Masdevallia, Dracula & Related Pleurothallids

mas-deh-VAHL-lee-ah Masdevallia is a genus of some 350 species usually from cool, misty mountains of the New World Tropics. Masdevallias are best known for their showy flowers consisting of sepals fused into a tube-like structure. Their origins in cool, damp environments make them an excellent choice for cool or coastal climates. Most species and hybrids are compact enough so that they can be easily accommodated on windowsills or under lights.

Light & Air  Light should be like that given for phalaenopsis and other plants that grow well under standard fluorescent fixtures. In the home place the plant in an east or shaded south window, or under arti­ficial lights. Humidity is an important factor in the successful culture of Masdevallias. The ideal range is 60 to 80 percent. In the home, set the plants on trays of gravel partially filled with water

Temperature should be cool to intermediate. The plants will grow slowly and eventually expire if temperatures re­main high for long periods. Cool even­ings help reduce heat stress during the day Nights of 50° to 60° F are ideal, though plants tolerate temps down to 38° F; day temperatures should be 65° to 75° F.

Water & Fertilizer Water is critical for these plants be­cause they have minimal water-storage tissue. Roots should be allowed to become almost dry before watering again; if drain­age is adequate, constantly moist roots are fine. Light amounts of fertilizer at ½ to ¼ strength every third time the plant is watered is beneficial.

Potting is best done in the winter or early spring, before the heat of summer arrives or as new roots are produced. Plants must be repotted frequently, every one to two years, before the potting mix decomposes. A fine-grade potting medi­um, such as fine fir bark, is often used with plastic pots. The plant should be positioned in the pot so that the newest growth is far­thest from the edge of the container, allow­ing the maximum number of new growths without crowding the vessel. Plants grow­ing in many directions may be positioned in the center of the pot.  Keep humidity high and the potting medium slightly dry until new roots form.


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