Coelogyne marmorata flower 'Light' formSpecies Coel marmorata 'light' growth habit

 

Coelogyne marmorata is one of the really under-rated orchids. It has good size, fairly erect sprays of almost simultaneously opening flowers. Some spikes open later than others and this gives a good display over an extended period. The flowers are pretty, apple-green to pale white with delicate marbling patterns on the inside lobes (hence the name). The perfume can pervade the whole area.

This compact, clumping, mid-sized orchid flowers in late spring to early summer - a bit later than the normal rush of spring flowering Coelogynes and this is another distinct advantage.

I am mystified why it is not more widely cultivated (apart from its requirement for a warm environment). It is another 'old' Coelogyne, being described by Professor Heinrich Reichenback in 1877. It has certainly had enough time to make its way into popularity.

Cultivation Suggestions: Coelogyne marmorata is from the Philippines to around a 1000 metres so it prefers warm moist conditions with high humidity, lots of water and completely frost free.

A clue about humidity - If you study pictures of Coelogynes growing in the wild you will notice all the mosses (and ferns) growing on the tree trunks and branches. This can only happen under constant high humidity. A good humidity indicator in your glasshouse would be a small log of wood. If it grows or supports moss then the humidity is good. If not, you need to increase the air moisture or your Coelogynes won't do well. You can get the humidity up by using fogging or misting machines, or having a deep mulch of bark or gravel on the floor. You can try wet curtains, or if money is not a problem you could use air-conditioning. You can even visit the glasshouse several times a day and spray by hand.

A problem with building up the moisture and humidity is that snails, slugs, scale and many other problems emerge. This can be minimised by really good circulation (i.e. fans) and/or more vents in the glasshouse. The more air you let out the more heat and/or humidity you lose. What a catch 22!

After a couple of years you won't bother reading your thermometer as often but something that measures humidity is harder to dispense with. You will find some micro-climates in the glasshouse that dry out faster than others (i.e. drier) and you can move hardier plants to these spots.

The larger your glasshouse the easier it is to control every aspect of climate and the greater the range of stable micro-climates. There is much false advertising promoting the value of small glasshouses! Go for the biggest you can manage and remember that those little seedlings all get bigger every year - so extra space won't be wasted.

Coelogyne marmorata is a hardy, quick-growing and free flowering beautiful orchid. Divisions of this plant strike really easily - unlike some other Coelogynes such as Coel cristata.

Negatives: The flower spikes could be a bit longer to get the flowers above the foliage more but this is only a minor problem. For display the pot can easily be raised by placing it on another up-turned pot or a flower stand to highlight the beauty of the flowers.

It is not widely available. If you come across one don't miss it.

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦ I highly recommend this one.

Sometimes sold as: None known.

Varieties: There are two unnamed varieties (both shown in the above photos. One is a slightly smaller plant with smaller darker flowers, and the other is a bigger plant with larger and lighter flowers that are held up a little higher on longer spikes. Both are equally desirable.

Hybrids:

1. Coelogyne Kirribilli Ray (Kevin Dawes 2015) - using Coelogyne speciosa as the pod parent.

2. Coelogyne Kirribilli Francis Edwards (Kevin Dawes 2015) - using Coelogyne xyrekes as the pollen parent.

3. Coelogyne Kirribilli Megan (Kevin Dawes 2016) - using Coelogyne mooreana as the pod parent

< Coel lycastoides Coel mayeriana >