Phalaenopsis bastianii Orchid Care & Culture

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Species Name: Phalaenopsis bastianii

Note: I had suspicion my plant was a hybrid between bastianii and mariae (a common occurrence when purchasing either “species”); however, I reached out to Olaf Gruß and he confirmed that my plant is a species bastianii and he noted that bastianii often has a lot of natural variation—if you want to know more about comparing mariae from bastianii, please skim down past “Care.”

Subgenus: Polychilos | Section: Zebrinae
Related Species: corningiana, fasciata, fimbriata, inscriptiosinensis, maculata, mariae, modesta, pulchra, reichenbachiana, speciosa, sumatrana, tetraspis

Care Group:
 See Phalaenopsis Care, Culture and Tips to Keep Your Orchid Reblooming
Advanced Care: See Summer Blooming Phals
Origin: Sulu Archipelago, Philippines

Phalaenopsis bastianii on map of Southeast Asia

Phal bastianii Care

An easy grower, this species comes from the Philippines in similar areas which are home to many seasonally-cool spikers such as Phal amabilis, sanderiana, schilleriana, and philippinensis. That means that while it is a “warm growing phal”, seasonal variation in temperature seems to trigger spike initiation in winter, with the flowers opening in early spring. My plant typically starts new inflorescence around January with flowers opening in early spring (March/April) about 3 months later. Unlike many hot-growing phalaenopsis, the roots of bastianii tolerate dryer conditions (similar to many “standard phals”), and if you have good success with classic complex-hybrid phals, I suspect you should have success with this species too. It may just be a good plant to try transitioning to the summer bloomers.

Potting media & watering: It gets a more moisture-retentive summer-blooming phalaenopsis potting mix with 25-30% sphagnum moss to perlite, bark and charcoal. However, it produces aerial roots with ease and I imagine that with effective hydration, you could use pretty much any mix for phalaenopsis. The pot is watered as the roots approach dryness and receives moderately bright light in front of an east-facing window.

Flowers: Although the flowers are not fragrant, they are long-lasting (compared to many other Polychilos species) with flowers typically holding for 3-4 weeks. Phal bastianii flowers have a unique quality where the color of the blossom fades in the weeks following opening which can change color giving the impression of different colored flowers on the same plant. This trait can be passed on to their progeny/hybrids as well which (in my humble opinion) has some interesting potential for breeding.

Phal bastianii flower color change (Same plant)



Two Often-Confused Species – Comparing bastianii to mariae

Both Phal bastianii and Phal mariae come from the same general area AND they tend to be quite similar looking, so plants in cultivation are often confused. Some plants sold are also hybrids within the two, so let’s look at the differences of each species:

Traits of phal bastianii – spikes: upright; flower count: few; fragrance: none; flower structure: flat & upright facing; lip: slender with few trichromes (hairs on the lip), keel (lift at back of lip) is low; bloom time: spring (March thru May), spikes emerge in winter.

Traits of phal mariae – spikes: pendant; flower count: prolific; fragrance: yes (smells like citrus blossoms); flower structure: concaved/cupped flowers that point down; lip: wide and has many trichromes (hairs on lip), keel is high and peaks; bloom time: summer (June/July), spike emerge in spring

Traits of phal Lovely Marie (bastianii x mariae hybrid) – results in a range of variation for each trait depending on whether it’s a primary cross (bastianii x mariae), a cross of two hybrids (Lovely Marie x Lovely Marie), or a back-crossing of Lovely Marie on to a true bastianii. This makes pinpointing differences difficult because it’s means a plant may appear mostly like one species but have a few traits of the other mixed in.

Visually comparing Lovely Marie, bastianii, and mariae
You can see that my “suspect Lovely Marie” has a wide lip like the mariae species

A closer look comparing Phal Lovely Marie to bastianii and mariae

Why the confusion between mariae and bastianii?

MANY of the plants labeled as either mariae OR bastianii are actually muddied hybrids because at one point the two species were not considered different and were both classified as “Phal mariae.” This is a common problem with taxonomy of “similar-looking plants” because at one point they are often referred to as a “form” (fma) of the other species. It has happend with Phal violacea and bellina, with tetraspis and speciosa, and with pretty much all species in the subgenus Aphyllae. In those cases, plants often get bred together as “species” (because as far as the Breeder knows, they are the same species). Then one day far into the future, after the reclassification has been completed, the species are split…but the historic breeding records of the existing plants are no longer accurate and “old” mariae plants are now possibly Lovely Marie because the were once bred with the other species under the guise that they were the same species.

This happens quite a bit in the world of phals and you will see similar problems with: violacea vs. bellina, pallens vs. heiroglyphica vs. lueddemanniana, and with the above mentioned: bastianii vs. mariae vs. maculata (the last species of which I’m mentioning, but not including in this assessment).

Next steps: there is a more reliable way to determine if a plant is a species or hybrid, and that is to self the plant (breed with itself). If the plant is a species, the offspring will all be uniform; however, if it is a hybrid then the traits will be more widely distributed across the siblings. I have pollinated my plant and am currently waiting on the seed pod (which I’ll sow and grow up to see if it’s a species or not).

More About Phalaenopsis bastianii

Photos of Phalaenopsis bastianii

Photos of Phalaenopsis bastianii