How to Grow Orchis Plants in your Garden

Guide to Growing Naked Man Orchid, Green-veined and Monkey Orchids

Members of the Orchis plant genus (part of the Orchidaceae family) are hardy upright European woodland and swamp Orchid plants that are grown form bulbs.

They typically range in height from 30 to 60 cm ( 1 to 2 feet), and bloom with very attractive flowers from late spring through to summer.

Orchis mascula
Orchis mascula picture by

Some common names for members of this genus include the Naked Man Orchid, Italian Orchid, the Green Veined Orchid, and Gandergoose.

Orchis plants bloom with spotted lipped flowers of purple, white or pink.

Orchis Species and Cultivar Types: Identification

Orchis morio Syn. Anacamptis morio: Green-winged orchid, Green-veined orchid

Orchis Morio
Orchis Morio is also referred to as Anacamptis morio (Green Veined Orchid) by Bernd Heynold.

Orchis bouffon
Orchis bouffon, Syn Orchis morio or L'orchis bouffon, photograph by cercamon; CC.

Orchis italica: Naked man orchid, Italian orchid

Orchis italica
Orchis italica, known as the Naked man orchid or Italian orchid, image by tatogra; CC.

Orchis mascula: Early-purple orchid, Early spring orchis

Orchis mascula
Orchis mascula, the Early-purple orchid, photograph by xulescu_g; CC.

Orchis simia: Monkey Orchid

Orchis simia plants
Orchis simia plants image by Björn S...; CC.

Orchis simia flower
Orchis simia flower close up image by Björn S...; CC.

Quick Orchis Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Green-veined orchid, Monkey orchid, Naked Man Orchid, Italian Orchis, Monkey orchid, Three-toothed orchid, Gandergoose.
Life Cycle: Hardy bulb.
Height: 12 to 24 inches (30—60 cm).
Native: Europe, Asia, and Northwest Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 5 to 8.

Flowers: Species dependent: Late spring through to summer.
Flower Details: Terminal spikes. Lipped. Spotted. Purple, yellow, red, white, pink. Small. Flowers form from the base upwards (except in Orchis simian, which is reversed).
Foliage: Variable, often sheaved. Green.

Plant Outside: Tubers: 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm). Start of April.
Sow Inside: Sow on surface. Germination time: three months to one year. Temperature: 75°F (24°C). Requires light. Transplant outdoors following the last frost. Spacing 4 to 6 inches (10—15 cm).
Requirements and care: NB. Orchis is a large genus, so specific species have specific needs that cannot be covered in full in a genus specific quick growing guide. So Generally: Full sunlight through to light shade. Acidic soil pH. Rich, peaty soil. Do not disturb once established. Regular watering during dry periods. Propagate: by dividing towards the end of autumn.
Miscellaneous: Named after the Greek word for testicle (ὄρχις) due the appearance of its tubers.

How to Grow Orchids

Orchis genus plants such as the Green Veined Orchid can be started from seeds or roots. If growing from roots then they should be buried about 8 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) deep into a slightly acidic soil that is rich and peaty.

Orchis can grow in either sunny or lightly shaded parts of the garden and should be grown spaces about 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) apart.

how to grow Orchis italica from seed: If you plan to grow Orchids from seeds, then it is best to start them off indoors. The seed should be sown on the soil surface and germinated at 18 to 24 degrees centigrade (65°F to 77°F) in the light.

The germination time varies from three months to just over a year, so sow the seeds at any time, but only put the seedlings (young bulblets) outdoors following the last frost of spring.

Common Questions

How many members does the Orchis genus contain?

The Orchis genus consists about 60 species. These terrestrial orchids are natively found in Europe, North Africa, and Asia.

Do Orchis plants make for a good garden or landscaping plant?

Orchis can be a unique addition to a garden, especially one designed for orchids or other speciality plants. However, they require specific care and conditions to thrive, which might not suit all gardeners.

Which Orchis species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The Military Orchid (Orchis militaris) and the Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia) are often grown by orchid enthusiasts for their intriguing and beautiful flowers.

Are Orchis plants fragrant?

Some species of Orchis, such as the Fragrant Orchid (Orchis coriophora), are known for their scent, but this can vary between species.

What is the perfect location to grow Orchids?

Orchis species prefer a location with dappled shade or indirect light, well-draining soil, and high humidity. They typically grow in meadows, woodlands, or on grassy slopes in their natural habitat.

Is Orchis invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Orchis is not currently considered invasive in the USA. Its cultivation is more common in controlled environments such as in botanical gardens, or by orchid plant enthusiasts.

How do I remove Orchis plants ?

Orchis plants can be carefully dug up, ensuring the entire root system is removed. However, they are generally not invasive, and tend to be cultivated purposefully due to their beauty.


The Orchis plant genus, part of the Orchidaceae family, comprises a range of perennial plants known for their remarkable flower spikes. They are native to the temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere.

Orchis prefers a semi-shaded location with well-drained, alkaline to neutral soil rich in humus. Orchids can be grown from seed or as mature plants, usually planted in autumn. Famed for their intricate and often colourful flowers, these plants are particularly suited to woodland gardens or naturalized areas.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Orchis plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Bletilla and Schizanthus plants.