Chalk fragrant orchid


Gymnadenia conopsea

The Chalk fragrant orchid is found on chalk and limestone grassland . It flowers in June and July and produces a very sweet scent which intensifies at dusk. It is pollinated by several butterfly and moth species. It is found in all parts of the UK  and is declining due to habitat loss.


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Chalk fragrant 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 alkaline soil and well-drained conditions.
Please note plants sent from late May onwards will not flower this year as flower stalks may be broken in transit.
The rosette of leaves appears in spring and is followed by flowering and then seed setting. The whole plant dies back in early autumn and is dormant through the winter. Plant out at the beginning or end of the dormancy period i.e. early autumn or early spring. Place a dormant plant with the tip 2cm below the surface, or if the plant has green aerial parts, keep the soil level the same as the compost in the pot . They will tolerate full sun if planted in a flower bed or grassy area. In pots beware of them overheating or drying out and avoid full sun in hot weather.  If planted into a lawn or grassland it should be under a management regime for a wildflower meadow. 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.

For pots use a well drained growing mix of 2 parts peat free potting compost, 2 parts perlite, 1 part grit, 1 part sieved garden soil and a sprinkling of lime.