Brassavola Nodosa

Brassavola Nodosa

  • Common name:  Brassavola Orchid
  • Origin:  Central and South America
  • Orchid type : Epiphyte
  • Flowering:  All year round
  • Location:  Intense lighting
  • Watering:  Once a week in pot
  • Humidity:  High 40% -70%
  • Level of difficulty:  Low

Brassavola orchids are a very small group of orchids, which groups 18 different species, before they were 20 but two of them have recently been reclassified. 

They are epiphytes (orchids that grow on top of other plants like trees). Some types of Brassavola orchid are lithophytes, they feed on moss, nutrients in rainwater, remains of other plants and even their own dead tissue.

The flowers grow as a single bud or cluster at the top. The leaves of this orchid are large. They grow in an elongated bulb from the stem of the plant and function as a means to store water and nutrients.

brassavola nodosa

The flowers usually measure between 2.5 and 12 centimeters in diameter, and vary in colors from a greenish white to a yellow with brown spots. To attract the appropriate moth for pollination, the orchid Brassavolas produces citrus odors in the afternoon.

This species is generally a beginner level orchid in terms of its difficulty in cultivating


This is mainly because they are more drought tolerant than many species.

Brassavola are fast-growing orchids and will soon start producing more leaves and consequently more flowers.

They receive the name of orchids Brassavola in honor of Antonio Musa Brassavola,although it was not their discoverer. This genus of orchids was described by Robert Brown, Scottish physician, surgeon and botanist. 
As a curiosity, the Brassavola Digbyana orchid is the national flower of Honduras , which until recently belonged to this group, and which has recently been reclassified as Rhynchoalelia Digbyana.
The Rhynchoalelia are a new genus of orchids, which originally belonged to the Brassavola. At the moment it only has two species, the Rhynchoalelia Digbyana and the Rhynchoalelia Glauca.


  • 1 Characteristics of the Brassavola orchid
  • 2 Care of orchids Brassavola
    • 2.1 Lighting needs
    • 2.2 Temperature
    • 2.3 Humidity. Irrigation tips for Brassavola orchids
    • 2.4 Fertilizers and Nutrients
    • 2.5 Cultivation of Brassavola orchids
  • 3 Images and photos of the Brassavola orchid

Characteristics of the Brassavola orchid

Brassavola orchids are epiphytes for the most part , although a few specimens fructify as lithophytic orchids. 
They are endemic to South America, and the lowlands of Central America and the tropical zone of Mexico.

  • They have pseudobulbs that measure between 6 and 30 centimeters in length. They are narrower than the pseudobulbs of other species of epiphytic orchids, so their leaves sometimes appear to be born directly from the rhizome.
  • From each rhizome a leaf about 20 centimeters long is born. They have a tubular shape, although sometimes they can be seen unrolled.
  • This family of orchids bears a strong resemblance to the Cattleya , from which multiple hybrids have been created. Its flowers are quite smaller, than those of the Cattleya
  • Its flowers can appear alone or forming small clusters. They are fragrant at nightfall, and their perfume reminds of citrus.
  • One of the best-known varieties, the Brassavola Nodosa, is known as the “lady at night”, precisely because of its special perfume.
  • The color of Brassavola orchids is white , but in the market there are multiple hybrids and we can find flowers in a very wide range of colors, ranging from white to light yellow with spots.
  • It depends on the varieties, the flowers can appear at the end of short and erect stems, or fall from flexible stems like pendulums.
  • The size of the flowers also varies considerably from one variety to another, measuring the smallest about 2.5 cm, for the largest reach 12 centimeters.
  • The typical flower has an enlarged lip in the shape of a spoon, with narrow petals and sepals in the shape of a spear.

Care of orchids Brassavola

The Brassavola are orchids considered easy to grow for beginners, especially because they are a variety that endures drought very well. 
They grow quickly, producing a great variety of leaves and flowers. It is one of the few orchids that have a lasting flowering, and also offer multiple blooms throughout the year . 
Some specimens under certain conditions are able to bloom throughout the year.

Lighting needs

  • They are plants that require strong lighting , they can even withstand some direct sunlight, provided it is not midday.
  • They will be perfect in a window facing south, receiving the filtered light.
  • We can detect that the orchid is receiving the light it needs, if we look at its leaves. Under ideal lighting conditions, the leaves have a medium green and have reddish flecks.
  • If the plant does not receive the light it needs, its leaves will look dark green.

The Brassavola orchid has light preferences similar to the Cattleya orchids.

Bright light but little direct sun.

Watch the movement of the air, this aspect is important when taking care of all orchid species.

It is convenient that there is good ventilation if they are grown indoors.

The Brassavola orchid usually prefers a strong light, bright light and even a certain amount of direct sunlight.

A healthy Brassavola has mottled leaves, with some slight reddish marks on the leaves.

The leaves that are deep green means that the plant is not getting enough light.

If it is grown at home, it is best to put it in a window facing south.


The ideal temperature for Brassavola orchids is between 15ºC and 18ºC. 
They are tropical orchids, so moderate to warm temperatures are the best for them to grow and flourish more profusely. 
This type of orchid prefers medium and warm temperatures. Although they can be grown well with a medium temperature they will bloom much better with a warm temperature.

Humidity. Irrigation tips for Brassavola orchids

The little need for water from these orchids is understood if we study their leaves, specially designed to reduce perspiration. 
As with most orchids, the quantity and distribution of the waterings depends on the time of year and the way of cultivation. 
In a pot they can be watered once a week during the growing season, and they will have more than enough. If the cultivation of the orchid is done in a basket, you will need several weekly irrigations. 
As a precaution watch the leaves, if you see that they wrinkle or fall, is that the amount of water is not correct and you have to water more. 
In terms of humidity, they need to be high, between 40% and 70%.To avoid the appearance of fungi, the place should be well ventilated. The best time to water is in the morning, and with warm water.

You have to water them frequently while the plant is in bloom, but prefer a dryer substrate later. The Brassavola tubular sheets are designed to reduce water transpiration, making them more tolerant to drought than other orchids. In short, plants need less moisture and water than other epiphytic orchids. Like all orchids, the frequency of irrigation depends on its cultivation. Brassavola orchids mounted in baskets can be watered several times a week during the growth cycle, while those sown in pots should be watered thoroughly weekly. Fallen or wrinkled leaves indicate that they do not have water and you should water the plant as soon as possible.

Nutrients and Fertilizers

The fertilization of the Brassavola orchids differs a little from other varieties, due to the fact that they are orchids that are constantly growing and flowering. 
While in other orchids, we differentiate between the process of growth and flowering, with different contributions of phosphorus and potassium, in the Brassavola it is best to use a balanced fertilizer, 20-20-20. 
It is not advisable to abuse the fertilizer, and for the amount it is advisable to review the manufacturer’s advice. As a rule, the application should be rather light, once a week or every two weeks, depending on the concentration of mineral salts. 
The fertilizer must always be with irrigation, to avoid the accumulation of salts in the roots, no orchid supports it.

Brassavola orchids in good health create several bulbs with several leaves throughout the year. As a result, the plant must be fed all year round with a weak fertilizer solution (1/4 mixture).

Many growers are using fertilizer balls that have become fashionable lately. They are tied to the base of the plant in contact with the substrate so that each time we water the plant part of the fertilizer is released, thus providing a small dose. These nylon balls with fertilizer last a few months.

Cultivation of Brassavola orchids

These orchids fructify very well in hanging baskets, but they will also develop perfectly in pots. 
We can use all kinds of pots, there is no problem in using clay or terracotta pots, except for the difficulty of transplanting. 
As for the substrate, they will grow well in a substrate that combines pine bark, with balls of clay or perlite and vegetable charcoal. 
We will do the transplant when we check that the roots have completely colonized the pot, every two or three years. 
It is not advisable to use an excessively large pot , with two or three centimeters of larger diameter, it is enough. 
In the transplantWe will use it to divide the pseudobulbs and obtain new orchids.

Transplant, Propagation and Repotting

The Brassavola orchid adapts well to baskets. Those that are grown in this way can grow quickly in their original basket and form a large plant that will completely cover the original basket.

It is best not to bother changing or replanting a larger basket. Take divisions of the plant (bulb next to its root) and plant them in other baskets, with this it will rapidly increase the number of plants.

If you have the Brassavola sown in pots, use a standard mix of fast-draining substrate, such as clay pellet compounds, charcoal or pine bark chips. It needs a little air around its roots. It is best mounted on cork or coconut, but it also does well using bark in clay pots.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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