Tough Masdevallia Withstands Strong Winds

It’s a common belief that all orchids are delicate and fragile, unable to adapt to any adverse conditions. A few orchids may fit that description, but many others are tough as nails. This magnificent yellow Masdevallia fits into the “tough as nails” category. Despite any flimsy appearances, these big, brilliant flowers can withstand strong winds.

Masdevallia coccinea var. xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species, yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea var. xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species, yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea var. xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species, close up view of yellow flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

I bought this beauty last year at the gift shop of the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley. It’s lived outdoors at our home in Pacifica ever since. With sunny, yellow 4 inch (10.1 cm) blooms at the top of 2 foot (61 cm) tall flower stems, it’s a real standout. It looks so delicate, but these flowers defy strong winds coming off the ocean. I keep the plant next to a wall in a sheltered spot, but it still endures occasional 50 mph (80 km/h) wind gusts. It also endures a steady assault of old blossoms and leaves raining down from a nearby camellia tree. After a month, the flowers are starting to look beaten up, but I’m just amazed that they’re standing at all.

Masdevallia coccinea var. xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species, yellow flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea var. xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species, yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea var. xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species, close up view of yellow flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

While it would be impossible for many orchid growers to keep these outdoors, here on the Northern California coast, it’s a piece of cake. This species,¬†Masdevallia coccinea, is native to the Andes, where it lives in cool, breezy, moist conditions. I keep it shaded from direct sun, and water it daily. Our cool, foggy weather seems to provide a great substitute for its native home. This Masdevallia is a beautiful addition to our garden, and a testament to how tough orchids can be.

Masdevallia coccinea var. xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species, side view of yellow flower bud opening, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea var. xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species, side view of yellow flower bud opening, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea var. xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species, side view of yellow flower bud opening, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

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One Comment on “Tough Masdevallia Withstands Strong Winds”

  1. Sherlyn Says:

    We still cannot quite believe your orchid could survive such a wind storm. It is so beautiful it looks like there was no damage to it at all. Sincerely thankful on your generosity for these beautiful pictures and story.