Lycaste Orchid

The Lycaste Orchid is native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. It is also the national flower of Guatemala with its stunning beauty and vivid colors.


Lycaste with yellow flowers

The Lycaste Orchid was named after the daughter of Priam who was the king of Troy and they are found in South and Central America where there is sufficient cloud cover, high humidity and the normal temperatures are moderate to cool.

In total there are around 30 different species of Lycaste Orchid and many of these are hardy and easily obtainable. Due to their location they are used to high levels of moisture in the air but there is a level of diversity as the Lycaste Orchids are split into four different subgroups with the two common subgroups being Deciduosae and Macrophyllae.

The main difference is the way in which they behave during the dormant period during winter. The Deciduosae plants lose their leaves and regain them every season whilst Macrophyllaes keep theirs during dormancy.

Foliage: The Lycaste Orchid produces a waxy flower that is long lasting and it is known for its round shaped pseudobulbs and broad pleated leaves. Over time the pseudobulbs of the Lycaste Orchid become wrinkled and the leaves often last for around 2 years before dropping off when the plant blooms.

Flowering: The Lycaste has flowers that are medium sized and around 2-3 inches in size and they come in a number of different colors with amazing fragrances such as lemon scents and cinnamon with many blooming on pseudobulbs that have no leaves. Some have green colored sepals, yellow petals and orange lips and when it comes to bloom it is often seen that the Lycaste blooms in spring although they have been known to bloom during mid to late summer.


Origin: Central and South America.
Names: Lycaste (genus).
Max Growth (approx): 18in tall.
Poisonous for pets: Non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Lycaste with purple flowers

Lycaste Orchid Care

Temperature: The Lycaste Orchid likes a warm temperature of between 60 - 85°F (15.5 - 30°C) whilst the evening temperature should be around 55 - 60°F (13 - 15.5°C).
Light: It is recommended that light is filtered indirectly as direct sun could cause the leaves to burn whilst not enough light will cause a reduction in the number of flowers that bloom. The leaves should remain a bright green.
Watering: As the Lycaste Orchid should be grown in a sphagnum moss or even a mixture of fir bark and perlite it should be kept moist as the roots could die. For the more mature plants they should near dryness, especially from the time of blooming until new growth emerges. The group of deciduous Lycaste should dry out a little more.
Soil: These orchids prefer a soil that consists of Sphagnum moss or fine fir bark and perlite. Including peat in the soil mixture will aid the retention of water.
Re-Potting: Re-potting should take place each year following bloom when the plant’s new growth is around 3-6 inches in height. This is usually done during the early spring through to the early summer but it should not take place during the warm summer months. Before potting ensure that the old potting mix is removed from the roots whilst also removing dead roots.
Fertilizer: These plants should be given a fertilizer that is balanced at half strength during every other watering.
Humidity: This is something an Orchid most definitely craves, Humidity. Ideal levels are between 60 - 80%. Misting the leaves will help improve the humidity. Too much can cause mold on leaves though.
Propagation: Following the flowering of the plant, divide an offshoot that has a good root system and pot each one individually.

Potential Problems

  • Yellow Leaves - This can indicate that the plant is receiving too much light.
  • Dark Green Leaves - This indicates that the plant is not receiving enough light.

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