Pyramidal orchid


Anacamptis pyramidalis
The Pyramidal orchid is a beautiful orchid with the clear pyramid shape Obvious early in the flowering season.  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. It is often found on the coast, on dunes or clifftops, always in a very poor well drained soil, where it is sometimes found in spectacular large colonies.

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Pyramidal 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, Wales and N Ireland with a very few sites in Scotland. If you don’t have a calcareous soil, 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 Pyramidal flowers in June, July and August. 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 compost 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 (if neutral or alkaline) with a sprinkling of garden lime and/or oyster shell.