The name Maxillaria is derived from the Latin Maxilla, which means jawbone. The jawbone is visible from this plant. The plant can only be found in the wild in (sub)tropical America. Some species occur at an altitude of 3500 meters.
This orchid requires a lot of light but does not tolerate direct sunlight, especially during the summer months. A place on the window sill facing (north) east or (south) west is ideal. When leaves turn yellow, this can be a sign of too much direct sunlight. The loss of flower buds or dark green leaves indicate a possible lack of light.
The Maxillaria thrives best at a minimum night temperature of 12 to 15°C. An ideal daytime temperature is between 15 and 20°C.
Water and humidity
Furthermore, the plants have a great need for water, nutrients and lots of fresh and moving air during the growing period. When a plant is well cared for, a small plant can reach a nice size in one year.
A slightly drier substrate and lower night temperatures can promote flowering, but this is not an absolute necessity. What you should pay attention to is the watering during the development of the buds. The buds of most Maxillaria are rather susceptible to rot. So during this period water the plants on the pot and mist carefully or make sure there is sufficient air movement so that the remaining water evaporates quickly and thus cannot damage the buds.
In its natural environment the Maxillaria has a high humidity. If you therefore want to grow or propagate the plant, it is best to do so in damp places, such as a kitchen, bathroom or conservatory.
Soil and fertilization
It is important that the Maxillaria is placed in an airy soil that provides a moisture-containing drainage. Special orchid soil, which is available at most garden centres, is ideal for this purpose. It is better not to use ordinary potting soil. Because there is often little food in the airy orchid soil, it is best to fertilise the Maxillaria with water. Special orchid manure is available for this purpose. Fertilisation is necessary in the months of March to October, about twice a month.
In general, a Maxillaria Flower should not have it of its size, but of its appearance. Take a good look at a flower (sometimes a loupe is not an unnecessary luxury), it can really be jewels. Another nice side effect is the fact that a number of Maxillaria Plants can smell very pleasant and aromatic. Good examples are Maxillaria picta (smells creamy) and Maxillaria pumila (smells cinnamon-like).
Maxillaria malibu can become an impressive plant in a greenhouse.
The Maxillaria has about 300 species spread over suptropic and tropical America. They occur in the wild mainly as epiphytes.
If the Maxillaria suffers from vermin, it is important to control this as soon as possible with a biological or if desired a chemical pesticide.