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Coelogyne nitida (Wallich. ex Don) Lindley

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Charles and Margaret Baker

Coelogyne nitida (Wallich. ex Don) Lindley.

AKA: Coelogyne ochracea Lindley, Cymbidium nitidum (Lindley) Wallich ex

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Nepal through Sikkim and Bhutan to the Khasi Hills in
northeast India, upper Burma, Yunnan Province of southwest China,
Thailand, and Laos. Throughout their habitat, plants are found at
4900-7550 ft. (1500-2300 m). They grow on moss-covered trees and rocks in
regions characterized by the presence of fog and mist almost year-round.
Plants found in the subtropical zone in the lower elevations of the
habitat grow mostly on trees in mixed forests and secondary scrub in
regions with cool, sunny and dry winters. 

CLIMATE: Station #42295, Darjiling, India, Lat. 27.1N, Long. 88.3E, at
7431 ft. (2265 m). The record high is 77F (25C), and the record low is 27F

F AVG MAX        47   48   57   62   64   65   66   65   64   61   54   49
F AVG MIN        35   36   42   49   53   56   58   57   55   50   42   37
DIURNAL RANGE    12   12   15   13   11    9    8    8    9   11   12   12
RAIN/INCHES     0.5  1.1  1.7  4.1  8.5 23.2 31.4 25.1 17.6  5.1  0.9  0.3
HUMIDITY/%       83   82   73   78   88   93   95   95   93   87   79   78
BLOOM SEASON           *   **   **  ***    *              *    *    *
DAYS CLR        N/A
RAIN/MM          13   28   43  104  216  589  798  638  447  130   23    8
C AVG MAX       8.3  8.9 13.9 16.7 17.8 18.3 18.9 18.3 17.8 16.1 12.2  9.4
C AVG MIN       1.7  2.2  5.6  9.4 11.7 13.3 14.4 13.9 12.8 10.0  5.6  2.8
DIURNAL RANGE   6.6  6.7  8.3  7.3  6.1  5.0  4.5  4.4  5.0  6.1  6.6  6.6

Cultural Recommendations: 

LIGHT: 1500-2500 fc. Strong air movement should be provided at all times.
The heavy cloud cover associated with summer monsoons indicates that some
shading is needed from spring through autumn, so that light is somewhat
filtered or diffused. Plants should not be exposed to direct midday sun.
In the habitat, light is brightest during the winter dry season when skies
are clear for more than half the days each month.

TEMPERATURES: Summer days average 65-66F (18-19C), and nights average
56-58F (13-14C), with a diurnal range of 8-9F (5C). Plants adapt to warmer
afternoon temperatures if humidity is kept high, if air movement is
strong, and if the plants are able to cool down in the evening. 

HUMIDITY: 85-95% most of the year, dropping 75-80% from late autumn into

WATER: Rainfall is very heavy from late spring into autumn, but diminishes
rapidly in autumn into a 3-5 month dry season. Cultivated plants should be
watered heavily while actively growing, but the medium must not be allowed
to become stale or soggy. Water should be reduced after new growths mature
in autumn. 

FERTILIZER: 1/4-1/2 recommended strength applied weekly during periods of
active growth. Most growers use a balanced fertilizer during most of the
growing season. They often switch to a fertilizer lower in nitrogen and
higher in phosphorus in autumn to promote better blooming the next season
and to allow the new growths to harden before winter. In order to prevent
salt buildup, the medium should be leached every few weeks during periods
of heavier fertilizer applications. This is especially important in areas
with heavily mineralized water. Leaching is performed by first watering
the plant normally to dissolve any accumulated salts. Then, an hour or so
later flushing the media with water equal to about twice the volume of the

REST PERIOD: Winter days average 47-49F (8-9C), and nights average 35-37F
(2-3C), with a diurnal range of 12F (7C). In the habitat, rainfall is very
low for abut 3 months in late autumn and early winter, but additional
moisture is usually available from frequent heavy dew, fog, and mist.
Water should, therefore, be reduced for cultivated plants in winter, but
they should not be allowed to remain dry for long periods. In most growing
areas, a light watering every 3weeks or so with occasional mistings
between waterings will meet the plant's requirements. The cool, dry rest
is essential for healthy growth and flowering, but it need not be quite as
long or severe as the rest period indicated by the climate data. We have
found that low temperatures of 48-50F (9-10C) along with reduced water for
about 3 months is sufficient to meet the rest requirements. 

GROWING MEDIA: Plants may be mounted on cork or a tree-fern slab providing
humidity is high and plants are watered several times a day during the
hot, bright weather. Most growers prefer to use baskets or pots, however,
and open baskets lined with sphagnum moss generally produce excellent
results. Because of the heavy water requirements, the medium should be
open and fast draining but still hold considerable moisture. Growers have
found that most Coelogyne species should be disturbed as seldom as
possible. The plants grow best if repotted only when absolutely necessary.
Growers report that transplant shock may delay blooming for as long as 3
years, and some suggest that thinning old bulbs by cutting them out may be
preferable to repotting. Shredded tree-fern fiber mixed with about 10%
perlite, 10% chopped sphagnum, and 10% charcoal produces excellent results
for most growers and breaks down very slowly. Fir bark may be used if
moisture retaining additives are included in the mix, but repotting is
required more frequently because it deteriorates more rapidly. When
repotting is required, it should be done only when new root growth is
evident, usually immediately after flowering. 

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The bloom season shown in the climate table is based
on cultivation records. In the habitat, plants bloom in late spring and
early summer. 

Plant and Flower Information:

PLANT SIZE AND TYPE: A 9-12 in. (22-30 cm) sympodial epiphyte.

PSEUDOBULB: 3-4 in. (7.5-10.0cm) long. The cylindrical-oblong pseudobulbs
become furrowed with age. Growths are spaced 0.9-1.0 in. (2.0-2.5 cm)
apart on a stout rhizome.

LEAVES: 6-8 in. (15-20 cm) long including the 1-2 in. (2.5-5.0 cm)
channeled petiole at the base. Two elliptic to lanceolate leaves are
carried at the top of each pseudobulb. They are about 1 in. (2.5 cm) wide
and sharply pointed at the tip. 

INFLORESCENCE: About 8 in. (20 cm) long. The erect to drooping flower
spike emerges from the center of new growths before the leaves or
pseudobulbs develop. 

FLOWERS: 3-8. Blossoms are carried on the upper half of each flower spike.
Flowers, which are 1.6 in. (4 cm) across, are white marked with a yellow
disc and yellow eyelike spots on the sidelobes of the lip. The relatively
wide-spreading, sharply-pointed sepals and petals are 1.0-1.4 in. (2.5-3.5
cm) long by 0.2-0.3 in. (0.5-0.7 cm) wide. Sepals are usually a little
longer and wider than the petals, however.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count is n = 20. 


Banerji, M., and P. Pradhan. 1984. The orchids of Nepal Himalaya. J.
Cramer, Vaduz, India.

Bechtel, H., P. Cribb, and E. Launert. 1980. Manual of cultivated orchid
species. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Hamilton, R. 1988. When does it flower? 2nd ed. Robert M. Hamilton, 9211
Beckwith Road, Richmond, B.C., Canada V6X 1V7.

Hawkes, A. [1965] 1987. Encyclopaedia of cultivated orchids. Faber and
Faber, London. 

Pradhan, U. 1976, 1979. Indian orchids: guide to identification and
culture, vols. I-II. Udai C. Pradhan, Kalimpong, India.

Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. Baker
Sheet version 7005701

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