Maxillaria tenuifolia (updated 11 August 2013)

miaxillaria tenuifolia

Maxillaria tenuifolia, also known as the Pina Colada orchid or the coconut pie orchid is known for its’ scent. To me it reminds me of sunscreen. Maxillaria tenuifolia is a species that originates from central to southern America. It is said to be an easer grower provided you keep it evenly moist and let it stand in a place with sufficient air movement.

It produces singular, rather small, flowers on short spikes.

It is natually epiphytic and sometimes terrestrial.

It can take fairly bright, but only indirect sunshine and should be placed somewhere between your cattleyas and phalaenopsis in terms of light conditions. It is temperature tolerant and can thrive in night temperatures from 10 – 30 ºC.

In the wild the tenuifolia receives ample amounts of water during the rainy season and then normally live through a dry spell for a few months afterwards. On the northern hemisphere that means lots of water from December to May and then reduced watering up to November. For me on the southern hemisphere, I’m not sure…but I will try to provide lots of water during the summer here, and then keep it a bit drier during the winter time.



25 December 2012: Can I first of all say that I love all my orchids…except my Maxillaria tenuifolias (and a couple of neglected NOID oncidiums). My maxillarias (I have two) and I are just not on good terms and I’m at a point where I’m saying: I don’t care. Do whatever you want. Die, if you like. 

The poor things are without doubt suffering under my neglect. The only thing that makes me still keep them is that I now have a green house, and maybe, miraculously, they will like it. The other reason is of course that they are not dead yet. And I have a policy to not, never ever, throw an orchid that is not completely rotten or petrified. So, they are still around. Barely.

Maxillaria tenuifolia

The worst of the two. This one was potted in a clear pot in a combination of fir bark and coir today. I was surprised to find a couple of root that are still alive. I cut off a couple of rotten pseudobulbs and a lot of bad roots. Now lets see…this is the critical point, I think.

maxillaria tenuifolia

The one with slightly more hope and potential. Some months ago, I decided to clean up this plant in the most brutal way. I tore it apart and made several small plants that I then put back together again in the same pot. The reason why? Well, this Maxillaria was just getting too high and lanky and with very little substance, and I didn’t like its appearance. By taking it apart, I could get rid of some old, rotting bulbs and sort out the roots. It actually looks as if it enjoyed the mistreatment. At least the new shoots look fairly plump and well.

Of all my orchids I find that the Maxillaria tenuifolias are the ones that accumulate the most lime deposits on their leaves. I will try to collect rainwater outside of the green house this rainy season to water with that instead. It will do all the plants a lot of good, but especially these buggers should benefit from it.

Note to self: NEVER, EVER buy a new tenuifolia until you think you know how to care for them. They are discouraging and frustrating.

11 August 2013: More than half a year has passed since the last updates on the maxillarias. Since then, I’ve been crazy enough to expand my maxillaria collection to also include a maxillaria rubescens and and maxillaria porphyrstele. Whatever happened?!

While one of the tenuifolias dried up and died, the other one is doing remarkably well. It’s growing new bulbs and they are plump and bright green and healthy! I’m so happy about it I almost start to like Maximillian, as my hubby called him. I guess it’s too optimistic to hope for flowers this summer, but I can safely say that this plant is on the right track at the moment. Now all I have to do is to keep it there.

2 thoughts on “Maxillaria tenuifolia (updated 11 August 2013)

  1. Silje – wow, those earlier shots of your Max Ten were sad! Glad they are coming around to your culture conditions.
    I read somewhere they like a dryish winter break from watering (helps with flowering apparently; this is the first winter I’ve tried this), but otherwise I tend to keep mine quite damp. It seems quite easy to grow, but then I use RO water, so perhaps that makes a difference?

    • I know, I know. It was such a sad looking thing it almost ended up in the compost. But then it turns out that it really loves the greenhouse! And now it’s putting out 8-10 new growths and the new bulbs are plump and have a nice, bright green color. The thing is, even if I hardly ever admit it, I must have a weak spot (despite all) for maxillarias, because I tend to end up with them. I’ve got no idea how the max. rufescens and porphystele managed to sneak past my defenses, but they did. We had a terrible rainy season last year and there just was nothing to gather and save up, but I will try to collect rain again this year to use for the plants. With drums under all the gutters I should be able to collect some liters now and then for watering.

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