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Brassia caudata

A medium-sized, epiphytic orchid with elliptic, dark green leathery leaves up to 30cm long and 2.5-8cm wide. Pseudobulbs are up to 14cm long and 3.5cm wide, flattened with sharp edges, bearing a pair of leaves at the tip. Flowering in autumn and spring, on 45cm long, arching stems, carrying up to 20 flowers. Each flower is 3.5cm wide and 15cm long. Petals and sepals are long and narrow, yellow with darker brown markings. The distinct shape of flowers has evolved to mimic spiders to attract wasp species conducive to successful pollination.

Size
Ultimate height
0.1–0.5 metres
Time to ultimate height
5–10 years
Ultimate spread
0.5–1 metres
Growing conditions
Moisture
Well–drained
pH
Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring White Yellow Green Green
Summer Green
Autumn White Yellow Green Green
Winter Green
Position
  • Partial shade
Aspect

East–facing or North–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Hardiness
H1B
Botanical details
Family
Orchidaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Evergreen
Habit
Clump forming
Genus

Brassia are small to very large epiphytic orchids with ovoid to cylindrical pseudobulbs, each bearing 1-3 strap-shaped leaves and often showy flowers in racemes of up to 12 spider-like fragrant flowers from the bases of the pseudobulbs

Name status

Correct

Plant range
S US to Brazil

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How to grow

Cultivation

Grow in an open bark-based orchid compost with addition of perlite, sphagnum moss or coir. Provide enough bright filtered light, but keep away from direct sunlight or a heating source. Ideal temperatures are around 15°C minimum at night and up to maximum 25 °C during day. Water regularly, when the pot feels light when lifted. Ensure that all water drains away, preventing the plant sitting wet. Orchid fertiliser can be applied regularly throughout the growing season. Reduce watering and feeding in winter months. The orchid will naturally produce aerial roots, growing outside of the pot. As with many orchids, they grow best when well-established and slightly pot-bound. Re-potting should be only done if the plant overgrows its container or before the potting mix starts to deteriorate - approximately once in 2-3 years.

Propagation

Mature plants may be divided when the plant overgrows its container. Each division should have at least 3 older pseudobulbs with a sufficient amount of stored energy and water, to support new growth and reduce stress after repotting.

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Conservatory and greenhouse
Pruning

No pruning required

Pests

May be susceptible to mealybugs, aphids and scale insects.

Diseases

Generally disease-free.

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