Encyclia is a genus of lovely beautiful orchids from tropical America, closely related to genus Cattleya. Encyclia can cross with Cattleya, Laleia, Epidendrum and other orchids of the Laelinae clade. Encyclia orchids are epiphytes, which grow in forests with dry seasons. They are sympodial orchids with usually spherical or ovoid pseudobulbs and succulent leaves which are a part of adaptation to their native climate – high air humidity with some months completely lack any precipitation. There are about 160 species. Most of the species do not have a big value as decorative plants, but some of them definitely do.
Encyclia’s flowers are lovely and may come in different colors, shapes, many of them are fairly scented, for instance, pink-flowered cultivars of Encyclia cordigera have lovely roses scent, Encyclia fragrans smells like a mix of honey and vanilla, Encyclia osmantha smells like grapes. Some species have unusual-looking upside down flowers with lips pointing up, resembling octopus such as famous Encyclia cochleata, also known as Cockleshell Orchid or Clamshell Orchid, or Black Orchid in Belize, where it is a national flower, Encyclia radiata and spicy-flavored Encyclia garciana. Because they have an ability to hybridize with other Cattleya Alliance orchids, they are extensively used in complex hybrids creation, especially lovely fairly scented Encyclia tampensis and Encyclia cordigera.
Encyclia orchid care
What’s about Encyclia orchid care? Most Encyclia orchids are suitable for indoor growing and are rather easy to grow, some of them such as Encyclia cochleata are popular houseplants and some of its cultivars (such as “Octopussy”) are rather often sold at local plant shops. Encyclia orchids prefer cool to warm temperatures, some of them prefer warm to hot, but most of them go fairly well with intermediate temperatures. Delicate-leaved species prefer half-shade, whereas species with thick strong leaves need Cattleya-like levels of light. What’s about a potting mixture? It depends on which species you grow, but there is general instruction, regarding potting mixture particle size. Thin-rooted species with delicate plant habitus need more medium to small sized bark pieces in a potting mixture, whereas thick-rooted species prefer to be potted to more large bark pieces, anyway potting mixture for best Encyclia orchid growing should be open and well-drained and should not contain elements with high water capacity. Watering should be only after a potting mixture is fully dry. Most species (especially small and medium sized) do best mounted to slabs.
Let’s say a few words about several species specifically. Encyclia mariane is a cool-requiring orchid. This is a dwarf orcid (15 cm in high) but has large blossoms (10 cm across). It blooms in late spring. Flowers come from pseudobulbs of a previous year. This plant needs a deep dormancy period in a winter and limited watering in a summer. Encyclia atropurpurea has pear-like pseudobulbs with narrow leaves. This is rather a warm-requiring orchid. Encyclia citrina should be grown mounted to slabs because of its growth habit. It does well in moderate temperature range although by geographical reasons it is related with “cool” species (in nature it grows in mountains up to 3000 m).
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