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 around late February to 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 after they open, 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.

Phal bastianii flower color change (Same plant)


Seed Pod Maturation: seems longer than most phals – my plant held a pod for a full 11 months before I removed it and did a green pod sowing. Might not be the norm, but interesting none the less.



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 as species are also hybrids between the two species, so let’s look at the traits of phal bastianii vs. phal mariae:

Traits of phal bastianii – spikes: upright; flower count per spike (2-5/spike): few; fragrance: none; flower structure: flat & upright; lip: slender with few trichromes (hairs), 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 (4-8/spike); fragrance: yes (smells like citrus blossoms); flower structure: concaved/cupped flowers that point down; lip: wide and has many trichromes (hairs), keel is high and peaks; bloom time: summer (June/July); spikes: 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 species of mariae or bastianii. This makes pinpointing differences difficult because 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 both classified as the same species, “Phal mariae.” This is a common problem with taxonomy of “similar-looking plants” and at one point many similar species were often referred to as a “form” (fma) of the other similar species. It has happened with Phal violacea and bellina, with tetraspis and speciosa (which have been again been merged into the same species), 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.

As I noted, 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 general assessment).

Methods for determining if a plant is a species or hybrid: there is a more reliable way to determine if a plant is a species or hybrid and that is to self-pollinate 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 as recessive traits stack up in the progeny spread.


More About Phalaenopsis bastianii

Photos of Phalaenopsis bastianii


Photos of Phalaenopsis bastianii



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Phal bastianii – ramping up the flower count now that spring is here. Not a fragrant species, but known for its prolific spiking and high flower count. This is the only Phal I’ve ever owned that has sent a second spike from an old node AND which has also sent new spikes from below the primary leading growth line—it literally sent a spike from down at the base of the plant! Old spikes will continue to rebloom every spring, so for sure don’t cut the spikes on this species. I bought it as a seedling 3 years ago and it cohabitates with Phal mariae (a closely related species)—definitely one of my favourite species of Phal and I plan on using it in a few new crosses this year. #phal #phalaenopsis #phalbastianii #phalaenopsisbastianii #orchid #orchids #orchidsofinstagram #orchidea #spottedflower

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