Green-winged orchid


Anacamptis morio

The green winged orchid flowers in April, making it one of the earliest to flower in the UK. In a wildflower meadow it will flower at the same time as cowslips, making a pattern of bright yellow and bright purple dots across the field. Sometimes they turn out white or pale pink, which allows the green veining to show up clearly in the lateral petals.

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Green winged 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 neutral or calcareous soils and occur naturally in most counties of England and Wales.

The rosette of leaves appears in autumn and lasts through the winter. It flowers in the spring mid-April to May and sets seed by late June or early July. The whole plant dies back throughout the summer months. Plant out at the end of the summer dormancy or in autumn when the new leaves have just appeared. Place dormant plants with the tip 2cm below the surface. If your plant has green aerial parts keep the soil surface level with the compost in the pot. They will tolerate full sun if planted in a wildflower grassland, 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. When 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 fed and watered sparingly. Plants in the ground should survive the winter in situ.

Use a well drained growing mix of 2 parts peat free potting compost, 2 parts perlite, 1 part grit, 1 part sieved calcareous garden soil plus a little lime and oyster shell to bring the pH to 8.