The following information about Masdevallias originates from Brian Milligan, entitled “Masdevallias Are Blooming” is from Orchids in Victoria, 2000. Milligan explains why these orchids are so popular and how easy it is to grow and maintain them in the smallest of spaces, making them most suitable apartment dwellers.

Milligan explains that “Masdevallias are popular because they make small, compact, easily managed pot-plants, a distinct advantage for those with limited growing space and a declining interest in repotting huge Cymbidium plants. A Masdevallia collection will provide an assortment of colourful blooms every day of the year. Some species flower only once a year, but others have a succession of flowers, while many hybrids flower several times throughout the year”. According to Milligan:

  • The main requirement of Masdevallias is a humid atmosphere, and a maximum temperature seldom exceeding 25°C. Consistently high temperatures of 30°C or above weaken Masdevallia plants, which cease growth and then start to drop their leaves.
  • An evaporative cooler is very useful in summer. Not only does it provide cooling but it simultaneously increases the humidity.
  • The floor of the growing area should be kept wet and frequent misting of the leaves also helps them.For further information see: Masdevallias are Booming by Brian Milligan

Also from Orchids in Victoria 2000 Alan Hope, produced an article entitled “Masdevallias and their Cultivation”   where he claims that “Masdevallias, of which there are around 400 different species, belong to the Pleurothallidinae family. This large group of plants is found in Central and South America, particularly in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Masdevallia veitchiana and Masdevallia coccinea are two excellent examples, having lovely foliage and large, almost fluorescent blooms. Although Masdevallias are found in the tropics, they grow at quite high altitudes and therefore need to be grown under cool to cold conditions in a protected shade-house or unheated glasshouse”.

Hope explains that Masdevallias are cool-growing, free-flowering orchids with compact plants that will often produce a succession of colorful flowers throughout the year. The flowers are produced in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours, sometimes complemented with a range of stripes or spots. In Melbourne they grow happily in a shade house, provided that efforts are made to maintain cool, humid conditions on hot summer days.

In another article by Brendan Larkin, entitled “How I grow Masdevallias” (from Many More Orchids in Victoria, 2003)  Larkin explains that in the focus of  potting Masdevallias, he  emphasises that most of his plants are grown in chopped Sphagnum moss, mixed with small polystyrene chips, which stop the mix from becoming waterlogged. He explains that some growers use other materials, such as Versa Rock and pine bark or Rockwool, Perlite and polystyrene chips and comments, “If you use bark in your mix, it’s a good idea to add some Canunda shell or granite chips to minimise the development of acidity as the bark ages, especially if you fertilise heavily… If you have a large plant that needs dividing, try growing the pieces in different ways (e.g. in a hanging basket, on a mount, or in a pot, to find out which method suits best”. For further information about this article by Brendan Larkin, follow the following link: “How I Grow Masdevallias“.

  • Further information is available via  Cultural Notes: How to Grow Masdevallias (from More Orchids in Victoria, 2002) which is available courtesy of the members and growers from the North-East Melbourne Orchid Society (NEMOS).

Information on Masdevallias and other orchid varieties, can be found on the Orchid Societies Council of Victoria (OSCOV) Website under the section Articles & Resources.

  • See also our Masdevallia photo gallery.
  • For further information about orchid care at Southern Suburbs Orchid Society (SSOS) or membership inquiries, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.

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