Brassavola orchids are perhaps best known for the sweet fragrance they release at night. In addition to the unique scent, these orchids are popular because their laid-back requirements make them a good choice for beginners. They don’t have the same diva-level needs that some other orchids require.
Even for an experienced orchid grower, Brassavolas are intriguing because they grow well on mounts and are a good option for someone looking to try mounted orchids for the first time.
Sound interesting? Keep reading to learn more about the Brassavola orchid and how to care for them.
How to Care for Brassavola Orchid
Brassavola orchids are considered perfect options for beginners because they are one of the easiest orchids to care for. Of course, you’ll still have to put some attention to your Brassavola if you want to be rewarded with year-round blooms.
Here’s what you need to know.
Brassavola orchids thrive in strong, bright light. While you might be used to hearing that you should never place orchids in direct sunlight, Brassavola can handle some direct sunlight without issues. If your Brassavola’s leaves turn deep green, then this is a sign that they are not getting enough light.
Temperature & Humidity
Most average home temperatures are suitable for Brassavola orchids. They prefer warm temperatures and cannot tolerate temperatures below 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They bloom better when kept in a warmer environment.
Brassavola can handle slightly less humid environments compared to other orchids. They are happy when humidity sits between 40 and 70 percent. While this is still higher than the humidity levels in most homes, 40 to 50 percent humidity is not too difficult. Consider using a humidifier or placing the orchids on a humidity tray (making sure the roots are not touching the water).
When to Water Brassavola Orchids
In addition to needing less humidity than most orchids, Brassavola also need a little less water than other orchids. Water Brassavola a few times a week during their growing periods. For potted Brassavola, thoroughly soak once a week during their growing periods, and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Decrease watering frequency when the plant is not growing, but check to make sure that you are not reducing water so much that the leaves begin to shrivel.
If you are growing Brassavola in a container, use a potting soil mix that is specifically for orchids. Make sure the mix contains materials that drain quickly; sphagnum moss, lava rock, and tree fern are all excellent materials for this purpose.
Brassavola orchids like soil that dries out between waterings. If too much water remains around their roots, they can easily get root rot. Consider adding Houseplant Smart Gravel to the bottom of your container to keep water from pooling up.
Learn more: The Best Soil for Orchids
In order to continue putting out new foliage and blooming year-round, Brassavola orchids need fertilizer. Use a diluted form of a balanced fertilizer throughout the year to ensure that your Brassavola is getting the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Consider using a spray formula like Premium Orchid Food. It’s easy to apply and gentle enough that you do not have to worry about accidentally burning your orchid’s roots.
Brassavola Orchid Propagation
Orchids are not the easiest flower to propagate. Unfortunately, the two most common methods of propagation, germinating seeds and taking cuttings, don’t work well for Brassavola. However, Brassavola orchids do produce a pseudobulb that can be divided into a separate plant.
Brassavola naturally produces pseudobulbs, so propagating from a pseudobulb is the best option. Pseudobulbs are pods produced at the base of an orchid stem.
Active pseudobulbs have stems and leaves growing from them. You can simply remove these pseudobulbs from the orchid, making sure to include the root mass, and place them in their own pot.
Dormant pseudobulbs will not have any stems or leaves, but they can still grow. If a dormant pseudobulb has a dormant growth bud, similar to an eye on a potato, then the dormant bulb will begin growing again when moved to its own pot.
Brassavola Orchid Flowers
Brassavola is pollinated by moths, so most varieties have white flowers as a result; a few might have colored spots. This is also why Brassavola produces its fragrance in the evening, unlike most other flowers. The sweet, citrus scent is overpowering for some, so you might not want this orchid near a bed.
In addition to a unique scent, Brassavola orchid flowers have a unique shape; they appear star- or heart-shaped.
With proper care, you can expect multiple flowers and flower spikes. Brassavola blooms year-round, so you should be able to enjoy this beauty multiple times throughout the year.
What do you do with an orchid flower spike?
Once an orchid flower has finished blooming, it will wilt and fall off. This is perfectly normal, and not something that you should be concerned about when it happens.
However, to encourage reblooming, you should take the time to trim flower spikes (using clean, sharp shears) after the bloom falls off.
If the spike is still green and healthy, then only trim it a small amount. Locate the node under the lowest bloom, and cut one inch below that node.
If the spike has turned brown and mushy, then cut back to the plant’s base.
If you are nervous about trimming the flower spikes because you’re afraid of accidentally cutting off nearby developing spikes, you can wait until the spike turns brown and crispy, then remove just that part which is clearly dead.
Your orchid may look a little unpleasant during this stage, but for beginners, this may be a better option than accidentally trimming flower spikes prematurely.
How to Repot Brassavola Orchids
Brassavola can quickly overtake a pot. You can choose to divide the Brassavola and plant the divisions in their own containers at that time. You don’t necessarily have to repot a Brassavola just because it outgrows the pot. However, you should repot when the material in the growing medium begins to break down and begins to hold on to too much water.
To repot, gently remove the orchid from the current pot. Trim any roots that are mushy or damaged. Place the Brassavola back into the same pot or into a new pot. Add new growing medium to the container.
Popular Brassavola Species
The most well-known Brassavola, Brassavola Nodosa is known as Lady of the Night due to the sweet fragrance it releases in the evening. Its large, heart-shaped petals are white but may have a purple or red spot on the inside.
Brassavola Little Stars
This popular hybrid is a cross of Nodosa and Cordata, and like Nodosa, Brassavola Little Stars releases a fragrance in the evening. Owners grow this variety in baskets rather than in pots because it does better in shallow containers.
Brassavola Yellow Bird
A hybrid of Brassavola and Cattleya, this orchid is distinct because, unlike most Brassavola, Brassavola Yellow Bird has yellow instead of white flowers. The Brassavola Yellow Bird retains the strong fragrance that is common to Brassavola.
Brassavola Cordata is a Jamaican Brassavola that does well on mounts. Although this variety is sometimes called Cordata, the correct name is actually Brassavola Subulifolia.
How to Mount Brassavola Orchids
In their natural habitat, most orchids grow clinging to a tree rather than in the ground, so growing orchids in a pot is very different from how they exist in the wild. Brassavola in particular grow well in mounts because they sometimes rapidly overtake pots.
Creating the right conditions for mounts in a home can be challenging. Unlike the natural environment, it can be difficult to keep water and humidity correct. Thankfully, Brassavola is forgiving and can handle some drought. They are easier to keep happy on a mount than most other types of orchids. In fact, some growers insist that Brassavola are much happier on a mount even in imperfect conditions than they are in pots.
Here’s what you need to mount Brassavola:
- Mount (usually cork)
- String or fishing line
- Sphagnum moss
- An orchid
Step 1: Select the mount.
Cork mounts are the most common way to mount orchids. Other options are tree branches, hardware cloths, or wood slat plaques. To start off, though, it’s easiest to begin with a cork mount.
Take into consideration how you will hang the mount. A cork mount can be hung like a picture frame. You may have to get creative to hang other options depending on your available space.
Step 2: Prepare the mount.
To begin, you should place sphagnum moss near your orchid’s roots. This will help the orchid transition to being mounted, but you can remove it once the orchid has adjusted.
Place the orchid against the mount so that it will be able to grow in an upward direction. Use the string or fishing line to secure the orchid to the mount. Other options, like cut-up pantyhose, can be used to secure the orchid just as well.
You can remove the string, fishing line, or other material once the orchid is securely attached to the mount on its own.
Step 3: Water frequently.
Mounted orchids need to be watered more frequently than orchids in a pot. You’ll likely need to water them every day; although they can go a few days without water, this puts unnecessary stress on the orchid.
Take the entire mount to the sink to water. Run the water over the orchid to ensure it gets the hydration it needs.
Some people choose to mist their mounted orchids every day instead of running water over them. While you can try this out, be aware that maintaining proper moisture levels this way can be tricky.
Common Problems With Brassavola Orchid
There are two common problems that arise with Brassavola orchids.
The first is that these orchids do not like their roots to remain wet. Overwatering can quickly cause root rot. One way to combat this problem is to make sure that you use a potting mix that drains quickly if you plant Brassavola in a container. Another way to solve this problem is to mount Brassavola—it’s almost impossible to overwater a mounted Brassavola.
The second problem with Brassavola is that they tend to outgrow their pots. You can solve this by dividing the plant when it gets too big or you can mount your Brassavola instead.
Brassavola Orchid Care FAQ
FAQ: Why are my Brasssavola’s leaves turning red?
Red foliage is a sign that your Brassavola is getting too much light. Brassavola needs more light than most orchids, but if the leaves begin turning red, move your plant to an area with a little less light before it gets too damaged. Too much light will burn orchids.
FAQ: Why is my Brassavola orchid losing leaves?
Any time there is a change in environment, expect Brassavola to lose some of its leaves. For example, if your plant has been outside during the summer months and you bring it inside for the winter, the plant will lose leaves as it adjusts to the new environment.
If there has not been a change to the environment, make sure you don’t overwater your plant and that your Brassavola is getting an adequate amount of light each day.
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