Black Orchids

The Masdevallia rolfeana is considered to be the true black orchid . Like the rest of the black flowers they have a great symbolic charge. 
Although in the nature the black in the flowers is very little common and in many cases it does not exist, they are colorations of very intense red or in the worse one of the cases, they are colorations produced artificially. 
In the case of the Madevallia rolfeana orchid we can suppose that the same thing happens. It is an orchid of a very dark garnet color, which under certain circumstances seems black, that is why it is considered a true black orchid. 
La Masdevallia Rolfeana is originally from Costa Rica,where it is possible to find it in its natural state in its forests, growing epiphytically on the branches of its trees. 
His name we owe it to the taxonomist of the Royal Botanic Garden of Kew, Rober Allen Rolfe.

The Black Orchid , besides being a magnificent film from the 60s and being adopted as the name of some perfume ( Black Orchid ), is a wonder of nature. 
Within the cultivation of orchids, there is one that is considered the true black orchid, the orchid Masdevallia rolfeana. 
However, we must not cheat, really “black” orchids do not exist … at least one color that we can consider authentically black. 
Most black orchids are an intense purple color, which under certain circumstances may appear black. Keep in mind that for the purple color to look black, the location of the orchid, the substrate from which it is fed, can be an important influence

Table Of Contents

  • 1 Cultivation of the Black orchid
    • 1.1 Lighting
    • 1.2 Temperatures
    • 1.3 Irrigation and humidity
    • 1.4 Fertilizer
    • 1.5 Substrate and change of pot
    • 1.6 When does the Masdevallia rolfeana orchid bloom
  • 2. Varieties of black orchids
    • 2.1 Masdevallia rolfeana
    • 2.2 Trichoglottis atropurpurea
    • 2.3 Darling channeled Yar Sparkesii
  • 3 Cultivate black orchids
  • 4 Meaning of black orchids

Cultivation of the Black orchid

Masdevallia rolfeana needs some care very similar to those of your group , but if you have this orchid at home, you’ll want to know what your preferences are and how you can get the black orchid to bloom again. 
I am going to give you some advice, so that your Masdevallia orchid develops as well as possible and flourishes year after year:


The light you receive should not be direct , it should be filtered or better, be near a window where it does not receive direct sunlight: north or northwest orientation. 
If we can not provide a window with these conditions, it is better to put it more inside the room, where it has good lighting, but without direct sunlight.


Although according to what I have been able to read and investigate, the Masdevallia rolfeana orchid withstood temperatures somewhat higher than those of its group , I prefer not to take risks offering incorrect data. 
In this sense we have to handle the temperatures of the group, which are: 
During the day between 18ºC and 24ºC 
Temperature during the night, between 13ºC and 16ºC 
If you live in a very warm climate, try to keep the Masdevallia orchids in a cool place during the months of greater heat.

Watering and humidity

We must understand that the Masdevallia are not like other orchids, they lack pseudobulbs and, therefore, do not have water reserves. 
The waterings should be similar to what you would offer to any indoor plant, always observing the substrate. 
Thus, a good irrigation pattern could be two or three times a week during the summer, to leave the irrigation once a week during the winter. 
Look closely at your orchids to detect any problem with irrigation in time. 
As for the humidity, they are orchids that despite needing partial shade and a rather cool temperature, they also need high humidity, in the environment of 60% to 80%.
We can provide it in different ways, but the simplest is to place a plate with water under the pot, putting some balls of clay or pebbles, so that the roots are not in direct contact with the water.


During the growing-blooming season, spring to summer, it is advisable to fertilize weekly, taking care to do so with the already wet substrate. 
There are different types of fertilizers for orchids. At this time of the year it is advisable to use one designed to encourage flowering, which has a greater contribution of phosphorus and potassium. 
During the rest of the year with fertilizing once a month, it will be enough to have healthy orchids.

Substrate and change of pot

Masdevallia rolfeana orchids have very fine roots, so the substrate for orchids that we use must be fine-grained. 
It has to have the usual characteristics of inert substrates for orchids, for example: fir bark, pearlite or fern fiber. 
Pot changes should be made every year, or every two years. Always with the precaution of not choosing an excessively large pot, it is better that the roots have space necessary, but not too much.

When does the Masdevallia rolfeana orchid bloom?

The Masdevallia rolfeana orchid blooms from spring to summer. 
From each stem, there appear two to three tubular pods containing 1 to 3 flowers, which are opened successively. 
The flowers measure about 7 centimeters and are of a dark garnet color, almost black.

Varieties Of Black Orchids

Masdevallia rolfeana

La Masdevallia rolfeana is an epiphytic orchid native to South America , specifically from Costa Rica. 
It is an orchid of rather low bearing. Its flowers are really original (all Masdevallia) and can reach 7 centimeters, although it is necessary to specify that it is not of diameter, since these orchid flowers have a kind of very long threads. 
Unlike many other orchids, they do not like high temperatures or a very sunny location. 
They are not very complicated to care for, but they are difficult to maintain in latitudes with very hot climates.

Trichoglottis atropurpurea

We jump on the globe and go to Asia, to find a variety of epiphytic orchids, the Trichoglottis and its atropurpurea variety, originally from the Philippines. 
I think that with the name it is clear that purple is its main color. 
They are plants of a very dark purple, but with a lip covered with white hair , usually with purple stripes and a yellow spot. 
The orchid is not completely black, it is a very dark purple or very dark red.

Darling channeled Yar Sparkesii

This Cymbidium is spectacular in its flowering, like all the orchids of this variety. 
The Cymbidium canaliculatum Var sparkesii, are native to Australia, where they grow epiphytes near the treetops. 
They need very strong lighting and a lot of water when they are growing. They are relatively simple to take care of, if we are able to get a copy. 
Its flowers are burgundy, almost black, with a white lip, sautéed with dark spots.

Grow black orchids

The truth is that if you are looking for how to grow black orchids in the net you will find all kinds of information, in many cases “bad information”. 
How you could read there are several types of black orchids , each with the characteristics of its genre. 
Most will need a well-lit site, but if we want the orchids to look very black, we must be careful not to receive direct sunlight. 
Many of the orchids do not like that direct sun, but to have black orchid flowers, the sun has to try to limit it … give the orchid just the one it needs to grow without problems. 
That is the only advice that would be “common” for all orchids, in terms of Irrigation and humidity, I recommend you discover what variety is your orchid, to provide the correct care.

Meaning of black orchids

I can not finish this article without mentioning the great symbolic load of black orchids … actually all black flowers, but orchids could occupy the top 1 in terms of mystery associated with black flowers. 
Orchids for the most part live as epiphytes, for many people, understanding this way of life is already a challenge … that a plant does not live on the substrate and can do it “from the air”, it is a mystery. 
If we add to that mystery the color black, traditionally associated with obscurantism, death and beyond, we have the complete pack of mystery. 
The really true of everything is that black orchids are really spectacular flowers in terms of beauty… Mysterious? Of course, everything that is rare, rare and unique is mysterious.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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