Help! Masde Death

cnslr81July 4, 2011

I've been struggling to keep a masdevallia alive, that I purchased back in March. I posted a few months ago, when I initially starting having problems (rapid leaf drop), but I cannot find the post for the life of me.

Here is the care info:

Located in a shaded area. Receives about 5 hours of light from a 60-watt CFL equivalent; the same lighting I used for my mounted gastrochilus (see image; the light fixture is above the elephant bush, next to gastro and aimed down and towards the masde). I have a tray with pebbles under the masde, used for humidity. I also mist the masde almost daily. I found if I give it a full watering (with or without fertilizer), it will drop leaves the next day. I have a fan on the floor aimed up to circulate the air about 5-7 hours a day. Generally, the house does not get above 76 degrees. I believe the pot it is in is a bit too large for it, however it was repotted due to my cat accidentally breaking the old pot and this was all I could find at the time. The medium is sphag.

The leaf drop has still be occurring on occasion and it is slow at producing new leaves. Today, I noticed one of the leaves looks diseased or burned. I do not believe it is some kind of insect, as it will not wipe off.

At this point, I do not know what else to do for the orchid. Can anyone help?

Thanks,

Sarah

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orchidnick

2 things:

1) The moss looks dry, it should be sopping wet with green moss growing on the surface.

2) There are 2 deformed leaves, test for virus.

What's the name of it? Is it a species or a hybrid?

Nick

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 12:01PM
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cnslr81

Hi Nick, here's an update. I've talked to someone over at Orchid Board who suggested repotting to a smaller pot and a clear pot to help with photosynthesis. I knew the pot was too big but was initially worried that it would further stress the plantI found a clear water bottle and cut to to the right size and repotted. The diseased leaf fell off when unpotting. The masde is a hybrid and unfortunately, I do not know anything more about its origins.

How do I test for a virus?

Sarah

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 2:58PM
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orchidnick

Send a sample to Critter Creek Lab.

http://www.crittercreeklab.com/

I would not waste my money unless the plant shows signs of life first.

Nick

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 6:09PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

My guess would be a bad case of false spider mites. Masdies are very susceptible to these when grown in the home in dry environments. (FYI, the humidity tray you're using is useless for increasing humidity at leaf level. It may increase humidity in the air about 1/2 inch above the pebbles, but that's it. Sorry.)

Back to the mites. They are very difficult to see, but the usual sign of them is a pitting on the upper leaf surface and on badly infected leaves a silver sheen before the leaf drops off. False spider mites are NOT the same as spider mites. They do not produce webs on the undersides of leaves. These mites can also cause a secondary fungal infection which usually does the orchid in completely. I've had 'em and they can kill plants completely if not treated and retreated a couple more times. Google: "false spider mites orchids" for treatment options.

Back to your plant. That pot still looks way too huge. Pot size is determined by root mass, not leaves. I also have no idea why someone recommended putting it in a clear pot to increase photosynthesis. I guess exposed roots can photosynthesize to some degree, but your roots aren't exposed from what I can see. The majority of photosynthesis is going to occur in the leaves anyway, so I don't think a clear pot is going to help that much. I would also guess you're not giving your plants enough light to grow, but I have no idea how many foot candles of light your plants are receiving per day. 5 hours a day from a CFL doesn't sound like enough to do much of anything.

Kevin

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 6:09AM
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cnslr81

Thanks Kevin. It is possible that the one leaf was affected by false spider mites. The leaf fell off, so I will keep an eye on the others. However, the leaves that had dropped off before, where healthy and there was no indication of disease.

I did move the masde to a window with more indirect light. It is possible that the masde went from too much light (I think that is why the leaves initially dropped) to not enough. Despite what you think about the CFL, it is the perfect light for my gastro, which is why I decided to try the masde under it.

I believe the clear pot is the right size. The root mass does take up much of the pot. It is about the size of the original pot.

Sarah

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 1:31PM
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highjack(z6 KY)

It was probably the heat from the CFL. Masdies are famous for dropping their leaves if too hot. If you have good roots it will send up new growth, it just takes a while.

Your dead leaf in the pic just looks like an old leaf getting ready to drop. If you don't have damage on the other leaves I wouldn't worry about it.

For masdies it is more important to have air to the roots than light. If this were mine I would add additional holes to the container which helps because you can keep the sphag wetter to combat heat. I also sit the container in a clay pot to give additional moisture while also providing air to the roots.

I grow mine in net pots which sit inside a clay pot. Here is what happens to the roots when they are happy.

As you can see the roots hunt the moist clay but also love the freedom from an enclosed container.

You have to test for a virus, it is possible for an orchid to be virused with no outward signs.

Brooke

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 2:27PM
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cnslr81

Thanks Brooke! The info is helpful. Masdes are one type of orchid I struggle with frequently.

Sarah

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 3:13PM
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jane__ny(9-10)

Masdes can be difficult in our zone. I agree with Brooke, the heat from the lights is not good. They want cool temperatures with lots of air circulation. I grow mine in dried tree fern with a small amount of sphag mixed in. I grow them in the same light as my Phals.

I get them outside (away from the heat and dryness) as soon as possible in Spring. I grow them outdoors under some bushes all summer.

Jane

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 8:56PM
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ifraser25(z11 Brazil)

Masdas are difficult. They must have three things: mild temperatures*, VERY humid air and plenty of ventilation (wind); they also need a fair amount of light if they are to flower successfully. It's the combination that is the problem in artificial conditions. * The "Angel" hybrids will grow at 60-80F (15-27C), but many of the species need it cooler than this. Here in Brazil I can only grow two of the warmer growing species (infracta and ferradurae) successfully.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 10:45PM
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orchidnick

The other thing they like is clean water and very little fertilizer.

Nick

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 11:19PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I sincerely doubt the problem is from the CFL light. It's kind of hard to judge distances, but from what she said:

"(see image; the light fixture is above the elephant bush, next to gastro and aimed down and towards the masde)."

That's too far away (what, maybe a foot or more?) to cause problems from heat. Plus the light isn't directly above the plant, it's at an angle. Heat is going to travel upwards. Also if heat from the light were the problem, all the leaves should show damage. They don't. If anything, I would say the plant is light starved. It isn't growing and from what I can see, this plant hasn't produced a new leaf in some time.

Moving it closer to the window was probably a good idea. For the summer months, mine are in a south window with the blinds adjusted so the plants receive diffused sunlight most of the day. Luckily, if your plant is happier in it's new location, your should see some results rather soon. That's one nice thing about Masdies, they respond quickly to better growing conditions. However, as others have said they aren't the easiest plants to grow.

Kevin

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 6:11AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Forgot to say.

When you said "60-watt CFL equivalent", you meant a 23 watt actual bulb right?? If so, that's what I use for my Masdies in the winter and these lights are hung about 9 inches directly above the plants. They don't produce enough heat to cause burning.

Kevin

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 6:27AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Oops.

Again, back to your bulb. a 60 watt equivalent CFL bulb would be a 26 watt actual, not a 23 watt as I previously stated. (I think that's correct if I remember correctly.) Also in taking another look at your second photo, it looks like the light source is probably more than a foot from the Masdie - maybe 2 feet? Again, it's hard to judge. In any case 5 hours of light from a bulb that far away from the plant would not cause burning. No way.

A light starved plant (a weak plant) is far more susceptible to attack from various pests then a healthy plant. I still wouldn't rule out false spider mites.

Kevin

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 7:07AM
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cnslr81

The wattage of a CFL that is a 60 watt equivalent is not 26 watts, it is 13 watts. I do agree with you that I don't think the masde was receiving too much heat from the CFL, b/c if that were the case, I think the gastro would suffer as well. So far, no leaves have dropped since the move to the new window. I did notice some spotting on a leaf, possibly a fungicide or disease from insects, so I lightly sprayed with Indoor Pharm.

Sarah

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:51AM
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whitecat8(z4 MN)

Hi Sarah,

This may be way off-base, and I have no idea if it applies to plants or potting media, but research indicates a lot of plastic containers shouldn't be reused because of the risk of BHPs leaching into contents, esp. if the plastic is heated - dishwasher, hot water, left in a hot car, etc.

Some advise not reusing plastic water bottles from the grocery store or convenience store - the sizes for individual use.

The plastic pot looks too large to me too. I don't recall seeing a pot that large and deep in proportion to the spread of the leaves.

Kudos to you for working with Masdes. In the house, they can be difficult.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 5:04PM
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