Laelia anceps, a native of Mexico but also occurring more rarely in Guatemala and Honduras, is one of the most common, yet one of the most satisfying orchids to grow outdoors in San Diego. It's ease of care makes it an ideal plant for the beginner as well as the expert. Laelia anceps is one of the hardiest for cold tolerance of any of the Cattleya alliance, tolerating reported lows of 22ºF without any damage, and high temperatures over 100ºF rarely trouble it. It's blooming season is customarily November through January. It is grown in pots or mounted, and in subtropical areas is noted for being one of the best to naturalize on trees around the garden, where regular watering is usually adequate. Many trees (except pines) are well suited for L. anceps. Oaks are among the best of trees, and jacarada, palms, citrus, fiejoa, dracinias, and white birch are quite good. Plants should be tied or stapled to trunks and branches.
Light: This laelia likes medium to high light, about 2000-3500 foot-candles. Bright light to some sun must be given to the plants, but no direct sun in the middle of the day. Leaves should be a medium green color. Very low light is not adequate for successful blooming.
Temperature: Laelia anceps is one of the more temperature tolerant orchids in cultivation today, making it a natural for outdoor growing in southern California and comparable climates. It has been known to survive winter nights of down to 22ºF unharmed, higher day temperatures can be tolerated (up to 100 degrees F), if humidity, air circulation and shading are increased.
Water: Water frequently throughout the growing season, which is mostly April through November. Mounted plants may be watered daily during spring and summer. Water may be reduced in the winter dormant time. Washing off the flower buds by rain or hose is often needed to keep buds from sticking together.
Fertilizer: Regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer will enhance growth, particularly during the growing season of April to November.
Potting: Potting is necessary when 1) the rhizome of the plants protrudes over the edge of the pot, or 2) the potting medium starts to break down and drain poorly (usually after 2 to 3 years). It is best to repot 1) just before new roots sprout from the rhizome, 2) after flowering, or 3) in the spring time.
Laelia Anceps Care Sheet
Light: Bright to very bright
Laelia Anceps orchids require bright light conditions to flower. Normally the leaves have a reddish tinge which indicates that the light is right and will allow the psuedo bulbs to properly develop. Strong air movement should be provided at all times.
Temperature: 55º F (13º C) to 80º F (26º C)
In the summer time, adequate day temperatures should be around 77˚F (25˚C) and night lows down to 60˚C (16˚C). In the winter, days average should be 70˚F (20-21˚C) and nights average of 50˚F (10-12˚C). These orchids can survive brief cool temperatures down to 32˚F (0˚C), but need to be protected from frost.
Water: Let the medium dry between waterings
This orchid likes to dry out slightly between waterings, so the frequency will be influenced by environmental conditions. They need to be watered often in spring and summer, when they are actively growing and allowed to slightly dry between watering again. Water should be reduced in autumn, when the new growths have hardened off and are fully developed.
In their natural habitat, humidity is high, around 80 %, in spring and summer, but drops drastically in winter. Keep the orchid in a well ventilated area at all times to avoid disease and promote healthy development.
Laelia Anceps is an extremely easy orchid to care for and flower. These orchids are naturally found in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. They normally grow in warm oak forests, with tropical deciduous trees at elevations of 1200–1600 meters. These orchids can hold from 2 to 5 flowers per inflorescence. The large, showy flowers are 6 –10.0 cm across and last for several weeks, particularly if kept cool and dry. They are usually fragrant on sunny days and blossom color is highly variable, but in the typical form sepals are pale rose-purple, with somewhat darker petals.
When feeding this orchid, half the recommended amount of fertilizer should be used. Generally a high nitrogen fertilizer should be used in spring, a balanced fertilizer in summer and a low nitrogen- high phosphate fertilizer in late summer throughout autumn. The high phosphate will promote better blooming in the following flowering season, while slowing growth to harden off the developing new shoots before winter. Remember to flush the pot with plain water monthly to reduce salt build-ups, which can damage the orchid’s roots.
A course open medium is used to insure proper drainage and allow roots to dry between waterings. They can also be mounted, but would need to be misted daily to insure the correct moisture they need.
Laelia anceps 'White Wings'
Laelia anceps grows well and blooms well in cultivation. It grows in Mexico and Honduras. It is warm to hot growing, needs a dry winter rest and bright light. If it is dry it can winter outside if there is no hard freeze.
This plant is in sphagnum over peanuts in a 5 1/2-inch clay pot. There are three pseudobulbs and a new growth and it stands 10 inches above the pot.
- Laelia anceps ssp. anceps (Mexico to Guatemala). The diploid chromosome number of L. anceps ssp. anceps has been determined as 2n = 40
- Laelia anceps ssp. dawsonii (J.Anderson) Rolfe (Mexico - Guerrero, Oaxaca). The diploid chromosome number of L. anceps ssp. dawsonii has been determined as 2n = 40.
- La Croix, I. F.; Aubron, Manuel (2008). The New Encyclopedia of Orchids:1500 Species in cultivation. Timber Press. p. 238. ISBN 0-88192-876-3. Retrieved June 22, 2009.
- page 252. Leonardo P. Felix and Marcelo Guerra: "Variation in chromosome number and the basic number of subfamily Epidendroideae (Orchidaceae)" Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 163(2010)234-278, The Linnean Society of London
11 September 2015
I acquired this orchid and immediately placed it in my "hospital" under "critical condition". All psuedobulbs are dried out, and the one currently sustaining a leaf is in dire straights. I washed and rinsed the remaining roots, and allowed to dry for one day. It is set in a clay poy with very loosely draped moss around the roots (not in the best condition) and rhizome. It is hoped that the barely damp moss promote new root growth. Once new roots are spotted, this plant can begin the long road to recovery. I have aspirations in seeing any bud or flowers for at least two years. For that to happen, new pseudobulbs will have to form and mature. The plant will need to develop new pseudobulbs (at least 2 with leaves) and of course become established. I will keep an eye on, and touch test the moss for dampness, moisten as needed (using a spray bottle, not the pouring of water on the moss) and keep the plant inside in ambient light.. The last spritz was Saturday, 12 September 2015. I will touch test the moss to determine it's next spritz.
Photo right shows the plant and although roots in the picture appear white, they are more "mushy" than firm. I would trim the dried bulbs but hoping they have enough food and water stored to assist new growth. The remaining possibly viable pseudobulb, with leaf is where new growth should occur along with young hardy new roots.
My next planned detailed observation of the rhizome and roots is scheduled for 10 October 2015.
10 October 2015