Monday, March 8, 2010

Trouble Cat, Trouble Orchid

Riley seems at home with this masdevallia (Dean Hass 'Max' HCC/AOS) I bought from Prairie Orchids at the Kansas City Orchid Show.  It's a good match because Riley causes me as much worry as this orchid.  It's a cool-growing species requiring a careful environment that's cool, but not too cold, wet, but not too wet, and lots of light, but no direct light.  Yet, like almost all orchid advice, the cultural parameters of masdevallias vary widely, so general guidance is tricky.  

Why masdevallias?  I can think of a few reasons I bought this plant.  I've grown to love the triangle flower shape of Brassavolas and Rhyncholaelias, and masdevallias take it to the next level.  I'm also following the advice of Kansas City orchid expert Terrence Thompson who says that "The best advice I can give to a new grower is to start out with a variety of orchid types and see what thrives best in your growing situation."  Maybe masdevallias will explode with colorful flowers on the windowsill?

Within days my poor Masd. showed obvious signs of unhappiness.  One of the leaves developed a black spot.  They all looked a little too leathery and developed a darkened shade of green.  It didn't help matters that I dropped the plant and had to repot it.  (I wish I could blame Griffin, but I simply can't).  Maybe it's simply missing its greenhouse?  Maybe it needs more water?  I'm being patient with it and making slight adjustments.  Someday . . . maybe . . . we'll see brilliant orange flowers.  But I'm putting Riley in charge of it, so don't hold your breath.      

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