Distinctive, majestic, and elegant are adjectives that come to mind for Laelia (Cattleya) grandis, a Brazilian orchid species. As with other Brazilian Laelia, this species has migrated to the genus Cattleya, though few orchid growers have adopted the change in common usage. It is relatively uncommon in cultivation, compared to other large-flowered Laelia and Cattleya, perhaps because it is not used much (if at all nowadays) for hybridizing.
This Laelia species does not have many different color forms, with varying degrees of pink on the lip, and a subtle range of light to dark golden brown for the petals and sepals. Flowering occurs in early to mid summer, with new growth initiated in the late summer. Laelia grandis appreciates high light (we grow it outdoors with Laelia anceps in summer), reflective of its native growing conditions of near full sun exposure at the top of tall trees. Well-drained media, with some drying between watering, is ideal. Ours is potted in hydroton (we use inorganic media as much as possible … and water frequently with filtered high quality water or RO water).
Laelia grandis is native to coastal areas of Brazil, and as such, most cultural recommendations are to grow it warm — ideally needing 65F (18C) nights. It seems that the orchids and/or orchid growers in central and Northern California have not received this geographical memo!
Laelia grandis — and many other Brazilian Laelia reputed to need warm conditions — are regularly grown in our area with nights to 50F (10C) (and sometimes lower in unheated greenhouses or outdoors on the coast). They bloom and thrive. Our cultivar came from the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate where it is grown outdoors year-round, with winter lows even dipping below freezing. We are not that bold in our growing of this species, and bring Laelia grandis into the cool room (50F/10C nights) for the winter.
Interested in more unique and beautiful orchid images?
My vision to create orchid portraits emerged from my appreciation for the “whole orchid.” So many photographs of orchids focus only on the flower. But orchids are not flowers: they are entire plants and living beings. Connect more deeply with the many dimensions of orchids …