Bee orchid


Ophrys apifera
The Bee orchid is one of our most spectacular and unusual orchids and it is always a joy to find them in the wild. It mimics a female bee with its looks and hairy feel, but also by putting out pheromones to trick the male bee into mating with it and thereby pollinating it. It occurs on alkaline well drained soils all over England and Wales and often appears in the steep dry stony soil of an abandoned quarry or spoil heap.

Not Avaiable


Bee orchids are perennial plants and are fully hardy in the UK, though plants in pots may be vulnerable to low winter temperatures. They are suitable for very well drained chalky or other alkaline soils and occur naturally in England and Wales. They will do well in a rockery or container where you can add grit and limestone and a little lime to get the right pH.
The rosette of leaves appears in autumn and lasts through the winter. The Bee flowers in June and July and the whole plant dies back in late summer for a short dormancy period before coming up again in the autumn. Plant out in autumn or early spring. Place dormant plants with the tip 2cm below the surface. If your plant has green aerial parts keep the soil surface level with the compos in the pot. They will tolerate full sun if planted in the ground, in pots beware of them overheating or drying out.  If planted into a lawn or grassland it should be under a management regime for a wildflower meadow and have a very low and sparse sward. For planting in grassland or a garden bed, make a slit with a spade and slide the plant in keeping the main root vertical. Pour in a little well drained growing mix (see below) and close up the slit. If planting in a pot make it quite a large pot to avoid the roots getting frosted over the winter. Pots may be moved into an unheated greenhouse during the winter and watered sparingly to just keep the compost moist. Plants in the ground should survive the winter in situ.  Feed once a month when in leaf, with  very dilute general feed.

Use a well drained growing mix of 2 parts peat free potting compost, 2 parts perlite, 1 part grit, 1 part sieved local garden soil with a sprinkling of garden lime and/or oyster shell.