Tropical Flowers

Maxillaria Orchids – Botanical Description and Growing Conditions

Maxillaria belongs to the Orchidaceae family and is a large genus. There are many different morphological forms in this genus. Flame orchids, Spider orchids and tiger orchids are all common names for them. The name Maxillaria is derived from the Latin word Maxilla, meaning jawbone.

These flowers stand out for their deep red triangular flowers and tall, thin foliage that resembles grass. These lovely plants, well-known for having a coconut scent, will fill your house with a delightful aroma.

Native to Latin America, the Maxillaria genus grows at low elevations up to 1500 m. Because of this, these plants are used to having a dry season from December through April and a wet season the rest of the year, when they receive a lot of rainfall.

An epiphytic plant called Maxillaria tenuifolia commonly grows on trees in tropical forests. These do, however, occasionally become terrestrial plants. They have a propensity for climbing development as they try to penetrate the tree crowns for light.

Size and Growth

The Maxillaria is a sympodial orchid that thrives in warmer climates at comparatively lower elevations. It can grow as tall as 25 inches at its tallest. The plant eventually grows bushy. This orchid grows faster than most others, and in the rainforests, it grows upward to reach the light.

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The pseudobulbs of Maxillaria tenuifolia grow on top of one another, which is a distinctive characteristic. One pseudobulb is adding to the other. However, the roots of every pseudobulb extend deep into the soil. The papery layer on the pseudobulbs can be left in place.


Maxillaria flower has thin, elongated leaves that resemble grass. Even without flowers, the plant is appealing due to its grass-like foliage. The bases of the leaves are flat pseudobulbs. Low light levels result in whip-like leaves, which give the plant an untidy appearance. It’s time to move the plant to a brighter location if you see it growing too lanky.


Small, triangular flowers of the Maxillaria bloom in the spring and summer. They feature yellow or brown dots with a dark red tint. The hue of one plant could differ somewhat from another. This orchid is known as the Maxillaria because of its coconut-scented flowers.

The flowers are between one and one and a half inches across. Additionally, each spike only has one bloom. The pseudobulb gives rise to the inflorescence with a solitary bloom. The blooms’ 10- to 12-day blooming period occurs between summer and spring.


The rich red bloom of Maxillaria is unusual and develops from a single flower stem. The lip has red patches, either white or yellow, resembling leopard print. Each clone’s spotting is distinct and follows the same pattern, bloom after bloom.

The fragrant blossoms can last up to 10 days and bloom from spring through summer. The flowers have slender stems and appear to be camouflaged beneath the leaves. The flowers’ potent sweet coconut scent may fill large spaces with their beautiful aroma.

Plant Care

If you want the flower to bloom, one of the most important things is to take care of Maxillaria and consider a few crucial factors about its light needs, water needs, soil mix, humidity needs, and fertilizer needs.

For optimum outcomes, try to imitate natural circumstances in your house. Learn about its fundamental growth requirements by reading our guide below.


The Maxillaria needs direct, bright lighting. You can put your plant on a windowsill with an east or west-facing direction. Additionally, they will flourish in well-lit greenhouses and under fluorescent lighting.

They ought to have between 1500 and 3500-foot candles of light in total. They can stand up to 5000-foot candles, though. Your Maxillaria’s long, grass-like foliage will probably spread if you place it in a low-light setting since the plant will be trying to catch more light.

Like most flowers, you shouldn’t keep them in solid sunlight because it could harm the plant.


Maxillaria thrives in temperatures in the middle. The ideal temperature is between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during winter nights. The plant can withstand temperatures that are several degrees warmer throughout the summer.

Even though it is a tolerant plant, do not leave it in temperatures outside of this range for an extended period of time. Make sure the plant isn’t always exposed to a cold draft coming from the window.


These flowers prefer humidity levels of at least 50% and 70%. If the space where you keep the flower is dry, you can boost it by using a humidity tray. If the air humidity is less than 50%, another option is to spritz the plant every day to boost the humidity.


The Maxillaria’s watering schedule should reflect the wet and dry seasons in its habitat. During the dry season, you should let the medium dry out in between waterings. So the ideal watering schedule is every two to three weeks from December through April. It is time to water if the pseudobulbs are wrinkled, indicating that your plant is dry.

You should water it roughly four to five times weekly throughout the wet season. Remember that these plants require constant watering because they receive a lot of rain during this time. Even so, you should wait a little while before watering. However, take care not to overwater it during this period, as this could cause root rot.

To prepare the plant for the impending dry season, you should start progressively reducing watering frequency around September.


Early April is the ideal time to start utilizing fertilizer. You can use nitrogen-rich enricher fertilizer every week throughout this period. This kind of fertilizer will help your plant’s metabolism and general growth. Use phosphorus-based fertilizers in the late summer to encourage an extended flowering cycle.

Potting Mix and Pot

Consider putting Maxillaria on tree ferns or cork to give it the most natural appearance possible. Since it naturally grows on tree branches as an epiphytic plant, mounting is a fantastic option.

Additionally, you can grow Maxillaria with fir bark, coir, perlite, and any other mixture that prevents the roots from staying consistently wet, like potting soil. A hanging basket with coconut husk at the bottom works well for this plant. The long, grass-like leaves can fall gracefully because of the basket.

If the plant is in a relatively dry area, a coating of perlite and sphagnum moss can help with some water retention. Remember that the medium needs to have enough drainage. To prevent sogginess, sphagnum moss should only make up a maximum of 20% of the media.

You may also include horticultural charcoal in your Maxillaria s potting mixture. The charcoal prevents the plant from becoming acidic and aids in the removal of standing water.


If your Maxillaria is beginning to droop significantly over the edge of the pot, it may be time to repot it. Repotting is excellent if the flower appears worn out and would benefit from fresh soil.

After a round of blooming, you ought to think about repotting. If necessary, you can repot the Maxillaria every two years.

You should use a smaller, more compact pot rather than a larger one. Because a container larger than necessary may result in the roots rotting, you want to have a limited amount of potting soil in contrast to the roots.

Remove any rotting components from your Maxillaria before continuing, leaving only the healthy bulbs. Before repotting, clean the roots and the scissors with a plant-specific disinfectant for increased safety.

Light Requirements

Maxillaria prefers bright, filtered sunlight and has medium light needs. Provide curtain-filtered light during the day if your Maxillaria is positioned in a south-facing window because the afternoon sun might scorch the leaves.

Try to position the flower in a location with sufficient ventilation and all-day indirect light. Additionally, it thrives in fluorescent sodium lighting and grows in lights.

Hang the flower in a location where it can get frequent watering if you are growing it mounted on a piece of cork or tree fern. The Maxillaria will thrive in a setting as close to its original habitat as possible in a location below a tree where it can also get rainwater.

Window sills with an east or west orientation that provide the Maxillaria with brilliant, indirect light are also beneficial for its development. Your Maxillaria’s leaves will lengthen and point upward in search of light if you set it in an area where it doesn’t get enough light. This will make the plant leggy.

Water Requirements

The Maxillaria prefers damp soil. Maintain constant moisture in the soil mixture, but refrain from overwatering to prevent soggy conditions. Wet soil conditions can bring on root rot. To avoid root rot, keep the area around the roots well-ventilated.

When the pseudobulbs start to wrinkle, it’s time to water since the Maxillaria is dehydrated. Throughout the growing season, water it four to five times per week. Allow the soil mixture to dry up between waterings while growing the Maxillaria indoors, especially in the winter. However, do not allow it to dry for too long, as this will result in pseudobulbs that are wrinkled.

Soil Mix

Maxillaria thrives when affixed to a cork or a tree fern. It is the most organic way to raise this particular species of Maxillaria . Make sure to hydrate the flower many times per day throughout the dry summer months if you grow it mounted on bark or cork.

Watering is required two to three times a day to keep the flower moist because tree ferns cannot retain moisture for an extended period. Maxillaria is also grown by some people on sphagnum moss mounted on cork.

Another approach to grow is in a mixture of two parts bark chips and one part peat moss in a well-ventilated plastic or clay pot. For drainage, add perlite or charcoal. It aids in clearing up problems involving stagnant water.

Hanging baskets are a great way to display coconut orchids because they let the leaves to fall gracefully. Maxillaria grows best on slabs of tree fern and hanging baskets made of coconut husks.

Both allow for spontaneous growth and encourage it in epiphytic orchids. To cultivate the flower, pick from fir bark, coconut husk, or bark chips. Sphagnum moss should not be used exclusively as it stores moisture for a long time and can cause root rot.

Types of Maxillaria

The plant from this genus, known as Maxillaria picta is unique. Produces 1.5 to 2 inch-diameter flowers that are native to Brazil. These flowers often have yellow petals that turn white at the tips. The borders of the sepals and petals are dark red, and the flowers have a strong scent. This epiphytic orchid develops quickly and frequently forms many growths in a single season.

Maxillaria schunkeana is a noteworthy Maxillaria orchid. This orchid, which is endemic to Brazil, has modest-sized flowers. So why is this species so significant? The hue of this orchid’s flowers is its main selling point.

Although a black Maxillaria has never been developed, this plant frequently gives the impression of being black thanks to its dark purple-red blossoms. Most Maxillaria produces spherical or oblong pseudobulbs with one or two apical leaves that are centrally veined. These pseudobulbs can cluster on a small rhizome in certain species while remaining dispersed on an extended rhizome in others. From the pseudobulb’s base, inflorescences appear, each of which bears a solitary flower. The flower spikes are small (between 2 and 3 inches), never exceeding the length of the leaves.


If you enjoy soft scents and want to give your home garden some color, Maxillaria is the plant for you. The Maxillaria still has lovely grass-like leaves even when it isn’t blooming. The magnificent blossoms of the Maxillaria fill the space with a wonderful scent when they bloom. Get the coconut-scented Maxillaria for your home to create the ideal tropical atmosphere!


How do you take care of a Maxillaria?

Keep it wet and in high light for easy maintenance. It can withstand a broad spectrum of light and intense light up to 5000-foot candles. It prefers dampness and can withstand significant amounts of water on its roots. Not much more, except indulging in the fragrance in March -April when they bloom.

How often do Maxillaria bloom?

The Maxillaria will bloom every year in the spring and early summer if given the right care, and it should continue to bloom for a few months.

What is the secret to growing Maxillaria?

Lots of indirect Sunlight: Light is the secret to cultivating magnificent Maxillaria and getting them to bloom continuously. They enjoy lots of diffused light.