Orchid Masdevallia: Home Care, Species, Transplantation

One of the largest genera in the orchid family is Masdevallia (Masdevallia). It brings together more than 500 species of plants of not very large size, which are represented by lithophytes, epiphytes and terrestrials. Although there are many species in this genus, its distribution is rather limited. In nature they can be found in the southern part of Brazil, in Mexico, Andes, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, as well as in Ecuador.

The representatives of this genus differ from all other orchids by short creeping rhizome, thin, strongly reduced pseudobulbs with 1 rigid, fleshy petiolate leaf of dark green color, as well as the form of flowers.

Flower stalks develop at the base of the pseudobulbs, which bear either a small 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 are continued by very long filiform sprouts. The only clearly distinguishable petal is the lip, which may be distinctly visible and tongue-shaped, or it may be relatively small and entirely hidden in the narrow pharynx.

There are also two true petals, but due to their paltry size, they are practically invisible. There are species in which the florets are distinctly zygomorphic, while in others, they have triple symmetry. The sepals can be of very different sizes and colors. The plant can bloom for 3-4 weeks (sometimes somewhat longer).

Home care of the masdevallia orchid

Orchid masdevallia: home care, species, transplantation

Each species has some specifics of room care, which is closely related to the conditions in which the plant grows in nature.

For example, there are light-loving or moisture-loving plants, or those that prefer cool conditions. However, the species that are currently grown by most flower growers have some similar rules of care.


Rather light-loving. Lighting should be bright, yet diffuse. Direct sunlight is not allowed.

It is recommended to place the flower on the western or eastern window. If placed on the north orientation window, you will need backlighting, and on the south - shade from direct sunlight. Extra light must necessarily be used in autumn and winter, with 10 to 12 hours of daylight all year round.

Temperature regime

Most species need a moderately cool temperature regime. At the same time, daily temperature variations are mandatory for the plant.

So, in summer time it's best if it's 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 frosts at night in the spring time, the flower can be moved to fresh air (on the balcony, in the garden), but it must be shaded from direct sunlight.

Orchid masdevallia: home care, species, transplantation


Pots as well as blocks are suitable for cultivation. The pot should preferably be made of transparent plastic, with additional perforations in the walls, which will allow better aeration of the root system.

The prepared container should be filled with pieces of pine bark, and their size depends on the root system of the plants. So, for example, if the roots are thick, the pieces of bark can be relatively large, and for thin roots - a fine fraction will do. It is recommended to mix the bark with sphagnum (not necessarily), and it should also be placed on the surface of the substrate to avoid too rapid evaporation of moisture.

Large sized pieces of pine bark are used as blocks. Having made a pad of moss beforehand, the 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

Water frequently and very abundantly. Soft, filtered and lukewarm (about 40 degrees Celsius) water should be used. Specialists advise watering by immersion method. In a basin filled with water to drop 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 moved to its usual place.

The plant will also benefit from a "hot shower" (about 45 degrees). If the tap water is not too hard, it is advisable to systematically wash the plant directly under the tap in the bathroom. Or you can take a watering can, in which you should pour soft filtered water.

Water the plant systematically, without waiting for the bark to dry out, because there is no velamen on the surface of the roots, which helps to retain moisture.

However, overwatering is quite harmful because it can provoke the formation of rot.

Orchid masdevallia: home care, species, transplantation


Humidity is in direct relation to the temperature regime. If your room is cool, about 50 percent humidity is suitable, in a warm room, and even more so in the heat of summer, the humidity should be 80-90 percent. Increase the humidity in the room can be household humidifiers and steam generators, but the best way to grow orchidariums. You can also increase the humidity by moistening the foliage frequently from a sprayer.

For this purpose, lukewarm, soft water is used.

Specialised glass hanging containers are often used for miniature flowers. It is relatively easy to maintain a microclimate favorable for plant growth and development there.

Perfections of transplanting

Transplant only when necessary. For example if the plant has grown out of its pot or if the block has become too small, or if the substrate has become salty or decomposed.

Repot as soon as the flowering process is complete.


Fertilize the flower once every 3 or 4 weeks. Use a special fertilizer for orchids, half or one third of the amount recommended on the package. It can be diluted in water for spraying or watering.

Propagation methods

In a room, you can propagate such a flower by dividing the sprawling bush into several parts.

Pests and diseases

If you follow the rules of care for such an orchid, it will be resistant both to diseases and pests. If the temperature is not right, if the watering is not timely, if the humidity is too low or too high, various fungal diseases will appear, causing leaf rot and spotting. Direct sunlight can cause burns on foliage.

How to take care video


Main species

Masdevallia is still relatively new among domestic growers and is not well known. But yet you can certainly choose something to your taste from the huge number of species.

Masdevallia merchantable (Masdevallia tovarensis)

Orchid masdevallia: home care, species, transplantation

It is at present the most popular species in culture. This plant is native to the humid forests of Venezuela and Colombia, and it prefers to grow in cracks in the bark of trees or in their branches. The lanceolate-oval or oval leaves are slightly folded along the central vein. The flower stems are up to 15 centimeters long and are often taller than the plant itself. Inflorescences in the form of a brush consist of 2-7 translucent snow-white florets with distinct dense veins.

The zygomorph flowers have almost entirely fused two large sepals, which are located below; only the tips are left free, turning into elongated thinner buds. The 3rd sepal is upwards and very small, but it has a long filiform sprout, which may be bent backwards or vertically upwards, entirely overlapping the lower part of the flower. The sepal with its offshoot is usually up to 3 centimeters long. The flowers smell rather faint.

Masdevallia fiery red (Masdevallia ignea)

Orchid masdevallia: home care, species, transplantation

This species is one of the most spectacular.

This flower is native to the forested mountain slopes of the Eastern Cordilleras, which is in Colombia. The leaves vary in shape from oblong-lanceolate to elliptically-lanceolate, with the lower part narrowly wedge-shaped. The long (up to 35 centimeters) flower stalks are much taller than the plant itself, and they bear rather large single flowers (up to 8 centimeters in diameter). The flower is distinctly zygomorphic. The pair of sepals below are half-grown.

They have the shape of asymmetrical wide ovals and have not very large pointed tips. The color of the flowers is similar to the color of the flame. Thus, on a rich red background, there are 4 broad strips of orange that emerge from the base. The 3rd sepal, which is located in the upper part of the flower, is a thread-like narrow tail directed strictly downwards. It seems to lie on the surface of the flower and yet covers its pharynx.

Masdevallia glandulosa (Masdevallia glandulosa)

Orchid masdevallia: home care, species, transplantation

Native to Ecuador and Peru is this compact and very beautiful plant. The inversely lanceolate leaves are noticeably elongated at the base. The short flower stalks are only 4 centimeters long, while the leaflets are twice as long as they are. As the flower stems are lodging-like in shape, they tower above the rosette and allow you to admire single, bell-shaped blossoms. The calyx with 3 axes of symmetry consists of 3 sepals, which are almost completely fused.

Their loose, rather widely opened triangular teeth end in thin filiform tails, which are somewhat longer than the sepals. The lip is almost impossible to see, as it is deep in the bell-shaped tube. The outer part of the sepals is light pink, while the tips of the tails, as well as the surface deep inside the tube, are yellow. The inner surface of the sepals is studded with a large number of small, projecting balls (glandules), colored purple. When viewed from a distance, they look like very bright speckles.

The name of this species, just because of this feature of the plant.

This flower is not only very showy, but also has a strong aroma (smells like clove spice). This species is one of the most fragrant in the genus.

Masdevallia triangularis

Orchid masdevallia: home care, species, transplantation

This plant can be found in nature in Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia as well as Peru. The leaflets, narrowed to the base, are obovate in shape.

The upright peduncles are not much longer than the leaves and are about 15 centimeters long. The single florets are zygomorphic. All 3 sepals have the same triangular shape, but they are fused halfway. The 2 sepals underneath have tips that look as if sagging due to the weight of the thread-like, rather long "tails". The tepals at the top have such a "tail" looking strictly upward.

If you take into account these "tails", the diameter of the flower may be 17 centimeters. It is painted a rich yellow color and has longitudinally arranged maroon stripes, located in the central part of the sepal. There are also small maroon dots on the surface of the sepals. The "tails" are also colored maroon. The tiny lip is difficult to see, even in the fully opened pharynx.

This species is one of those whose flowers smell very bad. They have a strong odor of rot.

Masdevallia Davis (Masdevallia davisii)

Orchid masdevallia: home care, species, transplantation

The plant is native to Peru, where it is referred to by the local population as the sun orchid. This orchid was thus named because of its deep yellow colored flowers. They consist of 3 sepals.

The 2 wide-lanceolate sepals underneath are 2/3 fused, with small horn-like outgrowths at the tips. A separate 3rd triangular sepal, at the top, is rather small, gradually tapering and with threadlike thickness at the tip. Single small (up to 5 centimeters in diameter) fragrant flowers grow on fairly long peduncles that can reach 25 centimeters in height.

Masdevallia andreettaeana

Orchid masdevallia: home care, species, transplantation

This is a miniature and very beautiful plant. It is native to northeastern Peru and southeastern Ecuador.

The rosette, consisting of leaves, is compact in size from 3 to 5 centimeters. The shape of the leaves is broadly oval, and there is a small cusp near the petiole. The flower stalk reaches 3 to 3.5 centimeters in height. It bears a single flower, which is relatively large (about 3 centimeters in diameter) and painted white.

The 2 sepals underneath are completely fused. They have the shape of an isosceles triangle, with their tops curved outward, and on the tips are long "tails" filiform shape. The loose, oval tepals, located at the top, are smaller than the lower ones. This calyx overhangs the calyx as if covering a part of it. It has a rather long "tail", which is strongly bent backwards and tightly pressed to the flower from the outside.

A lot of glandules on the inner surface of the tepals (similar in appearance to the surface of a dense fur coat) gives the flower a special glamour. Because of this there is an impression that the flower is very fluffy and soft, while the sepals are similar to small sized fur pads. This species stands out from the others in that it has clearly distinguishable small true yellow petals, which protrude from the open pharynx. The lip is similar in size to the petals and resembles an elongated tongue.

Masdevallia erinacea

Orchid masdevallia: home care, species, transplantation

Native to this flower are the rain forests of Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia.

This miniature plant is no larger than a matchbox. The narrow leaflets are strap-shaped but the flower stalks are 2 to 2.5 times longer than they are, and they can be 4 to 7 centimeters high. The single florets have a corolla with a diameter of 15 millimeters. All 3 sepals are completely fused with each other.

They form a not very deep round calyx, which has a small tongue and 3 filiform outgrowths. These uniformly thin outgrowths are greenish-white from the base to the middle, and then they become ellipsoids, rather elongated and richly yellow in color. The outer surface of the corolla is deep yellow, while the inner surface is covered with many reddish spots. On the surface of the whole flower there are sparse protruding glandules, somewhat similar to small hairs.



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