One of the largest genera in the orchid family is Masdevallia. It unites more than 500 species of plants of not very large size, which are represented by lithophytes, epiphytes and terrestrial ones. Although there are many species in this genus, its distribution is rather limited. So, in nature, these plants can be found in the southern part of Brazil, in Mexico, the Andes, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and also in Ecuador.
Representatives of this genus differ from all other orchids in a shortened creeping rhizome, thin, highly reduced pseudobulbs, which have 1 hard, fleshy petiolate leaflet of a dark green color, and also in the shape of flowers. The development of peduncles occurs at the base of the pseudobulbs, while they contain either a few-flowered inflorescence in the form of a brush or a single flower. The corolla consists of 3 rather large sepals and 1 small petal (lip). Sepals (often confused with petals) in many species are more or less fused at the base, most often resulting in a tube. At the same time, the tips of the sepals continue with very long processes that have a filiform shape.
The only distinct petal is the lip, which may be clearly visible and shaped like a tongue, and also to be relatively small and completely hidden in a narrow throat. There are also 2 real petals, but because of their tiny size, they are almost invisible. There are species in which the flowers are pronounced zygomorphic, while in others they have triple symmetry. Sepals can have a wide variety of sizes and colors. The plant can bloom for 3-4 weeks (sometimes a little longer).
Masdevallia orchid care at home
Each species has some features of indoor care, which is closely related to the conditions in which this plant grows in nature. For example, there are light-loving or moisture-loving plants, or those that prefer cool content. However, those species that are currently grown by most gardeners have some similar care rules.
Pretty light-loving. Lighting should be bright, but at the same time diffused. Direct sunlight is not allowed. It is recommended to place a flower on the western or eastern window. At the same time, when placed on a north-facing window, backlighting is needed, and on the south – shading from the direct rays of the sun. Lighting must be used in autumn and winter, while the duration of daylight hours throughout the year is from 10 to 12 hours.
Most species need a moderately cool temperature regime. At the same time, daily temperature changes are required for the plant. So, in the summer it is best if it is from 15 to 23 degrees during the day, and from 10 to 18 degrees at night. In winter, Masdevallia needs coolness – from 10 to 15 degrees.
After there is no threat of frost at night in spring, the flower can be moved to fresh air (to the balcony, to the garden), but it must be shaded from direct sunlight.
Pots are suitable for growing, as well as blocks. It is better to take the pot from transparent plastic, while additional perforations must be made on the walls, which makes the aeration of the root system much better. The prepared container must be filled with pieces of pine bark, while their size depends on the root system of plants. So, for example, if the roots are thick, then the pieces of the bark can be relatively large, and the fine fraction is suitable for thin roots. It is recommended to mix the bark with sphagnum (optional), and it must also be placed on the surface of the substrate in order to avoid too rapid evaporation of moisture.
Large pieces of pine bark are used as blocks. Having previously made a pillow of moss, roots are fixed on the surface of the block. A layer of sphagnum should also be placed on top of the roots.
How to water
Watering should be frequent and very plentiful. To do this, take soft filtered tepid (about 40 degrees) water. Watering experts advise to carry out by immersion. In a basin filled with water, you need to lower the container or block and leave for a third of an hour until the roots and bark are saturated with moisture. Then the orchid is transferred to its usual place.
Also, the plant will be very useful “hot shower” (about 45 degrees). In the event that the water in the plumbing is not too hard, it is recommended to systematically wash the flower right under the tap in the bathroom. Or you can take a watering can for this, into which soft filtered water should be poured.
It is necessary to water the plant systematically, without waiting for the bark to dry, since there is no velamen on the surface of the roots, which contributes to the preservation of moisture. However, overflow is quite harmful, as it can provoke the formation of rot.
Humidity is directly dependent on temperature. If the room is cool, then the humidity is about 50 percent, in a warm room, and even more so in the summer heat, the humidity should be at the level of 80–90 percent. You can increase the humidity in the room with household humidifiers and steam generators, but it is best to use orchidariums for growing. You can also increase the humidity by frequently moistening the foliage from the sprayer. For this, warm soft water is used.
For flowers of miniature species, specialized glass hanging containers are often used. It is relatively easy to maintain a microclimate favorable for plant growth and development in them.
Replant only when necessary. So, if the plant has grown out of the pot or the block has become cramped, as well as in case of salinization or decomposition of the substrate. Transplanted immediately after flowering.
Fertilize the flower 1 time in 3 or 4 weeks. To do this, use a special fertilizer for orchids, take half or a third of the dose recommended on the package. Fertilizer can be dissolved in water for spraying or for irrigation.
In room conditions, such a flower can be propagated by dividing the overgrown bush into several parts.
Pests and diseases
If you follow the rules for caring for such an orchid, then it will be resistant to both diseases and pests. If the temperature regime is incorrectly selected, as well as untimely watering, at low or too high humidity, a variety of fungal diseases appear, provoking the occurrence of rot and leaf spotting. The direct rays of the sun can leave burns on the foliage.
Types for Masdevallia
Among domestic flower growers, Masdevallia is still relatively poorly distributed, and it is rather little known to them. But at the same time, from a huge number of species, you can definitely choose something to your liking.
It is currently the most popular species in cultivation. Such a plant comes from the humid forests of Venezuela and Colombia, while it prefers to grow in cracks in the bark of trees or in their branches. Lanceolate-oval or oval leaflets are slightly folded along the central vein. Peduncles are up to 15 centimeters long, and most often they are taller than the plant itself. Inflorescences in the form of a brush consist of 2-7 translucent snow-white flowers, in which dense veins are clearly distinguishable. Pronounced zygomorphic flowers have almost completely fused 2 large sepals located below, only the tips remain free, which pass into elongated thin processes. The 3rd sepal is located at the top and it has a very small size, but it has a long thread-like process, which can be bent back or look vertically upwards, completely covering the lower part of the flower. The sepal together with its process in length, as a rule, reaches 3 centimeters. The smell of the flowers is rather weak.
Masdevallia fiery red (Masdevallia ignea)
This type is one of the most spectacular. This flower comes from the forested mountain slopes of the Eastern Cordillera, which is located in Colombia. The leaflets have a different shape from oblong-lanceolate to elliptical-lanceolate, while their lower part is narrowly wedge-shaped. Long (up to 35 centimeters) peduncles are much higher than the plant itself, and they have single flowers of a rather large size (up to 8 centimeters in diameter). The flower is strongly zygomorphic. The pair of sepals below are fused in half. They have the shape of asymmetrical wide ovals and have not very large points at the tips. The color of the flowers is similar to the color of the flame. So, on a rich red background, there are 4 wide orange stripes that come out of the base. 3rd sepal, which is located at the top of the flower, is a filiform narrow tail directed strictly down. It seems to lie on the surface of the flower and at the same time covers its throat.
Masdevallia glandular (Masdevallia glandulosa)
The birthplace of this compact and very beautiful plant is Ecuador and Peru. Reverse-lanceolate leaflets at the base are noticeably elongated. Short peduncles in length reach only 4 centimeters, while the leaves are 2 times longer than them. Since this species has a decumbent growth pattern, the flower stalks rise above the leaf rosette and make it possible to admire single bell-shaped flowers. The calyx, which has 3 axes of symmetry, consists of 3 sepals, which are almost completely fused. Their free, rather wide-open triangular teeth end in thin filiform “tails”, which are somewhat longer than the sepals. The lip is almost impossible to see, as it is located deep in the bell-shaped tube. The outer part of the sepals has a light pink color, and the ends of the tails are painted yellow, as well as the surface in the depth of the tube. The inner surface of the sepals is strewn with a large number of small, protruding balls (glands), painted in purple. If you look at them from afar, they look like very bright spots. The name of this species is just related to this feature of the plant.
Such a flower is not only very effective, but also has a strong aroma (it smells like clove spice). This species is one of the most fragrant in this genus.
This plant in nature can be found in Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru. Leaflets narrowed to the base, have an obovate shape. The erect peduncles are not much longer than the foliage and are 15 centimeters long. Single flowers are zygomorphic. All 3 sepals have the same triangle shape, while they are fused to half. In 2 sepals, located below, the tips seemed to sag due to the severity of the filiform, rather long “tails”. In the sepal located on top, such a “tail” looks straight up. If you take into account these “tails”, then the diameter of the flower can be 17 centimeters. It is colored deep yellow and has longitudinally arranged burgundy stripes located in the central part of the sepals. Also on the surface of the sepals there are small burgundy dots. “Tails” are also painted in burgundy. A tiny lip is difficult to see even in a fully open pharynx.
This species is one of those whose flowers smell very bad. They have a strong musty smell.
Masdevallia Davis (Masdevallia davisii)
The birthplace of the plant is Peru, where the local population calls it solar. Thus, this orchid was named because of its rich yellow flowers. They consist of 3 sepals. 2 broadly lanceolate sepals, located below, are 2/3 fused and have small outgrowth horns at the tips. Separate 3rd triangular sepal, located at the top, is rather small in size, it gradually narrows and has a filiform thickness at the tip. Single small (up to 5 centimeters in diameter) fragrant flowers grow on rather long peduncles, which can reach a height of 25 centimeters.
This is a miniature and very beautiful plant. It comes from northeast Peru and southeast Ecuador. The rosette, consisting of leaves, has a compact size of 3 to 5 centimeters. The shape of the leaves is broadly oval, and next to the petiole there is a slight sharpening. Peduncle in height reaches 3-3.5 centimeters. It has a single flower, which is relatively large (about 3 centimeters in diameter), and painted white. 2 sepals, located below, completely fused. They have the shape of an isosceles triangle, while their tops are curved outward, and at the tips there are long “tails” of a thread-like shape.
The free, oval sepal, located at the top, is smaller than the lower ones. This sepal hangs over the calyx, while covering part of it. Has a fairly long tail which is strongly bent back and from the outside is tightly pressed to the flower. A lot of glands located on the inner surface of the sepals (outwardly similar to the surface of a thick fur coat) give the flower a special chic. Because of this, it seems that the flower is very fluffy and soft, while the sepals are similar to small fur pads. This species stands out from the rest in that it has clearly distinguishable small true yellow petals that protrude from the open throat.
The lip has a size similar to the petals and looks like an elongated tongue. that the flower is very fluffy and soft, while the sepals are similar to small fur pads. This species stands out from the rest in that it has clearly distinguishable small true yellow petals that protrude from the open throat. The lip has a size similar to the petals and looks like an elongated tongue. that the flower is very fluffy and soft, while the sepals are similar to small fur pads. This species stands out from the rest in that it has clearly distinguishable small true yellow petals that protrude from the open throat. The lip has a size similar to the petals and looks like an elongated tongue.
This flower is native to the rain forests of Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia. This miniature plant is no larger than matchboxes. The narrow leaves have a belt-like shape, while the peduncles are 2–2.5 times longer than them, and their height can reach from 4 to 7 centimeters. Single flowers have a corolla, the diameter of which is 15 millimeters. All 3 sepals are completely fused together. They formed a not very deep round cup with a small tongue-lip and 3 filiform outgrowths. These uniformly thin outgrowths from the base to the middle are colored greenish-white, and then they become rather elongated ellipsoids and have a rich yellow color. The outer surface of the corolla is painted in a rich yellow color, and the inner one is covered with many reddish spots.