It was finally time to repot the little seedlings I bought from Ecuagenera in flasks at the orchid show in Gothenburg 2008. Since deflasking them I have grown them intermediate/warm in a small mini-greenhouse and communal pots with sphagnum moss. It is recommended you grow all small seedlings, even cool growers, a bit warmer but now I thought they had grown large enough to move into the cool vivarium with the grownups.
They have been progressing slowly, oh so slowly, over the past two years… you have to be very patient to grow orchids from flasks… I needed to deflask them almost immediately after arrival since the agar had begun to mold inside, you can see it in the first flask photo below, this slowed down their progress some. It is best to let them grow inside the flask as long as possible, until they no longer fit or the nutrients in the agar is spent. But at first sign of mold you have to take them out since mold can quickly overtake the whole flask, killing the seedlings. It is not unusual that you get mold however with pressure changes in air transport allowing air to get inside the sterile flasks. This is the chance you take when you buy flasks.
The Masdevallia were of a decent (but not great) size when I got them and established nicely outside the flask. I have an almost 100% survival rate among the Masdevallia infracta. The Dracula babies however were very small, less then a centimeter tall, and I was unsure they would even make it at all. Many of them did not, but I have 3 very strong seedlings left. In all fairness, the Dracula babies would have done a lot better with a bit higher RH than I could provide in my nursery and many of them have simply whithered away. Unfortunately most of the Masdevallia decumana babies were lost to mold when we were away on vacation about a year ago, I have one very tiny seedling left, we’ll see how it does now…
I mounted the Dracula babies on EpiWeb and potted all the Masdevallia in a couple of communal mesh pots in EpiWeb substrate. The easiest way to do this without damaging the roots is to simply sandwich the seedling between 2 or 3 pieces of EpiWeb nuggets, then place them side by side in the pot kind of like stacking Lego. I am looking forward to seeing them thrive now, all and all, the cool vivarium can provide much better growing conditions for these little guys. It was as fun windowsill project though and I am satisfied with the results.