Masdevallia veitchiana

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Thought I would share some tips for everyone to grow Masdevallia veitchiana (and in general, other high-elevation, cool growing orchid species)...

My Mas. veitchiana is growing outside in temperatures at about 32°C. In nature, they are growing in full sun (slightly shaded by grasses) in temperatures from 3°C to 23°C at elevations from 2200m to 4000m...

So how can coolness be compensated in hotter temperatures for these high-elevation species? Here is what I have found;

If the high-elevation plant is placed in an area where it recieves very indirect sun, given adequate amounts of available moisture (where the medium dries only to a certain extent), and plenty of air circulation, it will thrive in the heat. If any of these factors are left out, the plant may die.

No air circulation: the plant rots
No avaiable moisture: the plant dries out
No indirect sun: the plant burns

So here is the plant, grown in these very warm conditions... hope this inspires people who have wanted to grow Masdevallia, Dracula, and other cool growing orchids to start growing them despite "unfavorable conditions"! :)



-P.A. Mahon

Pat, thanx for the tips. I am having my first successes w/ Masde's by using an ultrasonic fogger, this and a fan should provide the moisture and air movement necessary.
Your veitchiana looks fantastic.

Your culture tips are pretty subjective though.

How much (in numbers) do you need to compensate airflow, light, and humidity for cool temps.

I have also found that these parameters are critical in general for many pleurothalids. But even with constant air humidity from 70 to 90 percent, right in front of the wet pad with only 800 fc of light my Dracula bella will blast 19 of 20 buds.

I have noticed that many masdevalias (and Restrepias) are not as touchy about humidity as Dracs, but its a big group with allot of exceptions I'm sure.

My next step is to add a water chiller to the wet pad sump.
Thanks all for the comments! :)


You are correct, I am not clear enough about the conditions...

Basically, I cannot give any quantitative numbers, but can give rough estimates... it's easier if you play with the suggestions and ideas, then carefully watch what the plant does... everyone's conditions are different.

For light, I suggest being in indirect sun. For Florida (and maybe in other places too), this can be achieved by placing the plants on the north side of a wall, or taller plants, or some sort of partition. For air movement, a small plug-in fan will provide enough air circulation for the plants.

To me, I don't think humidity is a big factor... available moisture (or a certain amount of water that is retained in the medium) may be a better way of approaching how to grow the plant. The orchid can be drenched with water time to time, but the medium should retain some amount of water to stay somewhat damp, and also be allowed to dry out some. I find the best mediums for cool growing potted plants is Sphagnum moss... I also find that the moss should not be packed tight, but allow air space through it so it can somewhat dry. On mounts, I find the best medium is terrarium and shorter types of mosses, as they retain a good quantity of moisture.

I hope this kind helps, I wish I could be more specific on conditions though. This is going to sound crazy, but you have to feel like the orchid... maybe it's just me though... :)

As for Dracula, I grew a Dracula sodiroi outside in the heat with these conditions before... it didn't die, nor did it do anything. Right now though, I am growing two plants of Dracula vampira in these conditions of high heat, and they are both in bud now...

Chilled water is also a very good idea! Thanks!

I will be interested to see how the plant does over time growing in your conditions. They get nearly full sun at elevations of 7,000-13,000 feet in nature and growing them hot and shady doesn't sound like a recipe for long term success. I can't say I've ever been one to follow the rules though, and necessity is the root of ingenuity.

Keep us posted, I look forward to seeing your progress!

I'm opting for the chiller rather than air conditioning to hopefully produce the cooler temperatures from the wet pad without loosing humidtiy like you do with airconditioning.
I have actually found veitchiana to be easier to grow and bloom than most, in fact, any Mas. species,certainly easier than floribunda which is supposed to be warmth tolerant. Mine lasted about 15 years....and NYC summers get very hot. I kept it outdoors from late April to first frost...and it used to bloom most years. Eventually it kicked, but 15 years for what was probably a collected plant in origin isn't too bad. I would suggest for those of us growing in marginal environments to start with larger size plants..ideally, a Masdevallia can do well growing from a very small division, but when conditions aren't perfect, you need to start from larger divisions. Take care, Eric