The orchid genus Brassavola contains around 20 species. These star-shaped orchids are abundant in the flat plains of Central America and tropical South America.
The plants grow on top of other plants as epiphytes, but they do not rely on them for nutrition or water. They get their nutrients from the air instead.
They are easy to grow and produce the most beautiful flowers in the fall and winter. The typical flower has a large lip, small petals, and spear-shaped sepals. Although the blossoms themselves are small, they come in abundance.
Brassavola orchids are easy to grow and ideal for novice gardeners.
1. B. grandiflora
The “Lady of the Night” orchid is native to Central America’s Pacific coast. It is widespread from Colombia to Mexico. This plant has large, wide leaves that are flat and spread out. The flower spikes grow from a sheath that attaches to a branch at the base of the leaf.
The blossoms are big, averaging 4 to 5 inches in diameter. They last for two to three months and have a strong fragrance overnight. This explains the orchid’s common name.
2. B. cucullata
B.cucullata has spidery flowers with cream-white and yellow-green petals and a serrated lip. Because of its distinctive long, slender leaves, it is known as the “daddy long legs” orchid.
This is a low-elevation tropical plant growing in temperatures ranging from 55° to 60° F at night and 70° to 85° F during the day.
The orchid produces flowers that look the same no matter where it grows. It blooms from late summer to early winter. While most blossoms are white, some have golden or scarlet petals and sepals.
3. B. cordata
B. cordata, also known as B. subulifolia, is a beautiful orchid native to Jamaica. It’s a resilient plant that thrives in hot weather and direct sunlight.
Each inflorescence can develop up to six 2-inch-wide flowers with a zesty fragrance. It blooms twice a year, but its densely packed 6 to 20 flowers are smaller than those of other species.
This lovely epiphyte has pencil-like bulbs and single curled terete leaves that grow to about 15 inches. It will produce several new growths, all of which mature at the same time.
4. B. cebolleta
This orchid grows on high terrain in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil. Indoors, plant this orchid on a wooden surface that receives plenty of sunlight, water, and humidity.
The pseudobulbs are slender and pencil-like. They will produce two to three white flowers with a greenish hue and a light green or white lip. Sometimes, a crimson tint is visible on the underside of the flower petals.
The leaves are tall, terete, and drooping, resembling chives or onion leaves. They emerge from summer through fall and spring.
Once the pseudobulbs have developed, the plant requires less water and the watering frequency can be reduced.
5. B. acaulis
This medium-sized orchid thrives in temperatures ranging from mild to hot. It requires a lot of sunlight, high humidity, and good airflow. Under ideal conditions, it can grow to be quite large, up to 16 to 32 inches in length.
Interestingly, to thrive, this orchid must be placed on an oak or tree branch.
The thick cylindrical leaves of B. acaulis sprout from the rhizome. The lovely inflorescence blooms from late spring to early summer, producing up to five 3-inch flowers. The white lip is bordered by green sepals and petals.
6. B. nodosa
Brassavola nodosa is a hardy orchid native to Mexico and South America. This little epiphytic plant lives in low-lying coastal woodlands and mangrove marshes.
When grown in full sun, the tips of the dense, compact leaves turn scarlet. Single-leaf pseudobulbs produce inflorescences with six to eight flowers.
This orchid requires direct sunlight, humidity, and temperatures above 65°F. It may not blossom if kept at temperatures below 55°F, so choose this variety only if you can provide the proper growing conditions.