Masdevallia potting experiment

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Paul Mc

Thought I'd let everyone here benefit from my experiment, based upon Ray's website info.

I've never been good with Masdevallias, but have finally managed to keep one alive for over a year now. It hasn't been too happy, but alive nonetheless.

I had been considering using a modified zeer pot for evaporative cooling effect when Ray suggested using S/H in a modified scenario to also create a similar effect. Since I had the LECA to use, I did just that. However, I also have clay pots and sand as well to create a side by side test with once I find a few more Masdie's to add to the experiment.

My 2 Masdie's are now potted in only LECA inside unglazed clay pots. The pots are say directly in a saucer of water, with care that the roots are not immediately on top of the water line.

As ambient humidity can be an issue with evaporative rates, I placed a small fan right next to the pots so there is constant airflow, hopefully increasing the evaporation rate inside and around the pots.

Here is a pic.

After 1 complete day in this setting, I had to refill the saucers about 3 times. Further, I had an orchid in a clay pot without LECA that I say nearby so I could feel both and see if there was a notable temp difference on the outside of the pot. I was shocked at the temp difference I was able to feel just by hand! What the actual temp difference is I have yet to test though. However, the combo of the hand feeling test and the need to refill many times in 1 day would suggest that something is working.

As others have stated, which I fully agree with, the plants will ultimately be the judge of this set up, lol...

Just thought someone out there might find this interesting and perhaps even helpful.
Awesome! Adding the fan should really help with cooling. In order to maximize evaporative cooling effects, you want to keep the outside environment drier, so that more moisture can evaporate more easily into the air. Make sure you find a good medium between the humidity needs of the plant and the humidity needed to generate adequate cooling.
Good thought Goods. Hadn't even thought of that yet, but guess thats why Im wanting to test zeer pots as well. What other mediums would you be thinking of. This is all about me testing and learning from the experiences, and all thoughts are totally welcome to add more ideas to my experiments.
I would look into those "cool pots" from The Orchid Gallery. I think they are similar to your technique here, but may be slightly different. Also, the Hygrolon looks to be an interesting media, especially if you used it similar to the Epiweb IIS system or those clay tubes. They would stay consistently moist, potentially creating a humid microclimate around the plants, while still providing some evaporative cooling.

What Masdies are you trying to grow and what is your typical indoor relative humidity?
I'll have to get back to you on the name of one Masdie. The second I bought 2 weeks ago without a tag at a discount price for this.

I've tried the regular cool pots as I'd heard good things. Didn't work for me, but it may have been my medium choices at that time and misunderstanding of product use. I'm still planning in purchasing their tubes for future use though. I see the benefits, just trying to sort out the details.

I've also found a retailer for hygrolon here in the US and have been following "Magnus" progress and work with this product. Great ideas, and I'd love to try them in the future, in fact I want a new terrarium to use this stuff in!!! It seems awesome, but working through details still. Have a few small terrariums and aquariums that would work great with this I think. Unfortunately, im searching for a job so costs must be minimal for now. Future project!!! Yippee!!!

My humidity is generally between 40 to 60 inside, but has been known to hit +/- 10 from there. In the summer, we often are quite higher.

Thank you so much for your thoughts in this! As I said before, just more thoughts and data to think about and use!!! Love it!!!!
Depending on the species or species in the background of the hybrid, you may be able to get away with just keeping these indoors in a terrarium. There are some nice true warm growers and some that are I-W don't seem all that hard to grow as long as you get healthy plants to begin with. I've even gotten away with some of the more intermediate growers by just growing them indoors in a room temperature terrarium.

I've been using the Hygrolon for about a month now, and I'm starting to see some results from the initial experimenting. So far, so good. When the growth is obvious in a picture, I'll post some before and afters in a thread.
Thanks Marc!

Goods, yes Id love to see some before and after shots with an explanation of your potting and culture. I live Masdie's but haven't figured then out completely yet. I fear they see me coming and start screaming for their lives right now, lol...

The one that has a tag is Meijiana x stobelii and is the small one just barely seen behind the larger cheap one featured in the photograph I posted.
I'll be trying this soon with a M. Aquarius. So you really have to fill the saucers 3 times a day? Or does it hold water after a time and you do not have to fill it so often? What would happen if I went on a 3-10 day vacation and had my masdevallia in this set up?
It's evaporating and not holding water. I have an emergency trip for family I must make, so I plan to use a very large saucer and fill it with water when I leave. Yes, extended time away will be an issue with this set up, but it would also have been with the zeer pot. I'm still working out the details for a trip away, including asking a very kind neighbor to assist, lol...
Could you expand on the issues you faced? All info is welcome as it gives me things to be aware of and consider. Would love to hear your thoughts about your experience.

The plants were: Hampshire Prolific, Bella Donna, Red Wing and Angel Tang.

Medium: small sized Prime Agra.

The roots just didn't want to grow in the pot, between the LECAs. They were growing on the top.

I watered (always on the top of the medium) 2 times a week with water from dehumidifier mixed or not with water from our well (pH of our well water is 7 to 7.2). And after that leaching, I added a solution of MSU fertiliser (30 to 50 ppm N).

No one of the plants died but they were starving. The are now growing on straight rockwool or on a bark mix.
So what do masdevallias need for light and fertilizer? I've heard so much contradicting info on the two subjects. Ranging from Catt light to Phal light and heavy feeders to light feeders.
What masdies would require catt light? Haven't heard that one.
Light feeders is what I've always heard. When I'm dealing with a plant that has thin roots, common sense tells me NO heavy fertilizer.

Jason Fischer was guest presenter at our OC in January and he talked about about the ebb flow system they've been using with phrags & how well they're responding, (which I'm setting up now). I think masdies would do great with this system. I find refilling saucers 2-3x a day just won't work for me. There is a low ebb tide system, one could put the pump on a timer & flood the shallow tray 3 times a day.
Interesting! Low ebb system. I've seen a guy locally who studies Cypridiums using one.

I ended up purchasing some larger clear water reservoirs so the time between refilling is decreased since Im leaving today for 2 days, then may be making an emergency trip to TN for a family member in the ICU.
The issue that I see most critical for the pleurothalid group in general, that I've not seen discussed (except by Goods) is humidity level. The bulk of them requiring very high humidity at all times. (70-80% minimum)

Some individual species/genera are better than others, but I've never been able to get feeding/watering/lighting/temperature issues compensate for a dry environment.
I don't think you need to have a fan directly on the pot/reservoir all the time to keep it cool. only if there was really hot weather might this help, but there are other things that you can do to increase the cooling capacity if you really need to.
for what rick suggests above about raising humidity, you could get a really large, fairly tall clay pot and set that in the water, and then put your other pots inside with the wicking material around it (with the plants/pots above the water level). if the outer pot is higher it will help to hold in some humidity and keep some cooler air inside as well as wick and cool the media inside
if you weren't pointing a fan at your wicking pot, then it won't dry out so fast and you won't have to refill as much