Masdevallia imposter, the “Deceiver” Masdevallia (it was once confused with another species), is a miniature to small, warm to cool grower native to Peru, Venezuela, and Ecuador. This is one of the first Masdevallia species I ever bought, and it has to be in the top five easiest to grow–maybe even one of the easiest orchids to grow, period. Mine grow in the greenhouse all summer which tops out over 100 degrees–no negative effects on this guy! The flowers are unusual in that they have very long, thin sepals as opposed to the typical triangular shape one associates with masdevallias. The lower sepals are dark burgundy tipped in bright gold, and the dorsal sepal is almost entirely bright gold. Masdevallia imposter flowers last a long time. I have one blooming now that is nearing the end of its second month in bloom, and the flowers still look perfect. I’m very happy to be able to offer this species again.
Masdevallia is a New World genus named for Dr. Jose Masdeval, a Spanish botanist in the time of Charles III, and comprised of about 600 miniature to medium sized epiphytic or lithophytic species from Mexico to the southern Andes. Like their close relative the draculas (for example Dracula benedictii), masdevallias have creeping rhizomes and an inflorescence that arises from an annulus, but it’s the structure of the flower that really stands out. The sepals are fused into a tube, of sorts, and the petals stand out in various triangular arrangements. Colors range from white to yellow to brilliant reds and purples. It is hard to pick favorites.
Being mostly from montane cloud forest, Masdevallia is generally considered a cool grower; however, there are species that grow naturally in intermediate and even warm conditions, like Masdevallia rex, M. ayabacana, M. discoidea, and M. bennettii. In my experience, most (if not all) can tolerate temperatures in the 80’s and even 90’s if they are kept in the shade, and they grow well in pots with sphagnum or small bark mix (I favor moss). They like low light, high humidity and watering throughout the year but be careful not to overwater. I grow mine in net or closed pots with sphagnum moss, and I keep them in intermediate (when it’s cooler) to low (when it’s warmer) light.