Coelia bella has a graceful beauty, a rich fragrance, and a musical name. Its delightful purple, white, and yellow flowers emerge like little trumpets, and have the sweet scent of marzipan or almond oil. This species is native to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras.
Coelia is easy to pronounce; just ignore the “o” and say “Celia” like the woman’s name. In the wild, it grows as an epiphyte or a terrestrial in rainforests up to 5000 feet (1500 m) in elevation. In cultivation, it needs frequent watering, shady conditions, and winter dormancy. This species tolerates a wide range of temps. However, it doesn’t like repotting, and extra care is needed to avoid damage to roots.
The blooms can be as large as 2 inches (5 cm,) but this plant enjoying life on my back deck has slightly smaller 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) flowers. Besides this variety, another member of the Coelia genus in the final photo has tiny white flowers. This species, Coelia triptera, was on display at a local orchid show. Like Coelia bella, it’s also fragrant.
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