Phalaenopsis bastianii Orchid Care & Culture

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Species Name: Phalaenopsis bastianii

Note: I had suspicion my plant is the hybrid, Phalaenopsis Lovely Marie (bastianii x mariae) and not a “pure” species phal bastianii; however, I reached out to Olaf Gruß and he confirmed that I do indeed have a species bastianii, and he noted that this species has a lot of natural variation.

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

I got this plant in spring of 2017 and it was labeled as “Phal bastianii”; however, after some critical analysis, I suspect that it is not a pure bastianii species and instead is the hybrid, Lovely Marie (bastianii x mariae). Phal bastianii has numerous distinct differences from Phal mariae, but hybrids of the two species exhibit traits blending qualities of both parents. It is difficult to differentiate a hybrid from the species because bastianii and mariae are already so similar. My plant looks mostly like bastianii to the untrained eye, but it has some signs of mariae.

Let’s explore the differences of each speices in order to compare my plant (or yours)…

Comparing bastianii to mariae:

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.

Traits of my plant – spikes: angled; flower count: moderate but with many spikes; fragrance: none; flower structure: flat & upright; lip: wide with many trichromes, keel is low but with peak; blooms in spring (mid-to-late March).

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. In those cases, they 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).

Phal bastianii Care

Regardless of all of that, this plant grows well and is easy to care for. It gets my standard summer-blooming phalaenopsis potting mix with 25-30% sphagnum moss to perlite, bark and charcoal. The pot is watered as the roots approach dryness and receives moderately bright light in front of an east-facing window. Interestingly, phal bastianii has a unique quality in which the flower color fades over time. This trait can be passed on to their progeny/hybrids which has some interesting potential for flowers which can change color after opening.

More About Phalaenopsis bastianii

Photos of Phalaenopsis bastianii


Photos of Phalaenopsis bastianii