Maxillaris sophronitis (small form) – 365 days of orchids – day 753

Maxillaria sophronitis is a humming bird pollinated species from wet forests in Colombia and Venezuela. It is found from 750m to 1500m altitude and so we grow it in our Cool America section.

We have two very distinct clones of this species. The one in flower now is small growing with 4cm leaves and 1cm flowers where as the larger growing clone has leaves and flowers approximately double the size. In other respects the two clones are very similar.

The species’ adaptation for humming bird pollination is interesting. As well as the usual red/yellow flowers to attract a humming bird it has developed a growth habit where it forms a ball but always presents its flowers on the outside of the ball to give easy access for hovering birds.

We find that good flowering is dependent on good light and if grown in shade plants produce few flowers. As a result the challenge is to grow plants hanging in good light but kept well watered especially and the ball of plant quickly grows away from its basket. The hard work is well worth it as when in full flower the plant is very impressive,



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