Broughtonia ortgiesiana 'Juan'

Broughtonia Culture

The Species

The Broughtonia species occur naturally in the northern Caribbean and the Bahamas. The genus Broughtonia is currently regarded as a genus of six species. Two of these Broughtonia sanguinea and Broughtonia negrilensis are endemic to Jamaica. Broughtonia cubensis and Broughtonia ortgiesiana are endemic to Cuba while Broughtonia lindenii is found in Cuba and the Bahamas. Broughtonia domingensis comes from Hispaniola (the is land comprised of Haiti & The Dominican Republic) and Mona Island . Persons who are not entirely familiar with these plants tend to confuse Broughtonia negrilensis, Broughtonia lindenii and Broughtonia domingensis. Similarly some individuals tend to confuse Broughtonia sanguinea and Cattleyopsis ortgiesiana even though there are entirely different species.

All of these species are found in fairly dry to very dry environments with plenty of light and good air movement (breezes). They are all epiphytic (growing on trees) and sometimes lithophytic (growing on rocks). Mostly they are found on small trees in the dry kimestone forests, typical of the coastal areas of the Caribbean islands. In some instances they are also found growing naturally on large trees in wet areas. In these areas the plants are to be found on the high branches where they receive high light intensities and are able to dry out rapidly after they receive rainfall. They all mainly occur at sea level thought some plants of these species are also found at elevations close to 2,000 feet.

For the most part they all prefer to be mounted on rafts tree fren root, cork, driftwood, coconut hysk or some similar material. They like to be exposed to high light intensities - 50% shade in the Tropics or about  2,500 - 3,500 foot candles of light.


Broughtonia hybrids such as those with Cattleya, Myrmecophyla, Laelia, etc., are normally very easy to grow and flower. These grow very well when potted but can also be grown mounted. Though less intolerant of overwatering than the species they are best grown and treated like a Cattleya.


In general these species do not usually do well - for most growers - when potted as they tend to keep the growing medium too wet. When allowed to dry out between waterings they will however thrive in pots. They are best mounted on rafts of tree fern root, cork or on hard-wood branches, like black mangrove (and always without the bark). When mounting the Broughtonias sanguinea, negrilensis and domingensis it is always recommended that all the roots be completely removed. Trim them as close to the rhizome as possible. Then fix the plant firmly to the medium using wire, panty-hose, etc., ensuring that it is firmly in place. The plant will produce new roots within a few weeks and secure itself firmly to the new mount. This treatment is recommended for plants that have been mounted for two or more years and   on which the backbulbs have started to die back. For the other species namely Bro. cubensis, Bro. ortgiesiana and Bro. lindenii heavy pruning of roots is not necessary. It is important however that any dead roots be removed prior to mounting or potting.

For potting these species we recommend a mixture of shredded tree fern root and charcoal or some similarly well drained and aerated medium.


Water well then allow the roots to dry out completely before watering again. These plants grow naturally in very arrid conditions and rot quickly when over-watered. Plants grown on cork require more frequent watering than those mounted on tree fren root. In the summer months in tropical areas these plants will need to be watered almost daily if mounted for optimal growth. Fertilize at least once weekly using an N.P.K. 20:20:20 or 20:10:20 mixture or similar at a rate of 1/2 teaspoonfull per gallon of water. Do not allow the fertilizer mixture to wet the flowers as this will damage the blooms.


Scale, mealy bug and spider mites are the main pests which affect the Broughtonias in the Tropics. In general they do not seem to tolerate the systemic insecticides very well. Malathion will damage flowers and flower spikes. 'Cygon 2E' (Dimethioate, Rogor) will often kill these plants. They seem to tolerate 'Diazinon' ('Basudin') well though this pesticide should not be applied in the very hot periods of the day. It is best applied either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

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Copyright 1996 - 2012
Claude W. Hamilton