Another of our Best in Class orchids at the Devon Show last weekend was this fragrant Lycaste aromatica.
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 December 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.
When handling Lycstae aromatica it is worth remembering that each pseudobulb is topped with two razor sharp spines left by the falling leaves.
The species enjoys our Warm Americas section with a winter minimum of 15C and from now on will need more and more water for the fast growing new growths.