Had a talk from Tom Biggart of Granite Hills Orchids in El Cajon, California on the Rupiculous (Rupicolus?) Laelia group. Very interesting bunch of little charmers. They grow in sandy soil and debris in the cracks of Brazilian rock formations. Not true terrestrials, nor lithophytes and certainly not epiphytes but a combination of the first two.
He grows them under 30% shade cloth in the blazing heat of El Cajon, outside Summer and Winter (30F - 105F) in unique potting conditions. Using clay pots he fills the bottom to within 2 1/2" of the top with 1/2" crushed granite. Then a thin layer of sphagnum moss topped with sandy soil. For that he mixes potting soil and sand 50/50. The plant is in that soil. The moss keeps the soil from washing out the bottom. In order to keep the soil from blowing or washing away from the top he places a layer of smaller rocks on top.
I won 4 of these thing with $15 worth of raffle tickets including Laelia milleri which is supposed to be a stunner with intense red flowers. Jay Phal calls L milleri a lithophyte ( http://www.orchidspecies.com/lmilleri.htm ) but Tom warns that they will not grow well on rock alone. They need the sandy debris which accumulates in the cracks of the rocks and he had beautiful pictures of them growing in nature illustrating this point.
I have some 30% Aluminet left over so will create an area for these little buggers today. He plans to sell at a show in January and will place an order for Brazilian orchids from Eco Orchideas, Sao Paulo, Brazil prior to then. A price list will be made available and a 30% reduction of stated price is likely.
I plan to get some more of these interesting plants if the ones I have do well. If anyone wants some, contact him, he seems eager to spread the interest in this group of plants and I'm sure they can be pre-ordered for January. He provided us with a list of 49 species, all labeled Laelias, but warned that nomenclature can be confusing as some are officially called Cattleyas and some have been completely renamed recently.
Any one growing these? Stitz?