Jennifer Schultz Nelson
Extension Educator, Horticulture
Brassocattleya Maikai 'Mayumi'
(Brassavola nodosa x Cattleya bowringiana)
Nature never ceases to amaze me. Last winter the orchid club I belong to purchased a large Brassocattleya Maikai 'Mayumi' to divide as an orchid propagation exercise. It was a magnificent orchid plant, covered with flower buds. Horticulturally speaking, an orchid in bud should not be divided, unless you want all the flower buds to drop. This plant was happily growing, and here we were ready to hack it to bits in the name of plant propagation. I had my doubts.
The orchid was divided into small starts that each of us potted to take home and nurture. This was a whole new orchid world to me–I knew how to grow Phalaenopsis well, but had very little experience with other orchids. My sad -looking plant was staked and wired into the pot, top heavy and kept falling over.
Fellow club members assured me the wimpy looking piece of Brassocatleya would be fine. I took it home and placed it among the rest of my orchids, not hoping for much. There was a flower bud on my plant, but it soon turned yellow and died, which was what I expected. The care sheet said that this Brassocatleya liked temperature highs in the mid-90's and lows down to 50, way beyond what I could usually provide in my apartment.
What I didn't expect was for the yellowed flower bud to be replaced by two more growing on another stem. The little scrap of orchid produced beautiful sweet smelling pink flowers speckled with purple. The flowers lasted several weeks, and I figured it would be years before the plant ever flowered again. I watered and fertilized the plant the same way I did the rest of my collection, and it responded with vigorous growth. To my surprise recently, I noticed it was flowering again. The little Brassocattleya must be happier in my home than the care sheets predicted. Nature is amazing, isn't it?