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LAELIA gouldiana

Image of Laelia gouldiana

Michael Charters, www.calflora.net

Family

Orchidaceae

Botanical Name

LAELIA gouldiana

Plant Common Name

Laelia, Orchid

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Long-lasting, brightly lavender-fuchsia and starry in shape, the autumnal blooms of Laelia gouldiana are among the showiest to behold, also being mildly fragrant. Hailing from the mountains of Mexican state of Hildalgo, this small clumping tender evergreen orchid needs cool winter temperatures during its dormancy. It is an epiphyte (living on another plant). Because of its need for winter chill, it is a popular companion for Cymbidium orchids, which have a similar need.

The pseudobulbs of this orchid bear two to three long leaves that are leathery and medium to light green. Actively in growth (both leaf and root) from spring through autumn, the clumping plant sends up tall, thin stems in autumn that are topped with up to ten flower buds. Each opens to a wide-segmented star-like flower, lilac-fuchsia to magenta-pink, with a darker lip that has a white throat with dark veins. These blossoms are long-lasting. After flowering, the plant slides into a cool winter dormancy.

Grow Laelia gouldiana in partial sun to partial shade that mimics the changing broken light it would naturally receive if growing on trees in an oak and pine forest. It does not grow in soil; place in a heavy pot with coarse bark that drains water efficiently or mount upon a tree or palm or hanging slab of cork bark. Water it frequently in the warmth from spring to fall, allow to become much drier in winter when it should be exposed to cool temps, it's tolerant down to the freezing point. Higher humidity and good air circulation are important when it is in active growth, too. When very hot in summer, increase shading and humidity for certain. Consider repotting this orchid only after it is overly rambling over the pot edges or the bark is degraded and fine, and then only after flowering is done and just prior to new root growth begins in mid-spring.

The flowers can be cut and used as a table decoration, leis, hair decals. If grown as a houseplant, it needs very bright light and is well suited to a cool sun room in winter. It will, in time, become a dense specimen plant which will display many more short stems topped with fragrant starry flowers. Overall it is a very tolerant orchid of a wide range of temperatures, which makes it popular among a wide array of plant enthusiasts.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    11 - 7

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Epiphyte

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    10"-14" / 25.4cm - 35.6cm

  • Width

    14"-18" / 35.6cm - 45.7cm

  • Bloom Time

    Fall, Late Fall, Early Winter, Winter

  • Native To

    Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Hot Pink, Magenta, Fuchsia, Lavender

  • Fruit Color

    Light Green, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Light Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Hanging Basket, Houseplant, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No