Laelia Orchids, The Mayflower Orchid

Laelia Orchids, The Mayflower Orchid

Laelia orchid plants hail from the beautiful regions of Mexico and Brazil. This orchid genus is closely related to the Cattleya orchids. Learn all about its orchid species, flower meaning, and orchid care tips.

Laelia Orchids Fast Facts

Botanical Name: Laelia (lay-LEE-uh)
Abbreviation in horticulture: L.
The etymology of the orchid genus name: According to the American Orchid Society, Laelia could be one of the fair Vestal Virgins from Greek Mythology
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe:  Epidendreae
Subtribe: Laeliinae
Number of recognized species: 23 unique orchid species
Type species: Laelia speciosa (Kunth) Schltr. 1914
Origin/Distribution: Mexico, West Indies, and Brazil
Growing classification: Epiphytic orchids
Blooming season: Autumn to Winter
Flower colors: White with pink, blue-violet, purple
Skill level: Recommended for beginner level orchid growers
Must-try introductory orchids: L.briegeri, L.lucasiana, L.milleri, L.sincorana, L. anceps

About Laelia Orchids

A once big and diverse orchid genus, Laelia orchids naturally hail from the tropical parts of Mexico, West Indies, all the way to Brazil. In their natural habitat, these types of orchids can be found in dry areas vulnerable to frost and from up the mountains. Depending on the orchid species and origin, Laelia orchids can be either warm or cool-growing orchids.

They are, however, predominantly, epiphytic in nature. They bloom in the autumn to the winter season and may be unable to rebloom after that. They produce beautiful blooms in creamy white with hints of pink, purple, and blue. Depending on the type of orchids, Laelia can have from four up to 12 new flowers per each stem.

7 Divisions of Laelia Orchids

It was originally classified by the iconic English botanist, John Lindley, in 1832 While the true etymology of this orchid name remains a mystery, many theorize that Lindley named it after one of the Vestal Virgins from Greek mythology as an ode to its fairness. Eventually, it was revised by German botanist Rudolf Schlechter in 1917, who narrowed down the Laelia orchid genus is grouped into seven different sections or divisions:

  • Cattleyodes
  • Hadrolaelia
  • Laelia
  • Microlaelia
  • Cyrtolaelia
  • Podolaelia
  • Calolaelia

According to the American Orchid Society, the World Monocot Checklist currently recognizes officially only 23 unique orchid species in the Laelia genus. But there are supposedly 70 unofficial orchid species that are most likely from this orchid genus, too.

What Are the Easiest Laelia Orchids for Beginners?

Based on our research, orchid lovers swear by that these are some of the kindest and least demanding orchid species to grow and maintain if you want to give Laelia orchids a shot.

  • L.briegeri
  • L.lucasiana
  • L.milleri
  • L.sincorana
  • L. anceps

Orchid Care: How to Maintain Laelia Orchids

How much light does your orchid need?

Similar to its orchid cousin Cattleya, Laelia needs sufficient indirect exposure to bright light ranging anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 foot-candles. 

Can I keep my orchids outside to get more sunshine?
While it is true that sunlight is vital for orchids to bloom prettily and prolifically, do not forget that direct heat and intense light can be detrimental for them. Just like people, orchids can get a sunburn. Yellowing leaves and toasted, browning blooms are all clear indicators of overexposure. 

How much water and humidity should I give my orchid?
Lucky for you, Laelia orchids are not particularly sensitive when it comes to humidity. As a general rule of thumb, water generously during spring and summer. Space out watering sessions with more days than usual come autumn and winter season. You don’t want to rot the roots of your Laelia orchids by overwatering during its dormant stage.

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