Continuing our fragrant orchid theme for May we have an orchid who’s name says it all. Lycaste aromatica has a very pungent spicy aroma and flowers in profusion from its leafless bulbs every spring.
Lycaste aromatica is native to Mexico and Central America where it grows as an epiphyte of lithophyte in semi-deciduous forest. It uses its powerful scent to attract euglossine bees (perfume gathering bees) and in common with many plants adopting this strategy has fairly short lived flowers (a couple of weeks).
The native habitat experiences a marked dry season and so the species drops all its leaves in November and remains leafless until April or May. We reduce watering to almost none while there are no leaves but in the summer once growth is underway we water heavily to support the rapidly growing lush leaves. We find that having a couple of shelves in the greenhouse especially for orchids with reduced water is a very useful thing.
It suits our temperatures in Warm Americas with a winter minimum of 15C