Stelis muscifera, “the fly-bearing Stelis“, is a miniature, warm- to cool-growing orchid species native to Central and South America. These plants form very dense clumps, and the tall flower spikes feature densely-packed dark reddish-purple flowers. I love the color of these flowers, and like most Stelis, the plants bloom easily at least once a year. If you keep these guys evenly moist and in low light, you will have a specimen-sized plant in a couple years.
The genus Stelis (subtribe Pleurothallidinae) is a diverse genus of pleurothallid alliance characterized by equal-sized sepals and highly reduced petals. The tri-lobed flowers occur in long inflorescences that vary in showiness among species. Prime blooming season is late winter to spring which is just in time for show season.
Most species are miniatures, and all grow like other pleurothallids, i.e., in low light and evenly moist. They grow very well in intermediate temperatures, and they are easy to bloom which makes them a favorite of mine. I find they grow well in pots because of their high moisture requirements, but if you have the conditions for it, they grow well mounted, too. I have lately noticed that over time they tend to lift up out of the pot as new roots grow on top of older dead root growth. When you repot, remove the loose older root chunks (they come off very easily when moist) to seat the plant into a new pot.
Perhaps the only bad characteristic of this genus is the difficulty in identifying them accurately. I have received plants with the same name that look different in foliage as well as flower. I promise only to pass them on to you as well identified as I can!
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