Maxillaria tenuifolia is also known as the coconut orchid because its flowers have a strong coconut smell to them. The species name of the plant, tenuifolia, is derived from the Latin words tenuis (thin) and folium (leaf), describing the thin, delicate, almost grasslike leaves of the plant. The plant is beautiful to look at, with or without flowers.
The coconut orchid can be found in the wild in the tropical rainforests in Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua). While Maxillaria tenuifolia isn't difficult to grow, it prefers a warm, humid environment (intermediate grower) with temperature ranging from the low tens to mid twenties.
The coconut orchid has stunning, fairly large flowers (about 5cm/2in) that are distinctly triangular in shape (see photo). The color ranges from deep red to yellowish brown color. Maxillaria tenuifolia flowers in spring, but flowers can appears a early as February and last as late as July.
The coconut orchid produces pseudobulbs, making it easy to propagate the plant by division. As I mentioned earlier, the plant is fairly easy to grow and growing a new plant from a pseudobulb shouldn't be difficult.
Water, Light, and Fertilizer
In the wild, Maxillaria tenuifolia grows as an epiphyte on the humus mats of tree branches. It is used to quite a bit of water, but make sure the water can drain out of the medium. Remember that orchids don't like wet feet. This species can tolerate some time without water, but it thrives when it receives frequent watering.
This species grows on the branches of trees as an epiphyte. It is used to bright, filtered sunlight, but it can tolerate shade. As in the wild, it loves an environment with adequate air movement.
Maxillaria gracilifolia is a synonym of Maxillaria tenuifolia.