Orchids which grow wild in Honduras and some parts of South America, and in temperate regions are grown in greenhouses with a minimum winter temperature of 55 degrees. They are closely allied to those favorite Orchids Cattleya and Laelia and belong to the family Orchidaceae. They vary considerably in appearance but most of them have small, stemlike pseudobulbs, each with one leaf. All have white or whitish flowers, produced from the junction of the bulb and leaf, and they bloom chiefly in the spring and summer months. The name commemorates A. M. Brassavola, a Venetian botanist.
The Best Potting Compost
These Orchids are generally grown in baskets or pans suspended near the roof of the greenhouse. A suitable compost consists of osmunda fiber, finely cut. They may also be grown in Fir bark. It may he necessary to insert a small stick in the compost to which the plant can be tied to prevent the weight of the leaves, particularly of those kinds which have drooping foliage, from unduly loosening the plant. A few kinds—e.g., B. Digbyana, B. glauca and B. nodosa—have erect leaves and can be grown in flowerpots without staking.
When to Repot
Repotting should be carried out in the spring if possible, but it must not be undertaken until new growths and roots appear. The greenhouse must be shaded in summer but the shading should be removed as early in autumn as can be done with safety, so that the new growths are exposed fully, and thus become well “ripened.” At that season water must be given less frequently and can be withheld for a considerable period if the temperature does not exceed 55 degrees at night.
The chief kinds are: Brassavola Digbyana (Laelia Digbyana) from Honduras, distinguished by its flat, fleshy leaves, which, together with the bulbs, are covered with a starchy excretion; the slightly fragrant flowers, produced singly at various periods, are over 4 in. across, with narrow, greenish-white sepals and petals, and a cream-white lip, with heavily fringed margin. B. glauca (Laelia glauca) is a Mexican plant resembling B. Digbyana in habit of growth, although much smaller; the large fragrant flowers, which lack the characteristic fringe of B. Digbyana, are greenish-white, the lip sometimes sparsely spotted with red. B. fragrans, B. cucullata, B. Perrinii, B. lineata, and B. subulifolia, all have long cylindrical leaves and short spikes or stems bearing several white flowers in a cluster. B. nodosa, from tropical America, has white or greenish yellow flowers.