Alphabetical Plant Listing

Dactylorhiza (Marsh Orchids)

Dactylorhiza majalis, Dactylorhiza maculata, Dactylorhiza elata, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, Dactylorhiza purpurella (Dactylorhiza)


Dactylorhiza (Marsh Orchids) are deciduous terrestrial orchids boasting lance-shaped leaves, sometimes spotted with burgundy, and showy terminal spikes crowded with purple, pink or white flowers in spring and summer. The genus includes 75 species and numerous named botanical varieties as well as natural hybrids. Marsh Orchids are distributed mostly in boreal, temperate zones, more rarely in Mediterranean areas: Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Asia and North America (Aleutian Islands).

Because of their spectacular colorful inflorescences and their relative ease of cultivation, Marsh Orchids are the most widely grown European orchids. Usually found growing in marshes, grasslands or woodlands, they are a wonderful source of bright color for partly shaded woodlands, rock gardens or meadows.

Marsh Orchids are very cold-hardy and do not require any special protection in winter. They can be grown outside in zones 5 through 8, depending on species.

Marsh Orchids grow up to 6-36 in. tall (15-90 cm), depending on varieties.

Marsh Orchids prefer semi-shaded sites and thrive in moist, humus-rich, well-drained soils. Some species do well in sunny site as long as the soil is always kept moist.

Marsh Orchids arise from finger-like tubers, which grow for a year until they are replaced by new tubers sprouting from their tip. Although the tubers resent disturbance, they may be divided in early spring.

Marsh Orchids have no serious pest or disease issues. If necessary, protect the tender new shoots against slugs, during their emergence in spring.

Marsh Orchids Marsh Orchids should never be collected in the wild, but only purchased from authorized dealers which can certify culture from seeds.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 8
Plant Type Orchids, Perennials
Plant Family Dactylorhiza - Marsh Orchids
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 8
Plant Type Orchids, Perennials
Plant Family Dactylorhiza - Marsh Orchids
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
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