed, the damaged areas are cut off and treated with fungicides). The plant immediately after transplanting is exposed in places with high air humidity and soft lighting, without watering for 5 to 7 days to adapt and prevent diseases.

Diseases, pests and problems in growing

Laelias often suffer from mealybugs, which are more annoying than other indoor orchids. If there are traces of any disease and damage to the roots or signs of pests, the fight should be started immediately with highly specialized fungicidal and insecticidal preparations.

Reproduction of laelias

Lelias are propagated at home only by dividing adult plants. Large bushes that do not fit into standard containers can be divided if the plant has at least 7 pseudobulbs. The minimum cut size for Laelia is 3 sprouts. Individual shoots of this orchid do not take root.

The seed propagation method for this orchid is used only at a professional level.

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