Maxillaria is not a popular genera among growers. Only a few species grow big, showy flowers. But some species are nevertheless sought by collectors, mostly for the fragrance of their blossoms, such as the Coconut orchid (M. tenuifolia) See photo, right. Also fragrant is the yellow Max. variablilis.  No black orchid has ever been grown yet, but Maxillaria schunkeana is probably the closest to it. Its color is actually a very dark purple-red, giving the impression of a black flower. Click above for larger image



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The culture of Maxillarias is very similar to that given to Lycastes. The plants should be kept moist all year round and be shaded rather heavily during sunny weather. The plants with scandent rhizomes are better placed on blocks of wood or pieces of tree fern. Attention must be given to the airing should a black spot appear on the foliage. This is usually due to stagnant moisture.


In cultivation they should be treated as epiphytes; some pot-grown, some in wire baskets and slat baskets. Most of the genus prefers to grow into large undisturbed plants and small propagations are always slow to get away and make up into flowering specimens. Potting material may vary according to cultivation, but generally should be based on bark mixes which will withstand drying out. The rest periods vary greatly. Some require as long as six months but others may be in continual growth and flowering phases throughout the year. The root systems of most plants are a little more permanent than some epiphytes and surface growth rather than immersion in potting mixes seems to suit them. This leads to cork, tree fern or tree branches.


To learn more of the general cultivation of the Maxillaria, follow this link



The following Maxillaria species have been researched and individual culture sheets can be reviewed by clicking the name below.  

Maxillaria picta

Maxillaria schunkeana

Maxillaria tenuifolia

Maxillaria variabilis var. yellow




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