How to grow Masdevallia
The Masdevallia (Masdevallia Ruiz & Pav., 1794) are a genus of plants from the Orchidaceae family, with around one hundred species present. These are epiphytic orchids originating from the mountainous areas of South America and whose name is in honor of the botanist Josè Masdevall, president of the Cartagena Academy of Medicine, who lived in the nineteenth century.
The Masdevallia are small orchids without pseudo-bulbs; it has leaves that narrow at the base in a long petiole, with a leathery consistency, solitary and gathered in clumps.
Within this genus the individual species, although quite similar to each other, have flowers with different morphological characteristics; the sepals can be expanded, caudate or joined together so as to take on a tubular shape.
Among the most cultivated and commercialized species we recall:
– Masdevallia bella – plant native to Colombia, with leaves about 30 cm long, flowers with orange dorsal sepals and yellow spotted red laterals;
– Masdevallia chimaera – plant that can present both erect and drooping flowers, ocher yellow sepals, brownish with purple verrucous spots and small white labellum;
– Masdevallia ignea – species with elliptic leaves, solitary flowers orange red veined with carmine, the upper sepal has a triangular shape;
– Masdevallia veitchiana – plant native to Peru, with linear leaves and solitary flowers orange red dotted with purple papillae.
In this card we will see how to grow Masdevallia taking into account their characteristics and soil and climatic needs.
Let’s start with the substrate.
This must be done using sphagnum, polypodium roots and osmunda fibers in containers with excellent drainage in order to avoid water stagnation.
In this regard, a layer of a few centimeters of perlite or very large gravel should be placed on the bottom of the pots. Masdevallia can be grown in pots or even in baskets.
The best climatic conditions for cultivating the Masdevallia are also those that are realized in a cold and very humid greenhouse; in this conditioned environment the temperature must be around a minimum of 7 ° C during the night and around 12 ° C during the day; moreover the air humidity must always be kept very high.
With regard to water supplies, these must be operated with very low salinity water which, in the event of unavailability, can be collected with rainwater, or by appropriately mixing water from the network with deionized water. Watering can be done by immersing the containers in this water and making it drain well before putting them back in their positions. Irrigation should decrease noticeably in winter and be done between spring and summer only when the substrate begins to dry up.
Finally the multiplication.
The best way to reproduce the Masdevallia is to use the multiplication by division of the clumps, an operation that must be done in the spring period.