How cool is this wild-haired 80’s glam rocker coconut orchid?? Even though she only blooms once a year for a few weeks at best, I love to keep her around just for these luscious gorgeous grassy greens sprouting in every direction from yummy little pods at her base known as pseudobulbs!
*FUN FACT: you can tell whether your coconut orchid is getting enough hydration by the smoothness of her pseudobulbs! If she‘s not getting enough, much like my forehead, she’ll shrivel and show deep wrinkles! With proper watering these wrinkles can resolve, but if it the drought lasted too long, they may not return to the smooth, oversized-tictac look she had before!*
These orchids are know as Maxillariella tenuifolia or coconut orchids due to their mouthwatering coconut-scented flowers! THAT’S RIGHT YOU HEARD ME SHE IS A SCENTED ORCHID! There are actually quite a few scented orchids, but I feel like most people may not be aware since unscented phalaenopsis orchids are the most popular and commonly available. I will introduce you to a few other scented orchids in my collection in future posts, but today we are spotlighting this delicious beauty!
So, though these guys look just about as different as possible (whether in bloom or in growth stages) from the phalaenopsis orchids you’re used to seeing at the grocery store, their care is surprisingly not too different! They may be a great next orchid type to move onto once you’ve had success with your phalaenopsis and begin venturing further down the rabbit hold that is the orchid hobby/addiction. (See our first blog post on beginner tips for orchid care for more information on phalenopsis care).
These beauties thrive well under the same conditions of your phals due to sharing their status as an epiphytic species, meaning they naturally grow, root, and stabilize themselves on trees or rocks as opposed to rooting down under soil into the ground. For this reason, your coconut orchid will love plenty of water in well-draining chunky potting media. I personally am loving clay pebbles at the moment as they are suitable for my humid climate and over-watering habits.
The coconut orchid seems to differ from your phalaenopsis in one major way- tolerance to light variation! These flexible optimists seem to make the most out of their circumstances and will find a way to work with the light they are given- whether that’s direct sun or mostly shade. In my experience, it takes a LOT of hot direct Georgia summer afternoon sun to burn their leaves unlike phals, and they also don’t seem to mind much higher heat than your average phalenopsis, but are happy to stay indoors as well.
My particular rusty vintage index card filer pictured above holds two types of coconut orchids, one that produces a beautiful “oxblood red” with a cheetah “spotted lip”, and the other is a less common buttery yellow. I’ve included a poor quality photo from their first blooms last spring, but you can see the two color variations that will flower from the card filer planter in just a few months!
Lastly, these are very fast growing orchids, so your plant can look robust and uniquely sprawling within just a few years of adding it to your collection. I will be sure to post photos when I get my delicious blooms this spring and you should too! Contact Splash directly via instagram message or inquiry box on the site to get your very own coconut orchid today. We would love to help grow your collection or start your orchid journey with a bang with this unique and rewarding conversation piece!
If you want a whole lot more info and expertise, you can use your dear friend google, or a fan favorite for all things orchid, The American Orchid society website. In particular today I referenced https://www.aos.org/orchids/collectors-items/maxillariella-tenuifolia.aspx
And don’t forget about Miss Orchid Girl on youtube and Instagram and also herebutnot on Instagram and their website www.herebutnot.com for answers to pretty much any orchid inquiry ever but presented in an approachable digestible way!
Happy orchid hunting!