This very popular, very rambling, small-flowered Coelogyne fimbriata is incredibly variable as is hinted by the photos above. It is so variable that scientists have defined many as different species. However, with DNA and modern techniques this is being sorted. Dutch researcher, Dr Barbara Gravendeel, in her PhD thesis recommended that many of the separate species in this group, including Coelogynes fimbriata, fuliginosa, ovalis, padangensis, and pallens should all be reduced to one species name, Coelogyne fimbriata.

Coelogyne fimbriata definitely has a cuteness factor. Additionally, it is so easy to grow and flower successfully that it is a really popular orchid with everyone from beginners to old hands.  Collecting samples of the different variations can become another challenge/obsession on its own.

It is native to a wide range of countries from Nepal, China, across and down to Malaysia. This range hints at its variability and also its adaptability and why it is so easily cultivated. It is so tough that it was one of the first orchids to withstand being shipped from its collection in China to England in the 1820's.

Cultivation Suggestions: This orchid can be grown on a mount or any well-drained pot in a shady, moist, frost-free spot. It will soon outgrow whatever it is in/on and, like the image above, all you will see will be aerial roots and runners. There is no need to rush out and repot it. It seems happy to keep growing like this for several years. As with any orchid that has a lot of aerial roots, you will need high humidity to keep them healthy. If the roots get dry the they will die back. Then there will be more leaves than roots and  the out of balance plant will suffer badly. To keep the humidity higher around the plant, place it over a tray of water (not in the water!)

If you want to start some new plants, just chop off some of the long rambling bits with as many psuedobulbs as possible (at least 4 or 5 - see comments under Cultivation Suggestions on the Coel cristata page.The best time to take cuttings is early in summer when new growth really takes off. In spring when most other orchids are flowering, Coel fimbriata is tired after its long flowering season and goes a bit dormant for a couple of months. During this time many of the leaves will go yellow and drop off - so ease back on the watering and pour it onto the new cuttings instead.

I recommend a hanging basket so that growth and flowers can be more evenly distributed through a full 360 degrees. If the plant is hung against a wall it will end up with no growth on one side and becoming unattractive (this is only relevant if you want to exhibit your plant - otherwise keep it on the wall!). Try to avoid having the pot on your bench once it starts to grow seriously because it will smother its neighbours and even happily put its roots into their pots - remind you of a cuckoo?

Negatives: The flowers are small and the plant is an undisciplined rambler.

Rating: ♦♦♦♦ This is a 'No-fail' orchid and everyone should have one in their garden as long as it is frost-free. It produces its flowers over a couple of months in autumn. Any orchid grower will gladly give you cuttings to play with.

Varieties: Coel fimbriata 'Alba' ( a pale off-white/yellow rather than 'white') is probably the best known variety but there are numerous variations, some with more formal tags and others not named. Bearing in mind Barbara's research reference above, you might want to also look at Coel ovalis, fuliginosa, pallens, etc.

 

Hybrids:

  • Coelogyne Danielle de Prins (2001) - using Coelogyne speciosa as the pod parent
  • Coelogyne Orchideengarten Magdalene (2014) - using Coelogyne usitana as the pollen parent.

 

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