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). If you want to know more about that, check out the post on Phal bastianii which covers more of the differences between bastianii & mariae. For this post, because my plant is a mariae species (not the hybrid Phal Lovely Marie), I won’t distract you any longer.

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. But…I don’t offer high humidity or low light – haha

Phalaenopsis mariae on map of Southeast Asia

I grow my plant in intermediate light at an East-facing window that receives LED grow lights in the afternoons. I do see some chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves despite dosing with CalMag AND pH-adjusting for non-CalMag applications because the light is so bright — I find bright light ensures more flowers and prevents a growth halt in winter.

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, 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). You may prefer a hybrid which will be faster growing, but should still produce the high flower count.

No, If you are looking for flat and round “award-worthy” flowers. Phal mariae has flowers that are cupped and point down – this is a deal breaker for some people. But if you asked me to compare this to a chunky & round bellina, I’d say you’ll get more satisfaction from this plant simply because of amount of flowers it produces in a single flush. I’ve seen specimens of this plant and they’re stunning!


Phalaenopsis mariae Photos


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