Terrestrial Orchid Germination

Submitted by harraseeketgardens on

We have received our Seed Order (thank you!) and have a few questions about the germination of certain Terrestrial Orchid Species. 
Our main concerns are with the techniques used to germinate various Cypripedium species. Specifically Cypripedium Kentuckiense, C. Parviflorum var pubescens, C. Reginae.  I've done a fair bit of research on the laboratory techniques, though have never attempted them myself. 
Are there any other methods worth trying that result in high germination rates, or with less intensive methods? Any advice or resources are would be greatly appreciated. Also I'm curious about the stage in which Cypripedium seeds on the list are collected? Are they mature dormant seeds?
Also I'm curious about the germination of Epipactis Gigantea and E. Helleborine. I've seen a few posts about these plants and would love any info. 
Thanks in advance!


Submitted by Muggli on Mon, 02/26/2018 - 19:07

Sorry, I can't actually help you but thought I would tell you of my experience.  The literature says that temperate climate orchids are impossible to grow without using nutrient agar and other laboratory methods. I have flowering clumps of both Cypripedium parviflorum and C. reginae and both have produced seed over the last couple of years.  I have spread the seed in various locations on my property that I thought might be suitable. I have not seen any regeneration yet, but I suspect that in a competitive environment it could take years. One exception is Calopogon tuberosus on a sphagnum substrate - it will easily grow in a closed container without any additional assistance.

If you find a solution to this problem I would be interested in hearing of it.

Submitted by hepatica on Thu, 03/01/2018 - 12:54

The garden collected Cypripedium and Epipactis in this year's seed exchange were donated by Robert Swartz who wrote an article "Adventures in Native Species Acquisition and Propagation" in the Fall issue of the Rock Garden Quarterly Vol. 75, issue 4 (viewable only by NARGS members). I will PM you his email address. 

Check out http://www.kitchenculturekit.com for supplies and information on doing tissue culture at home. Carol Stiff has been showing people how to do tissue culture without expensive equipment for many years. 

As for Epipactis helleborine - it has the well-earned nickname of "Weed orchid" so should be fairly easy to germinate. I haven't tried it myself as it self-sows freely in my garden - even in the crack between the driveway and our house. E. helleborine has become a threat to native orchids so you may want to reconsider growing it - lovely as it is to have an easy orchid. indecision




I'll second Laura's comment about Epipactis helleborine.  It came uninvited into my garden and has made itself to home.  Its root are very deep, so digging it out is difficult.  The redeeming part of the story is that it thrives in spots where other plants would not.

Dactylorhizas freely seed about my garden.  Those I don't consider weeds!  The only drawback is that all are part of a hybrid storm, rather than individual species.