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Masdevallia Genus

Masdevallia Genus

Masdevallia Genus.

Masdevallia is one of the genera with the highest number of species within the orchid family, with approximately 1123 records according to the KEW. 659 species have been recognized as valid names and 464 species as synonyms or invalid names.

The scientific name of the genus Masdevallia, was given by H. Ruiz & J. Pavón, in 1974 in honor of Mr. José Masdevall Terrades Llobet, a doctor and botanist at the court of Carlos III of Spain.

These species are found distributed from Mexico to Brazil, with a greater presence in the Andean vertices of Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. They grow in habitats with different altitudinal floors from 130 to 3800 meters above sea level. They are generally epiphytes, terrestrial or lithophytes and prefer cloud and rain forests with high humidity and good ventilation. The majority Masdevallia species grow in intermediate to cold climates.

At Ecuagenera we have classified them as follows, to optimize their best development.


Cold climate Masdevallias:


These species grow in cloud forests, in temperatures that range between 9oC to 18oC. The environmental humidity that Masdevallia require for optimal growth is in an approximate range of 70% to 80%, with it being necessary to regulate the shade of 60%. Irrigation can be applied twice a week,

without forgetting the need to fertilize and generate spaces where they enjoy excellent ventilation.



Intermediate climate Masdevallia:


In our nurseries they are cultivated in temperatures that range between 14oC a 26oC. These species develop more easily in a medium that provides an excellent environmental humidity that ranges between 70% and 80%. Shade is a substantial factor for their optimal growth and should be adjusted to 60%. Irrigation could be carried out twice a week without forgetting to provide the plants with excellent ventilation and fertilization.




Warm climate Masdevallia:


Within the genus Masdevallia we find some species that come from warm habitats, that is, from lower elevational floors. For their optimal development, they should be cultivated in temperatures that vary between 20oC y 32oC, requiring an environmental humidity between 80% and 90%, accompanied by 60% shade. Irrigation should be done two to three times a week, depending on the environmental conditions, without forgetting to accompany it with excellent ventilation and fertilization.




Cultivation guidelines:


The adequate substrate to plant our Masdevallias is the mixture of moss (Sphagnum) in 80% and 20% of pumice or perlite rock. The latter is to allow better aeration to the root system, in this way we will avoid risks of rot. This culture medium has a durability period of approximately seven months, after this period it must be replaced.

The irrigation to be applied to these species will depend on the place where they are located or cultivated. If our plants belong to a warm climate they should be watered two to three times a week, if they belong to an intermediate or cold climate, the irrigation should be once or twice a week. However in any of the aforementioned conditions it is essential that they enjoy good air circulation, since this will allow the root system to achieve the required humidity avoiding risks of rot.

If we have decided to grow them indoors, where we do not have good air circulation, irrigation should be done once a week, since the moisture in the root system will take longer to evaporate.

It is essential to generate good environmental humidity, this does not mean increasing irrigation. On the contrary, the intention is to create an environment similar to that of its natural habitat, for this it is advisable to place containers with water near the plants or to cultivate Bromeliads among the orchids as these plants accumulate water especially in their leaves, creating an excellent humidity for our orchids.

However, the best way to recognize if our plants need to increase or decrease irrigation will be by daily touching the growing medium (substrate), in this way we can recognize if the humidity is adequate. 

The luminosity is a factor of vital importance when talking about the cultivation of orchids, especially Masdevallias, since these require around 40% of luminosity for their optimal development. If they are located inside the house they should be placed near a window that allows them to reach the reflections of the solar rays.

 Fertilization plays a fundamental role, when a plant leaves its natural habitat it loses the possibility of receiving existing nutrients in the area. Therefore it is necessary to receive balanced fertilizers that contain Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. The concentrations will vary depending on the stage of each plants. For example: 

- If our plants are in the growth stage or have passed the flowering stage, fertilizers with a higher concentration of nitrogen will be applied, this will act especially in the generation of new shoots, knowing that these will guarantee the next flowering.

- When a considerable period of time has passed after flowering, approximately three to four months, especially when we observe the maturation of the new shoots, fertilizers with a higher concentration of phosphorus will be applied to stimulate flowering.

- To achieve a better root system and circulation of the sap in the leaves, it is necessary to apply fertilizers with a higher concentration of potassium, this will help to provide greater vitality to the plant; It will be applied when we begin to appreciate the presence of flower spikes, it will also help the flowers to be stronger, durable and colorful.

Foliar fertilizers should be applied every 15 days, always in the morning before the sunlight intensifies, so we will avoid burns on the leaves. We recommend spraying the plants with water 10 minutes before application, this will stimulate the stomata to achieve a better absorption.

The reproduction of orchids is generally carried out in-vitro, that is through seeds. If we want to reproduce it at home it will be done vegetatively. For this we will separate a piece of it that consists of taking at least seven leaves from the root, to plant it in a new pot. It is advisable to carry out this process once the flowering has concluded.

Let's not forget that plants are living beings, which can express different reactions, demonstrating the need or excess of some element within the crop. For example:

- Lack of watering produces dryness and weakness in the leaves.

- In excess of irrigation, especially in the tender shoots it will turn them yellowish, showing the beginning of rotting.

- In excess of sunlight they will react showing their yellowish leaves, in some cases they will show burns.

- In the absence of light, the leaves will turn a greener color with weak and fragile shoots that tend to break easily.

- In case the plants are exposed to too hot climates, they will react by showing burns on the leaves, which will be noticeable from the apex towards the center.

- If the substrate or growing medium has reached its useful life, it becomes unusable, the reaction in the plants will be yellowish shoots and root rot.

- Your plant does not show the presence of new shoots. It is time to check the root system where mollusks such as slugs are generally housed, they feed on the tender shoots preventing growth.

- If your plant does not show the presence of flowers, it is not receiving adequate fertilization. In short, the different reactions of our plants must be observed to act in time and improve their conditions.