Dracula, meaning “little dragon,” is an orchid genus found in the Andes of South and Central America. More than half the species are native to Ecuador alone. Because Dracula inhabits high elevations, it prefers cooler temperatures and constant humidity around the roots. Although it can be grown mounted, it is best grown in a net pot or basket for that reason. Draculas do not have pseudobulbs, but some have slightly fleshy leaves which can serve as water reservoirs.
Dracula was originally considered a Masdevallia (both are in the Pleurothallid Alliance), but has since been split into its own genus due to differences in plant and flower structure. Flowers usually arise from the bottom of the plant which makes it important to plant them in an open pot or basket that will allow the flower spike to emerge where you can see it! You could even hang one on the side of a terrarium—it would love the added humidity. Draculas are most notable for their interesting flower shape and markings which have earned them the title of “monkey face orchid” (like it or not).
Although Dracula is considered a cool grower, there are some that grow naturally in intermediate conditions, like Dracula lotax, and most (if not all) can tolerate temperatures in the 80’s if they are kept in the shade (see my post on this topic.) I grow mine in net pots with sphagnum moss, and I hang them in a shady spot where I won’t forget to water them. Warning: these guys are addictive.
“Karen’s Dracula” is a light-colored monkey that blooms up rather than down. That makes Dracula kareniae an excellent choice for home growers who find it hard to grow plants in baskets.
Temp: Intermediate to cool
Water: evenly moist