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Brassolaeliocattleya plants belong to the Orchidaceae, or orchid, family. Brassolaeliocattleya is one of the complex hybrids, called a trigeneric hybrid genus. It is a cross of the three genera, Brassavola, Laelia, and Catteya. For example, Brassolaeliocattleya Memoria Vida Lee 'Limelight' is a cross between Brassocattleya Binosa and Laeliocattleya Brazilian Treasure. The genus consists of several hundred evergreen, epiphytic orchids derived from species native to Central and South America.
An epiphytic plant, such as this type of orchid, grows on top of another plant or uses it for support, but the epiphytic plant does not depend on the host plant for nutrition. Typically, Brassolaeliocattleya orchids have thickened, club-shaped pseudobulbs, which are growths at the base of the stem where the plant stores nutrients and water. The plants have one or two semi-rigid, oblong to oblong lance-shaped leathery leaves. The colorful, fragrant flowers grow in short inflorescences arising from sheathes at the pseudobulbs.
The flower sections of orchid blooms usually have three petal-like sepals and two petals. The distinctive funnel-shaped labellum, or lip, is a modified petal. Often these three sections bear similar patterns and colors, but sometimes they are differently colored, adding to the beauty.
Brassolaeliocattleya orchids vary greatly in color, bloom time, and flower appearance. The solid gold color of the B. Guess What 'Doubloon', combined with its wide petals and sepals, makes it resemble an exotic daffodil. It generally blooms in February. In contrast, B. Owen Holmes 'Cloud Forest' sports a deep purplish red flower that has broad petals backed by narrow sepals and blooms in autumn.
Orchid breeders regularly attempt to breed newer, more dramatic flowers. The B. Memoria Vida Lee 'Limelight' has very narrow light to mid-green tepals, which provide a backdrop for the large, dramatic purple lip. These orchid blooms may be up to 4 inches (about 10 cm) across. Another showy orchid, B. Haw Yuan Beauty 'Hong,' has cream and magenta striped petals with a bright yellow accent on the lip.
B. Chia Lin 'Red Rose' may be planted outdoors in regions where it is hardy. It is a winter bloomer that usually delights gardeners with its pure red blooms. Many of the Brassolaeliocattleya orchids are temperature tolerant. Where the plants are not hardy, growers may grow them in pots in the garden and take them indoors during the cold season. Usually growers raise the orchids indoors.
Orchids need mycorrhizal fungus to germinate the seeds. Collectors normally buy established plants. Each plant must retain at least three healthy pseudobulbs. Experienced growers may grow them from stem cuttings that are about 3 inches (8 cm) long with at least one dormant bud. There is much information available on the Internet and in gardening books on raising and propagating orchids.
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