The Coelogyne cristata is a sympodial epiphyte orchid species found in cool, moist areas of the eastern Himalayas and Vietnam. There is some variety within this species, thus some individuals that might naturally grow at lower elevations can cope better with warmer conditions in home growing.
Blooms are about 5-6 cm in diameter. The petals and sepals have a pure white color and tend to obtain a wavy appearance. The lip is white and presents a deep yellow color in the center, which fades into an orange color in the throat of the flower. The lip also has a fringy appearance on the yellow portion which adds to the appearance. The column of this orchid is exaggeratedly elongated.
Some individuals poses a fragrance that many describe as freshly peeled oranges. Depending on individual and time of day this can be intense or rather mild. The one presented in this article has a very mild, sweet apple and orange fragrance that appears more intense during the early hours of the day.
Blooms are displayed on a flower spike which can measure about 20 cm in length. Each spike is produced at the base a pseudobulb and can hold 3 to 6 flowers, or more. The spike starts to grow when a new pseudobulb is near maturity, at the beginning of autumn usually, or in winter and will continue to slowly develop during winter until spring. For a good bloom count some individuals might require cool temperatures, as low as 2-3 degrees Celsius. The one presented in this article did not need this cool down, moreover, many of the spikes forming suffered during this cool down.
The flower spikes have a pendant nature, so it is best to keep the orchid in a hanging basket, or on top of a higher shelf. After the blooms fade, the flower spike will continue to grow a new lead resulting in a new pseudobulb, though new leads can sprout from the base of the pseudobulbs as well.
The Coelogyne cristata is a sympodial orchid that produces short, round to oval pseudobulbs. With good care and hydration they can become very plump and read 4-5 cm in height. The pseudobuolbs are medium green to light green and have a glossy appearance. Shriveling might occur if the orchid is not properly hydrated, or if it’s in bloom. On top of each mature pseudobulb there are 2 leaves, measuring about 3 cm in width and 10-20 cm in length.
When flower spikes form they appear to have multiple sheaths overlapping each other. When they first appear they might appear green, but as they grow they will take a pale yellow color. The sheaths can also dry as they approach bud formation. From between each overlapping sheath a bud will be formed, which distance itself from the spike, as the sheaths will dry.
After blooms fade, this orchid usually starts to produce new growth at the base of the newest pseudobulb, or continuing to grow from the lower part of the flower spike. This growth will take about 6-9 months to mature. Normally the orchid will produce one pseudoblub in one year, for each direction of growth.
The roots are relatively thick, depending on the maturity of the orchid and can appear fuzzy in adequate humidity conditions. Healthy roots have a beige cream color and root tips are pale green when actively growing.
The growth pattern of this orchid is pretty linear, so when repotting it is best to place the new growth towards the center of the pot, while the old pseudobuolbs are placed at the edge of the pot. However the orchid does have a creeping and pendant nature, for this reason many growers opt for hanging basket culture.
Soft spots: wrinkly pseudobulbs if not watered in time, leaf tip die back if the orchid experiences long periods of drought or high temperatures, spider mites
Overall this orchid is a medium difficulty plant to grow, depending on the environment provided. It is however quite resilient in the unfortunate event of root loss.
Coelogyne cristata Basic care:
Light: Bright to very bright
Temperature: Cool during winter, intermediate in summer time, though somewhat heat tolerant
Humidity: sometimes to low humidity, over 50% ideal
Water: Never let the media become fully dry in between waterings
Growth cycle: not deciduous, some individuals may require a cooler and drier winter rest, usually blooms in late winter or spring time