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How to Grow Lycaste Orchid

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Lycaste is a genus of epiphytic or terrestrial orchids that bear long-lasting flowers that are often green but also pink, white, yellow, or brown. Flowers are large, triangular, waxy, and fragrant. Flowers are borne singly on leafless stems.

Lycastes are deciduous to some degree. Yellow-flowered species like Lycaste aromatica flower from leafless pseudobulbs. Evergreen types such as Lycaste skinneri retain their leaves at flowering.

Lycaste is a genus of about 45 species native to tropical Mexico, Central and South America and the West Indies.

Get to know Lycaste 

  • Plant type: Epiphytic and terrestrial orchids
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 12-15
  • Optimal growing temperature: day 75-80℉ (21-26℃), night 60℉ (16℃) deciduous species can tolerate temperatures to 95℉ (35℃)during the day and and as low as 50F (10℃) at night.
  • Height and width: 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) tall and wide
  • Flowers: Large, waxy, fragrant flowers, produced singly on leafless stems from the bases, are typically triangular in shape, with the sepals framing the smaller, cupped petals and 3-lobed lips. 
  • Bloom time: Spring to summer
  • Uses: Houseplant tropical garden
  • Common name: Lycaste
  • Botanical name: Lycaste
  • Family name: Orchidaceae
  • Origin: Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies. 
Sweet Scented Lycaste Orchid – Lycaste aromatic

Where to plant Lycaste 

  • Light: Grow Lycaste in bright light; sunlight should be filtered.
  • Soil: Grow Lycaste in containers of crushed bark or soilless potting mix, or grow epiphytically on bark slabs. 
  • Lycaste can be grown epiphytically on bark slabs.

When to plant Lycaste 

  • Set Lycaste outdoors any time of the year in tropical and subtropical regions.

Planting and spacing Lycaste 

  • Space Lycaste 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) apart.

How to water and feed Lycaste 

  • Water: Water Lycaste freely during the growing season, but keep the foliage dry. Keep Lycaste dry in winter. Lycaste should be given a very humid growing situation.
  • Feeding: Apply a balance liquid fertilizer at every third watering.

Lycaste care 

  •  In winter give Lycaste bright filtered light and keep the plant dry.

Lycaste pests and diseases 

  • Spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs may be troublesome. 

Lycaste propagation 

  • Divide Lycaste when plants overflow their containers, or remove and pot up backbulbs. 

Lycaste varieties to grow 

  • Lycaste aromatica. Epiphytic orchid; lance-shaped leaves, to 12-16 inches (30-40cm) long; cinnamon-scented flowers, 1 ½ -2 ½ inches (4-6cm) across, with deep golden to orange-yellow petals, yellowish green sepals, and lips with orange dots, bloom in abundance from winter to spring.
  • L. brevispatha, syn. L. candida. Epiphytic orchid. Lance-shaped leaves, to 20 inches long (50cm) long; flowers with light green sepals with reddish brown spots, brown-spotted white petals, and white lips suffused and spotted pink 4 inches (10cm) across; blooms fom winter to spring, produces an abundance of flowers.
  • L. candida. see L. brevispatha. 
  • L. cochleata is an impressive plant when in bloom. Flowers are 3 to 4 inches across, with yellowish green petals and yellowish gold columnar throats. 
  • L. cruenta. Epiphytic orchid. Lance-shaped leaves, to 18 inches (35cm) long; flowers 3 inches (8cm) across, with greenish yellow sepals, yellowish orange petals with red spots near the bases, and orange lips with red spots and red triangular patches at the base; blooms in abundance from spring to summer; flowers are faintly cinnamon-scented flowers. 
  • L. deppei. Epiphytic orchid. Lance shaped leaves, 12-20 inches (30-50cm) long; 3 ½ in (9cm) across. with green sepals spotted red-brown, white petals flecked red-brown at the bases, and red-spotted, deep yellow lips, striped and dotted red at the bases; blooms from spring to summer. 
  • L. gigantea. see L. longipetala. 
  • L. longipetala, syn. L. gigantea. Epiphytic orchid. Lance-shaped leaves, to 24 inches (60cm) long; bears large, fleshy flowers, to 6 inches (15cm) across, with pale green sepals suffused brown, darker green petals, and red-brown lips with light orange margins; the flowers do not open fully. 
  • L. skinneri, syn. L. virginalis (Nun orchid). Epiphytic orchid. Lance-shaped leaves, 20-24 inches (50-60cm) long; flowers 5-6 inches (12-15cm) across, with cream sepals shaded white through lavender-pink to pink, reddish purple petals, and pink lips sometimes mottled purple; blooms from winter to spring, produces.
  • L. virginalis. see L. skinneri. Grows to 2 ½ feet. Its flowers—white spotted with rose, or pink spotted with red—bloom during winter.
  • L. Wyldfire (L. Balliae x L. Wyld Court). Epiphytic orchid. Lance-shaped leaves, 16 inches (40cm) long; deep wine-red flowers, 5 inches (13cm) across, with darker lips; blooms In spring. 

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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