Q. Where can you buy a monkey orchid?
The unusual “monkey orchids” were previously included in the Masdevallia genus but are now categorized as Dracula (meaning little dragon). Today approximately 90 species that are found in moist forests, mostly in western Colombia and Ecuador, are recognized. Draculas are very popular in hobbyist collections and many species and hybrids are now in cultivation.
With the increase in popularity for a relatively unusual orchid, be aware that some sellers who claim to provide seed of monkey orchids actually send mislabeled seed that is not what they claim it to be. A further caution: orchid seed is dust-like and requires very specialized techniques and environment to germinate and then the plants will take several years to reach blooming size (3 - 8 years depending on the species). It is far better to buy an established plant.
This group of orchids from the cloud forests of Central and South America, require cool, moist, humid conditions year-round to thrive. Many of the species will suffer and decline if temperatures are often above 80 F for any period of time. Another drawback is that many species will have flowers that collapse if the relative humidity is less than 75 - 80% and the blooms will be short lived. (That is a VERY high humidity to try to maintain in a home.) The blooms are relatively small with flowers being 1 - 2” in diameter.
These orchids are not recommended for the beginning orchid grower because of the specific conditions they need to prosper. For more advanced orchid gardeners that have the tools to provide the growing environment, some of the easier species to cultivate are Dracula erythrochaete, Dracula bella and Dracula cordobae.
There are a number of specialty nurseries that grow the plants but be assured they will not thrive or bloom if their conditions are less than ideal.
Plants are available from:
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information