Maxillaria Tenuifolia Care


A large genus such as Maxillaria, a member of the orchid family, is represented by epiphytes. This genus includes more than 300 species of plants, which naturally occur in the tropics and subtropics of America. At the same time, these plants have quite strong morphological differences. As a result of this diversity is pronounced, it is currently proposed to divide this genus into several separate ones.

orchid maxillaria tenuifolia

Although the genus is quite extensive, only a few species that have fragrant or large flowers are grown at home. The most popular is the narrow-leaved maxillaria (Maxillaria tenuifolia). Under natural conditions, it is found in areas stretching from Nicaragua to Mexico.

This rather compact sympodial orchid has slightly flattened, smooth egg-shaped pseudobulbs, which are 1.5 inches long and 1 inches wide. The pseudobulbs are located fairly close to each other on a rhizome (a stalked, horizontally arranged ground stem). They grow by “stairs”, that is, each young pseudobulb begins to grow somewhat higher than the previous one, because the rhizome is not pressed to the soil surface, and with time it gradually rises. Young pseudobulbs are single-leafed, while older ones become “bald”. Strap-shaped leathery leaves have a pointed end and a pronounced central vein, while young ones are folded along it. They reach a length of 35 centimeters and a width of only 1 centimeter.

In the wild, the maxillaria tenuifolia plant blooms in June-July. Short (about 5 centimeters) flower stalks develop at the base of the young sprouts, and they bear only one fragrant flower each. The distinctly zygomorphic flowers are quite large, so that they reach about 5 centimeters in diameter. The 3 sepals (sepals, which are often confused with petals) are lanceolate in shape and have a slightly curved backward edge. Their length is 2.5 centimeters and width is 0.5 inches, but they are arranged relative to each other at an angle of 120 degrees. Two opposing true petals (petals) are 0.7 inches long and 0.3 inches wide. Externally, they resemble the auricles, all because they are located almost perpendicular to the surface of the calyx, with their tips slightly bent. The large lip (3rd petal) is similar in appearance to a protruding long tongue. The reproductive organ of the flower (column) is up to 0.5 inches long and has a slightly curved hook-shaped tip. The flower color is mostly red, with the base of the sepals and petals and the column turning yellow. The lip is also yellow, with many reddish spots on its surface.

This kind of orchid, unlike other representatives of the extensive orchid family, does not have such a spectacular appearance. However, many florists grow it for the unique fragrance of the flowers, similar to pineapple.

Care of a maxillaria orchid in the home

Maxillaria is most suitable for cultivation by experienced maxillaria tenuifolia. In order for the plant to develop and flower normally, he needs to provide special conditions of maintenance, which is sometimes not so easy to do in-room conditions. Experts advise using of orchidariums, specialized greenhouses, or terrariums for its cultivation.

orchid maxillaria tenuifolia

Illumination and temperature

In order to successfully grow this type of orchid for it is necessary to choose the appropriate temperature regime and lighting.

Maxillaria tenuifolia narrow-leaved in natural conditions prefers to grow in the mountains, so it needs a lot of light and not too high air temperature. Such bright light and coolness is required by the flower all year round. In this regard, he is recommended illumination with special photo lamps, it is worth remembering that the duration of the daylight hours during the whole year should be 10 to 12 hours. And the optimal level of light necessary for the flower is not less than 6000-8000 lux.

Should protect this orchid from direct sunlight. This is not due to the high degree of illumination that they carry, but due to the increase in air temperature. The fact is that this flower needs moderate temperatures, and it reacts extremely negatively to heat. Thus, the optimal temperatures for its cultivation are 18 to 22 degrees. In this regard, on the windows of the southern orientation put orchid maxillaria tenuifolia can not, because even if it and shade, the air temperature will still be high.

It is worth remembering that such a plant can completely replace sunlight with artificial light. At the same time for lighting, you need to use necessarily special phytolamps. Due to this, orchids can be allocated the coolest corner in the apartment, where it will not reach the sun’s rays, as well as warm air heated by heating appliances. This genus of orchids differs from almost all others in that it does not require a mandatory temperature difference during the day for the laying of flower stalks.


This genus of orchids has another difference from the rest of the orchid family.

orchid maxillaria tenuifolia

The fact is that on the surface of its roots there is no porous protective layer (velamen), which is designed to prevent rapid evaporation of accumulated moisture. In this regard, over-drying the substrate flower is contraindicated because as a result of this starts to die off the roots. But do not pour a lot of maxillaria tenuifolia flower, because the stagnant water in the substrate on the root system can cause rot. Watering should be such that the substrate in the pot is always slightly moist (not wet).

Water only soft water, the acidity of which is equal to 5-6 рН. In this case, experts recommend using well-distilled water, which must be filtered. Watering is carried out by completely immersing the pot or block in a basin filled with water. Take the orchid out after 20-30 minutes and wait until the excess liquid drains off. Only then it can be put back in its usual place.


Maxillaria tenuifolia can grow in a room with dry air, but it is best if the humidity is kept at 70 percent. To increase humidity, it is recommended to use household humidifiers and steam generators. Thus, the pot can be placed on a tray filled with pebbles with the addition of not very much water. It is also recommended to moisten the flower from a sprayer, but only to carry out such a procedure preferably in the morning and evening (not in the afternoon).


Blocks, pots or special hanging baskets can be used to grow this kind of orchid maxillaria tenuifolia. But at the same time to maxillaria tenuifolia plant in a pot maxillaria is not recommended because of the particular growth “staircase”, because after only 12 months, the flower will fall on its side under its own weight. To avoid this, it is recommended to buy in a flower store supports made of tubes and covered with a layer of coconut fiber. They are placed in the container necessarily at a slope. As a result, the rhizoma will grow under this support, the roots being fixed in the coconut fiber.

orchid maxillaria tenuifolia

To plant such an orchid perfectly suits sphagnum, and any other additives are not required.

As a block use a large piece of pine bark, and it must be long. Pre-wrapped sphagnum roots and rhizome, should be firmly fixed on the surface of the block.


Fertilizing is carried out during intensive growth 1 time in 14-20 days. To do this, use a special complex fertilizer for orchids, and take ¼-1/6 of the recommended dosage on the package.

Propagation methods

Propagate orchid maxillaria tenuifolia grown in room conditions, you can only divide the rhizoma into parts. Remember that the division must have at least 3 adult pseudobulbs.

For propagation in industrial conditions, seeds are used, as well as the meristem method (cloning).

Peculiarities of transplanting

Transplanting is carried out only in case of extreme necessity. For example, after the plant no longer fits in the pot or on the block.

Diseases and pests

Resistant to diseases and pests. However, if the care rules are not followed or the flower is placed in a climate unfavorable for it, it dries very quickly.

Features of maxillaria tenuifolia flowering

If the light and temperature regime will be correct, then flowering can come in any of the months. After blooming, the flower fades only after 30-40 days, and the duration of flowering is on average 4 months.


10 photos to Maxillaria Tenuifolia Care

orchid maxillaria tenuifolia