Large Orchid – Dactylorhiza x grandis

Orchids have always held a fascination for gardeners, but most in cultivation come from tropical regions and require special conditions, making them impractical for most growers. However, there are several hardy Orchids that can be grown in the open garden.

These are not quite so spectacular as the tropical ones, but are still very attractive, especially when grown in a large clump.

Some of the easiest hardy Orchids to grow belong to the Dactylorhiza. This is a genus of species that are native to Europe and so are well suited to local conditions. Quite a number of species have been in cultivation for a long time. A relative newcomer is D. grandis, a cross between D. praetermissa and D. maculata.

Dactylorhiza × braunii, Schwäbisch-Fränkischer...

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Although they will grow in the open if the soil is kept moist, they do best in a dappled shade, under or among deciduous bushes.

Dactylorhiza like a humus-rich, woodland soil. However, any fertile garden soil will do, but it must have added humus, preferably in the form of leafmould. This will keep it cool and moist.

The flowers of this plant are quite stunning, but it is the handsome, spotted foliage which completes the picture.

These plants are wood-landers and like nothing better than to grow in a position reminiscent of their natural habitat. They look very good when grown among shrubs or under low trees. They are expensive, but if you buy one plant it will quickly clump up to form a block of strong colour. Unlike most Orchids, they are quite easy to propagate, so within time you can have several clumps.

There are several other Daaylorhiza Orchids available. All have flowers of shades of purple with deeper markings on the petals. Examples that are easy to find in nurseries include D. foliosa, D. majalis, D. maculata, D. elata and D. fuchsii.

The best time to plant out is in late Summer or Autumn, but they can also be set in Spring. Do not plant too deeply, but the same depth as in the pot.

This is a vigorous Orchid that soon forms large clumps, bearing tall purple spikes of flowers. Each flower has darker markings on the petals. The flower spike erupts from a rosette of darkly spotted, strap-like leaves.

These are hardy plants and should not cause any problems, even in really harsh Winters.

These Orchids need very little attention once planted. They appreciate a top-dressing of leafmould or composted bark during the Winter.

Large Orchids can be readily propagated by lifting them in late Summer or Autumn and carefully dividing them.

Do not dig up Orchids in the wild. Not only is it illegal, but it is also morally wrong. Everything should be done to preserve them for future generations. They are all available from nurseries, so there is no reason to remove them from the wild.

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