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    David Morse

    If you grow Masdevallias you will soon appreciate that hot weather and bright sunshine especially without copious watering can rapidly transform your plants from green and healthy to bleached yellow with the subsequent notorious leaf-drop and death. To try and avoid this during a summer heatwave I place my plants outdoors in shade and water daily with rainwater containing a few ice cubes to keep the roots cool. The Masdevallia species that are the most heat tolerant are the larger ones with thicker succulent leaves which thankfully include the two that are the most spectacular namely M. veitchiana and M. coccinea (see photos below). I grow both in New Zealand sphagnum moss with added perlite and repot annually. The former species has large dramatic day-glow orange blossoms covered in minute violet hairs which reflect light causing the blossom to change colour according to the viewing angle. This species has been accoladed as the king of Masdevallias and is the national flower of Peru. Masdevallia coccinea is equally handsome and comes in electric pink, magenta and red flower variants. I grow one named grandiflora which has almost luminous rich red-pink flowers. I think if it could only be tailored into a dress it would stun at the most prestigious of fashion shows. I purchased my plants from Akerne orchids in Belgium.

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