Leptotes is a favorite genus from Brazil, and we even have a dedicated “Leptotes Land” for our small collection of species. The largest of the species is Leptotes bicolor, which is found as both the type form photographed here, and an album form.
The outstanding bloom of this particular orchid is thanks to the assistance of several hundred lady bugs. We had a proliferation of aphids in 2019 in our cool growing room that did not abate with homemade pesticides (soap, alcohol, etc.). They particularly enjoyed Leptotes bicolor and Dendrobium lawesii flowers. I was reluctant to use anything more potent in our house. My husband had the idea of releasing a container of lady bugs from the local garden center into the room. Not an aphid has been seen in 2020, and even a few lady bugs still continue to patrol the orchid mounts nearly a year later.
We grow all of our Leptotes bicolor in baskets, as they have a “clumping” growth habit — and can become an orb of flowers when sizable. This particular plant is in a 4″ (10cm) wood basket filled with hydroton.
The species is known to be tolerable of a range of temperatures, and I know one grower in the San Francisco Bay Area who has grown them in an unheated greenhouse. However, Leptotes bicolor grows and flowers more abundantly in intermediate temperatures for us. In the wild, the species is found at elevations of 500-900m in coastal Brazil and Paraguay — clearly indicating a preference for intermediate to warm conditions.
We have grown them outdoors for spring – fall, and the baskets did well, but root growth was much better in our higher humidity cool room. Hence the creation of “Leptotes Land.” All of our Leptotes are watered 5-7 days/week in summer and 3-5 days/week in winter, depending upon temperatures and humidity.
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