Coelogyne pulverula (still known to many as C. dayana) is one of the warmer growing species in the Tomentosae section of the genus. Allied to other similar species, such as C. rochussenii and C. tomentosa (formerly C. massangeana), it comes from similar areas (Java, Malaysia and Thailand). It grows easily and quickly in warm conditions, but tends to be absent from many collections because it does not flower until it has reached a large size. This doesn’t seem to be connected to the size of the pseudobulbs so much as to the overall size of the clump. The pseudobulbs are around 20cm tall, and you can add another 50cm for the leaves. Mine is quite a hefty plant for one that has only now just reached flowering size in a 20cm pot, which it completely fills, both on the surface with pseudobulbs, and inside with roots. It is, however, a species well suited to basket culture due to both its size and its pendulous inflorescences, but I will have to look very hard to find a transparent container large enough to accommodate it. When the plant blooms, the inflorescences arise from new, very young growth, and the flowers will likely be open before the leaves have really begun to emerge. The inflorescences grow to around 1m long and hang vertically downward, bearing 30 or more flowers which open simultaneously.
I recently acquired another specimen of this plant which was bought from the same nursery (though a few years earlier) by a friend, and it is interesting to see how plants of the same species from the same nursery behave under different growers’ conditions. My plant, grown under artificial light with warm temperatures all year round, grows very upright with quite tall, slender pseudobulbs. My second plant, grown under natural light and slightly cooler temperatures all year round by my friend has broader leaves that spread out much further, presumably as a means of collecting extra light during the darker times of year. They are also a much darker green colour. The pseudobulbs are shorter and fatter (the overall volume being more or less the same).
The flowers are around 3cm wide and spaced evenly in two ranks on the inflorescence. They are a pale buff colour, with chestnut-brown markings on the lip. Not inspiring as individuals, they nonetheless give an impressive show on a 1m-long spike. This species produces its flowers all at the same time, resulting in a curtain of flowers on mature, well grown specimens, and this is where this species has the advantage over C. tomentosa which will flower at a younger age and at a smaller size, but here, flowers are produced intermittently throughout the year and therefore, don’t make such a big impact.