Brassia orchids are epiphytic plants that can be found in some of the West Indian islands as well as some parts of America. Named after a prominent plant-life illustrator, the best thing about these odd-looking plants is probably the wonderful smell of their delicately fragranced blossoms.
The Brassia is nicknamed the Spider Orchid due to the characteristic shape of its flowers. Varieties come in pleasing pastel colours, accentuated with brown highlights which do make them look remarkably similar to their namesakes. Like virtually all orchids, members of this family are fairly easy to care for if you follow the tips below and try to accommodate for just a few simple requirements.
Pick a perfect pot
As with all orchids, the pot in which your Brassia is housed will have a huge effect on its well-being so choose wisely. Ideally, select a natural, porous material which will prevent the planting matter from becoming too waterlogged.
Good ventilation to the roots is also an important requirement so the container should have a well aerated base, possibly with slits in the sides too.
The planting matter should be of a type that is specifically formulated for orchids rather than just regular compost and will usually consist of many substances including bark and moss. You should be prepared to re-pot in fresh medium every two to three years to prevent root rot.
Get the illumination right
Making sure your plant gets adequate light is absolutely essential, but you need to remember that orchids are very prone to sunburn. Take care to protect them from direct, unfiltered sunshine by using a shade or curtain or simply just choosing your location wisely.
If providing enough illumination is an issue then think about relocating the Brassia or perhaps investing in a daylight simulating fluorescent lamp; fairly pricey but other plants may benefit from it too.
Turn up the temperature
Remember, these orchids originate from a tropical habitat so will need temperatures in the 65 to 75 degree range in order to survive indoors. Allowing a reduction in the overnight temperature to no less than 55 to 60 degrees will also be necessary. To encourage re-flowering, provide a similarly cool environment during the orchids resting period between early autumn and late winter.
Think before watering
Although this type does like a little more water than other varieties, you should still water sparingly and only after you have checked the dampness of the planting matter. Take care not to let this become over-desiccated; it should fell just damp to the touch before you re-hydrate.
Boost the humidity
This variety is used to steamy surroundings so create as much humidity as possible by positioning humidifiers or soaked pebbles close by. Placing the container on a stand over a tray of water is also an option as long as you ensure that the water does not seep into the pot and damage the roots.
Don’t forget the fertiliser
Brassias require more feeding than many other orchid varieties and your plant will benefit from being doused with a weak nitrogen based preparation every seven days. You can go a little easier on the fertiliser during the plant’s dormant stage.
Rest assured that it is actually quite difficult to kill an orchid through lack of attention as they pretty much like to be left to their own devices. Provided you get the fundamentals right, you should find the Brassia orchid to be a very low maintenance and a very unusual looking addition to your plant family.
Carl Harrison is an orchid enthusiast. For more great tips and advice on brassia orchids, visit http://www.theorchidresource.com