Spiranthes cernua var odorata (Fragrant Ladies’ Tresses)
A fragrant cool-growing herbaceous orchid which can be grown in the garden in most areas of the UK or on a cool windowsill indoors. The plant produces flower spikes of about 30 cms in height.
Choose a sunny, sheltered spot, but out of the noon sun. Spiranthes cernua prefers a moist, well drained soil and containerised plants in growth can be put out at any time. Otherwise plant the corm-like pseudobulbs in the early Spring about 10 cm deep. Protect the new growing tips from slugs and snails.
In early Autumn the flower stems appear from inside the young shoots, giving small, white, slightly translucent flowers which spiral around the spike. After flowering, the leaves die down for Winter.
Spiranthes cernua is also suitable for indoor or alpine house cultivation. It will grow best where daytime temperatures do not exceed 18ºC with cooler nights; an east facing windowsill is fine.
Water the pot from above when the compost is almost dry and allow to drain. Water freely when the flower spikes appear.
Occasional feeding will be beneficial during the growth season; use quarter strength general garden fertiliser.
Allow a cold rest period over winter (frost free greenhouse ideal) but water only very occasionally to prevent the bulb from shrivelling.