Alphabetical Plant Listing

Masdevallia (Flag Orchids)

Flag Orchids, Acinopetala, Alaticaulia, Buccella, Byrsella, Diodonopsis, Fissia, Jostia, Luerella, Luzama, Megema, Petalodon, Portillia, Regalia, Reichantha, Rodrigoa, Spectaculum, Spilotantha, Streptoura, Triotosiphon, Zahleria (Masdevallia)


Native to Mexico, Central and South America, Masdevallia (Flag Orchids) is a genus of 500 species of epiphytic, lithophytic or terrestrial orchids found growing in cloud forest at high elevations. These miniature to medium sized orchids are attractive because of their compact growth habit and profuse blooms. Masdevallias are best known for their striking flowers consisting of sepals fused into a tubelike structure. Their origins in cool, damp environments make them an excellent choice for cool or coastal climates.

Masdevallia orchids have a short creeping rhizome, no pseudobulbs. They store moisture in their roots and leaves. The leaves are leathery, elliptic to obovate with a short petiole.

Sometimes referred to as kite orchids, the flowers, up to 10 in. (25 cm), are triangular or tubular with long tails at the sepals. They occur singly or in racemose inflorescences and can be pendant or erect. Their colors are incredibly bright and vibrant, including mostly orange and red, but there are also orchid varieties that come in crisp white, green or purple.

Masdevallia orchids make beautiful plants in the home, greenhouse or shady garden.

Growing Masdevallia Orchids

Light
Masdevallia orchids require bright filtered indoor light or part shade if grown outdoors. In the home, place your orchid in an east or shaded south window or under artificial lights.

Temperatures
Masdevallia orchids require cool to intermediate temperatures between 55-60°F (13-16°C) at night and 65-75°F (18-24°C) during the day.

Water
Masdevallia orchids need a moist medium - never soggy. Roots should be allowed to become almost dry before watering again. The plants should be provided with rain water or distilled water or a very pure water source. Good-quality water is imperative for success.

Humidity
Maintain adequate humidity (50-65%) for most of the year by setting the plant in a tray of damp pebbles. Provide good air circulation at all times.

Fertilization
Fertilize regularly while plants are actively growing. Use 30-10-10-type formulations twice a month for plants in a bark-based medium. A 20-20-20-type formulation should be used for plants in other media.

Potting
Masdevallia orchids are healthiest when repotted every one to two years. Repotting should be done in the winter or early spring. A fine-grade potting medium, such as fine fir bark or tree-fern fiber, is often used with plastic pots. Sphagnum moss is also used. Keep humidity high and the potting medium slightly dry until new roots form.

Pests and diseases 
Masdevallia orchids are generally disease free. Keep an eye out for aphids, glasshouse red spider mite and mealybugs.

Guide Information

Hardiness 8 - 10
Plant Type Orchids
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Winter
Height 1" - 1' (2cm - 30cm)
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders, Patio and Containers

yoshi0511, Orchid Photo, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 8 - 10
Plant Type Orchids
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Winter
Height 1" - 1' (2cm - 30cm)
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders, Patio and Containers

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