Phalaenopsis mariae Orchid Care & Culture

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Species Name: Phalaenopsis mariae

Subgenus: Polychilos | Section: Zebrinae
Related Species: bastianii, corningiana, fasciata, fimbriata, inscriptiosinensis, maculata, 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: Sabah, Borneo; Mindanao island, Philippines
Elevation: Under 600m (warm/hot growing)

I got this phal in spring of 2017 at the same time as my Phal bastianii and potted them together in the same pot. It’s hard to find true species of either bastianii or mariae because they were once regarded as the same species (leading to interbreeding under the premise that the two species were actually the same). If you want to know more about that, check out the post on Phal bastianii which covers more of the differences between bastianii & mariae.

Traits of phal mariae – spikes: pendant; flower count: prolific; fragrance: yes (smells like citrus blossoms or zested tangerines); 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.

Phalaenopsis mariae Care

Phal mariae has been regarded as difficult by some and it is fairly rare in cultivation. It is a lowland, hot-growing species from the Sabah region of Borneo, and from the Mindanao island of the Philippines. That means this species will do best in hot and humid conditions with lower light. All of that said…I don’t offer high humidity or high temps OR low light – haha!

Phalaenopsis mariae on map of Southeast Asia

I grow my plant in intermediate light at an East-facing window with additional LED grow lights (12w/square foot at about 18″ from the plant). The light is bright enough that I see some slight chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves, but to help combat this I provide a weekly well-balanced fertilizer (MSU formula) — and I find bright light ensures more flowers and prevents a growth halt in winter (when days are shorter in the Northern hemisphere).

Photo of Phal mariae & bastianii leaves in high light
Phal mariae has the darker leaves behind the yellow (bastianii)

Overall mariae is a slower grower than many of my other phals (likely because it is a species AND because it prefers hotter conditions than I offer), but it grows consistently and is easy to care for putting out lots of roots and 2 spikes the first time it bloomed. I have it potted in my standard summer-blooming phalaenopsis orchid media with 25-30% sphagnum moss to a blend of perlite, bark and charcoal. You will see in the photos that the top of the pot looks like all moss – that’s because I put a thin layer on top of the potting mix to ensure humidity at the base of the plant (where new roots emerge) stays high. The pot is watered as the roots approach dryness and I would say that the roots dry out more than my other summer-bloomers – often turning fully white before I water again.

Flowers opened in late June (around the 26th), and the fragrance is nearly identical to my Phal Li Sun High (mariae x tetraspis), which I think smells like a mix of Diet Coke and cilantro. Oddly specific, I know…think, “synthetic sweetness” + “soapy-green”

Should you get a Phalaenopsis mariae for your collection?

Yes, get this plant if you like lots of fragrant flowers (but make sure you get the species mariae, and not a hybrid w/ phal bastianii – phal bastianii and the hybrid, Phal Lovely Marie are both NOT FRAGRANT). If you’re not fussy about fragrance, you may prefer the hybrid, Lovely Marie, which will be faster growing, have better form and will likely produce an exceptionally high flower count as the plant matures.

No, don’t get this plant if you are looking for flat and round “award-worthy” flowers. Phal mariae flowers are cupped and point down – this may be a deal breaker for people who want that classic flower presentation. My opinion is that you’ll get more satisfaction from this this species (compared to a chunky & round bellina) simply because of amount of flowers it produces in a single flush. I’ve seen specimens of this plant which are loaded with 50 or more flowers at once and it makes for a stunning presentation!

 

Phalaenopsis mariae Photos


 

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