I have decided to start a little experiment testing potting media with Masdevallias. I happen to have two lovely Masdevallia tovarensis orchids that need to be repotted, so they have been volunteered for the project.

New Zealand Sphagnum Moss I plan to place one back in sphagnum moss, like they both have been cultivated for the past year and a half. Then try placing the other one in volcanic rocks and semi-hydro culture. Then I can follow their development and see which one does best, if any difference. I will share my findings here as the experiment moves along.

Why do this?

A lot of people love to grow orchids in sphagnum moss, and I do too, but only to a point. I do not like that, being damp all the time, the medium breaks down so fast. This is a problem for plants that are sensitive to bad potting medium, which Masdevallias are. You basically have to repot them once a year when you grow in moss. The picture on the left shows a comparison of fresh moss and what it looks like after 1,5 years in Masdevallia culture.  

On top of that, my recent battle with the Sciara hemerobioides (dark-winged fungus gnat/sorgmygg) revealed that the nasty little fliers prefer moss to any other medium I use. That’s why I decided to start this experiment.


Day 1

Masdevallia tovarensis #1
Potted in fresh New Zealand sphagnum moss with a few bits of EpiWeb tossed in to help  the moss remain airy and  not too compact.
Masdevallia tovarensis Masdevallia tovarensis Masdevallia tovarensis Masdevallia tovarensis

Masdevallia tovarensis #2
Potted in red volcanic rocks and will be grown in semi-hydro culture. A layer of leca on the bottom to ensure good drainage.
Masdevallia tovarensis Masdevallia tovarensis Masdevallia tovarensis Masdevallia tovarensis

Experiment notes: Both plants are from the same grower having been cultivated the same way (by me) for a year and a half prior to starting this experiment. Both are in similar shape, size and have comparable root systems. During the experiment they will be grown side by side on the windowsill under additional lighting.