Guest Author - Susan Taylor
Masdevallia saltatrix was fancifully named The Dancer Masdevallia for its unusual shape. This little plant is a true miniature ranging from 3 to 4 inches tall (7-11 cm) with the red and yellow 1 ½ inch (4 cm) flowers held on erect stems. The flowers are dark shiny red and the tips of the sepals terminate in the bright yellow tails that characterize the Masdevallia. They flower throughout the year with one flower per inflorescence.
These are true intermediate to cool growers as they come from the cloud forests of the Andes in Columbia. They must be kept under 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 C) during the day and receive cool night temperatures at a minimum of 52 degrees (11 C) at night. If you live in the warmer areas of the country you will need to grow this gem indoors and provide good air circulation with the cool nights. The resulting flowers will be worth the extra effort. They need to be kept moist at all times in well draining medium and should be watered every day. Humidity is also important for good growth and is best if kept at 60-90%. As with most Masdevallia these little plants need indirect low light conditions, they burn easily. This is a good plant to grow in terrarium conditions if you can provide the cooling night-time temperatures necessary.
Masdevallia (pronounced mas-de-VAL-lee-ah) is a member of the Pleurothallid Alliance which is one of the largest in the orchid world with at last count more than 4,000 species. The Masdevallia genus, one of the most recognized sections of the alliance, has approximately 350 species found throughout Mexico to southern Brazil. The genus is known for its many miniature and medium sized epiphytic and lithophytic plants which are extensively grown and hybridized. They flower throughout the year and provide a wonderful range of colors and cute little flowers. Most are cool to intermediate growers and require high humidity and moisture, cool nights, and low light.
Further information on Masdevallia can be found at Masdevallia Pages very interesting scientific information on the Pleurothallid Alliance the Masdevallia in particular; Masdevallia Pages from Lynn O’Shaughnessy, newsletter editor for the Pleurothallid Alliance; and Masdevallia from the Canadian Orchid Congress.
Here is a listing of some vendors who provide seed grown species. Of course, not all species are always available. If you’re interested in something, talk to some of these vendors to see if there’s another variety that is close. Often the only difference would be 8 inches tall versus 6 inches or a different colored flower. Also, please mention that you are calling as a result of seeing them recommended on BellaOnline Orchids.
Carter and Holmes
First Ray’s Orchids
Oak Hill Farm
Parkside Orchids Nursery
Tropical Orchid Farm