Cutflower Nomenclature

Scientific/Botanical Name:

Genus: Brassia



English Name:


Common Name:

spider orchid

Botanical Family:

Name in Latin: Orchidaceae

Name in English: The Orchid Family

The Plant

Origin: South Florida, the West-Indies and tropical America, in wet forests from sea level to altitudes under 1500 m, with the Peruvian Andes as its center

Growth Habit: epiphytic, large elliptic-oblong pseudo bulbs

Flower: many-flowered inflorescences with small floral bracts. The lip is not attached to the column. The pollinarium shows a narrow stipe. There are two distichous, foliaceous sheaths around the base, from which the inflorescence emerges.

Blooming Period:

Leaf: one or two leaves at the apex, lateral, unbranched


Ornamental Plant

Care and Handling

Soil: mix of sphagnum moss, charcoal, perlite, and coarse grade bark.

Amount of water: To mimic a torrential rain you will need to water thoroughly until all the media is soaked. If growing in a pot you can soak the pot in water for 15 minutes allowing the potting media to absorb the water. It is very important that there is not standing water in the pot as Brassia are highly susceptible to root rot.

Nutrition: A balanced fertilizer will work best for Brassia. I propose that you use what is called a weak weekly approach to fertilizing orchids. In this case you would follow the instructions on the fertilizer package except make the solution at quarter strength. Fertilize only after watering and fertilize three weeks out of four. The fourth week use regular in order to keep the minerals from the fertilizer from building up on the potting medium. During the winter or cool months when the plant is resting only water every other week and do not fertilize.

Special handling: plant needs to be divided because new pseudo bulbs will grow each year.

Special feature/remarks:

The Brassia orchids rely on wasps of the genera Campsomeris and Pepsis for pollination. The female wasps from these two genera hunt spiders, and the Brassia orchids use mimicry to trick them into believing that a part of the orchid flower is a delicious spider. The wasp will sting the lip while trying to grasp what she thinks is a spider, touch the pollinarium, and consequently get pollen all over her head. When the wasp is lured into another Brassia orchid flower, pollination will take place.

A majority of the orchid species from the genus Brassia will do best when they are provided with cool nights and warmer days. Do not let the night temperature drop below 55-60 degrees F (13-16 degrees C).