It is a genus that includes numerous epiphytic orchids, originating from the wet and mountainous areas of South America, from Mexico to the Perщ. They do not have pseudubulbs and the long, narrow, fairly thick leaves constitute large clumps that grow rapidly and vigorously. The flowers are showy and in many varieties grow just above the foliage, sometimes even covered by leaves; they are elongated tubular in shape and of various colors, usually white, cream or yellow, but can also be purple, pink or red.
For example, M. Lata has cream flowers, with sepals provided with long golden yellow tails; while M. Nicaraguensis has light pink flowers streaked with a bright purple color.
Even the different varieties are quite similar to each other as general characteristics, the flowers can be very different, both with wider petals and with a threadlike appearance.
In places of origin le Masdevallia they grow in shady areas; at home they prefer bright areas, but still not in direct contact with the rays of the sun, which burns the leaves causing brown spots on the leaves. In summer they can be taken outside, taking care to protect them from the sun, especially during the hottest hours of the day. They fear the cold very much, the ideal temperature of cultivation is around 15-20 ° C and should never fall below 7 ° C.
This kind of orchid loves damp and ventilated environments, without however cold air currents and temperature changes that could cause serious damage.
Like many other orchids the masdevallia need abundant humidity, in this particular case, being devoid of pseudobulbs to store water, it is good to remember to supply small quantities of water very often, constantly maintaining the wet substrate.
It is advisable to vaporize the leaves to increase the environmental humidity, especially during hot days. Add fertilizer to the irrigation water every 2-3 weeks, from April to October.
These plants have very thin roots, so it is good to check that the soil does not remain soaked with water, as dangerous root rots may arise.
The ideal ambient temperature for these orchids can even reach 70%.
These plants grow better inside a greenhouse, where it is possible to maintain the degree of humidity and the constant temperature.
To plant the masdevallia use a compost for orchids, prepared with shredded bark, sphagnum and osmunda fiber; to increase drainage, a small amount of perlite or pumice stone can be added.
These orchids should be repotted every year, since many varieties have a fairly rapid growth, and furthermore the continuous humidity of the substrate can cause their decomposition.
In spring it is possible to divide the clumps of leaves, taking care to maintain at least one healthy root for each head, which must be immediately repotted in a single pot, using the best compound for orchids, that consisting of sphagnum and shredded barks.
Masdevallia: Diseases and parasites
Orchid plants can be subject to numerous different problems, linked to environmental factors and wrong cultivation techniques. One of the major problems can be caused by an excess of water in the soil that can cause serious root rot if not countered with timeliness.
Orchids can also be affected by aphids, mealybugs and mites, which can be counteracted with special insecticide products, or, with regard to scale insects with manual intervention using a cotton swab with alcohol.