Masdevallia Orchid Care: The Basics
Masdevallia (maz-deh-VAHL-ee-ah) orchids are commonly referred to as “Kite Orchids” because of their blooms that are almost triangular-shaped and have what
looks like kite-tails coming off of each sepal.
If you’re short on space to grow orchids, Masdevallias might be a great choice for you because they are compact growers in comparison to many other orchids and many don’t grow more than twelve inches in height. Flower spikes can grow to be only a few inches to more than a foot in length and each produces only one bloom. Masdevallia orchid’s blooms come in many different colors ranging from pale to almost neon as well as many different patterns such as spotted or striped.
This genus includes at least 350 recognized species and several hundred recognized hybrids. If you do decide to try your hand at Masdevallia orchids, you might consider purchasing one of the hybrids because they are more adaptable to a range of conditions and Masdevallia care of hybrids tend to be much easier.
Masdevallia orchids should be watered frequently because they do not have pseudobulbs for water storage and they tend to dry out fairly quickly. You want to make sure to not let your Masdevallia orchid dry out completely but at the same time be sure not to overwater either. Watering frequency – as covered in this article about watering orchids – can be determined by a few different things. A sign that you could be overwatering is loss of foliage. A good watering schedule is once a week during the winter and two to three times a week during the summer.
As covered in this article about orchids care and light, Masdevallias need low to medium light intensity in order to thrive. If your Masdevallia orchid is receiving too much light, it will cause the leaves to turn yellow in color, and too little light will cause the leaves to become a very dark green color and the leaves will become elongated. The best place to grow your Masdevallia orchid indoors is on a shaded windowsill, out of direct sunlight. If you only have a brightly lit windowsill, you might be best putting your Masdevallia in the middle of the room away from the bright light.
Temperature requirements for Masdevallia orchids are in the cool to intermediate range. As discussed in this orchid plant care article on temperature, the ideal daytime temperatures to grow your Masdevallia orchid is between 65°F to 75°F (18.3°C to 23.9°C), and night temperatures are between 55°F and 60°F (12.8°C to 15.6°C). A 10° to 15° difference between day and night temperatures is ideal, especially during the hot summer months. If your Masdevallia orchid becomes too hot, this could slow down its growth and ultimately kill your orchid.
Masdevallia orchids require very high humidity levels. As covered in this “humidity” article on how to care for orchids, the higher the temperature is the higher the humidity should be. A level of 60-80 percent is recommended. You can easily measure the amount of humidity in your orchids growing environment to determine if you need to increase the humidity. If you need to increase the humidity level in your orchids growing environment you can do so by placing your orchid on a humidity tray, placing a humidifier close by the orchid, or misting your orchid a few times a day. Remember, with such high humidity levels, it is equally important to maintain proper air movement to prevent orchid disease from developing. Turning on an overhead fan or placing an oscillating fan nearby will help provide the air movement for your orchid.
Masdevallia orchids should be fertilized with a diluted solution once a week when the orchid is in active growth. When the orchid is not in active growth, fertilizing one time a month is sufficient. Remember to only fertilize your orchid when the potting medium is damp. Never fertilize a dry orchid because this can cause major root damage. It is important to flush out any excess fertilizer (once a month) so that the excess does not do damage to the plant’s roots or leaves.
Masdevallias should be repotted once every year or two or once the potting medium no longer drains properly or the plant outgrows its pot. You will want to repot after the orchids flowers have bloomed which is typically in the winter or early spring. Masdevallia orchids have fine roots so fine-grade potting media is recommended such as fir bark or tree fern fiber. After repotting your Masdevallia you should maintain a high humidity level in your orchids growing area and also keep the medium a little on the drier side until you see new roots beginning to form.
And that just about covers the basics! :-)
Next Steps: Where do you go from here?
A couple options:
#1 – More Free Masdevallia Tips!
At a minimum, I strongly recommending signing up for our orchid tips newsletter (it’s free!). That’ll give you some additional (more detailed) step-by-step tips you can start using with your Masdevallias right away…
#2 – Get Access to ALL My Articles on Masdevallias…
If you’d like to learn everything you need to know about Masdevallia orchid care (and caring for ALL types of orchids) we also have something called the Orchids Made Easy Green Thumb Club.
The Green Thumb Club includes a number of different benefits – including weekly lessons on all different orchid care topics delivered to you in a special, password-protected members area. You also get the opportunity to get YOUR actual questions answered in my weekly “Ask The Orchid Guy” column, which you can check out here.
The Green Thumb Club costs less than a meal at McDonald’s – and ALSO includes all sorts of ADDITIONAL benefits, including exclusive discounts at orchid suppliers from 20-40% off as well access to our “orchid diagnosis tool” which helps you identify what problem might be plaguing your plant.
Because the club is backed by a full 100% money-back guarantee for a full 30 days, if after checking it out you decide that it’s not for you or that you didn’t get value you out of what you learned – no problem! Simply send us an email to let me know, and you’ll receive a fast and courteous refund. Put it this way: If you’re not happy, I’m not happy!
(By the way, this link here will give you access to 50% off the cost of membership. A little “gift” for reading this article all the way to the end :-))
Until Next Time,
Ryan “The Orchid Guy” :-)
IMPORTANT: To learn everything you need to know about caring for your orchids, if you haven’t already I strongly recommend signing up for the “Orchid Care Tips & Secrets Newsletter” my wife and I publish by clicking here.
It’s completely free – and the best part? You can even choose the type of information you’d like to receive (reblooming tips, basics of orchid care, etc.) Join over 20,000 fellow orchid enthusiasts young and old and sign up for our free orchid care newsletter today! :-)
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