This month’s orchid is a charming species of Coelogyne from section Lentiginosae that isn’t often seen, more’s the pity. I got it from a German nursery a little over a year ago, labelled as C. sparsa. It wasn’t until it bloomed a few weeks later that I realised I’d got a mislabelled plant (my search for C. sparsa carried on for a few more months and although I have now found a plant, I haven’t bloomed it yet, so I can’t be sure it is what it claims to be). After some resource consultation, I concluded that the plant I’d been sent was a rather nice form of Coelogyne chloroptera, as that was the only description that fitted.
This species comes from the Philippines, at elevations of around 1000m, and is epiphytic or lithophytic. It needs a warm, humid environment, despite the elevations it grows at, and has settled in very well to my conditions. New growths are unusually flattened, and the inflorescences are produced while growths are still very small, usually in early spring. The flowers are not large, but are produced in decent numbers (up to 15 blooms), arranged in two ranks on the gracefully arching inflorescence. As a bonus, the flowers are subtly scented and appear to be full of nectar, which sits at the back of the lip. They are pale green, with the petals flung wide, and the dorsal sepal sat low, covering the column, presumably so as to help prevent self-pollination during heavy rains.
In common with most other Coelogyne that I grow, this species seems to appreciate quite a lot of water, despite it being a seasonal grower and inactive for long periods, especially in late summer and autumn. While periods of dryness when not growing don’t appear to cause too many problems, the plant retains old foliage better if kept damper. Even the leaves on the current year’s pseudobulbs are apt to drop if the plant is kept too dry. When repotting it last year, I put polystyrene chips in the bottom of the pot, but I think they might be better omitted the next time I repot.