Alphabetical Plant Listing

Spiranthes cernua (Nodding Lady's Tresses)

Nodding Ladies'-tresses, Ladies'-tresses, Nodding Lady's Tresses, Ibidium cernuum, Spiranthes cernua var. incurva


A wonderful plant in the fall garden, Spiranthes cernua (Nodding Lady's Tresses) is a clump-forming terrestrial orchid boasting an erect, slender stalk bearing small, white flowers arranged in an intriguing spiral. Each blossom nods downward, giving the plant its name. Blooming from late summer to late fall, often to the first frost, the flowers are wonderfully fragrant. They grow in 2-4 spiraling rows, forming a dense spike 6 in. long (15 cm). Both long-tongued and short-tongued bees occasionally visit the blossoms for nectar. The plant produces a rosette of 2-6 strap-like basal leaves held upright that may begin to wither shortly before the flowers bloom. Native to eastern North America, Nodding Lady's Tresses occurs naturally in moist sand prairies, sandy savannas, areas adjacent to paths in moist fields, meadows, bogs, marshes, and fens, as well as along roadsides and riverbanks. It spreads slowly by rhizomes to form colonies under optimum growing conditions. This orchid can also reproduce from the seeds of the flowers. One of the easiest hardy orchids to cultivate in the garden, this adaptable and vigorous orchid is perfect for the fall bog garden.

  • Grows up to 10-18 in. tall (25-45 cm) and 10-12 in. wide (25-30 cm).
  • Performs best in full sun to part shade in moist, boggy, acidic soils.
  • A beautiful addition to bog gardens, near pond areas
  • Remove seed pods and flowering after a late fall frost to stimulate root and daughter-plant growth.
  • Propagate by root division. Taking divisions of tubers from mature plants during the dormant period makes propagation easier.
  • No serious pest or disease issues.
  • Native to eastern North America.

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Requirements

Hardiness 5 – 9
Plant Type Orchids, Perennials
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 9" – 2' (22cm – 60cm)
Spread 10" – 1' (25cm – 30cm)
Spacing 12" (30cm)
Water Needs High
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moisture Retentive, Poorly Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, New Mexico, Oklahoma
Tolerance Wet Soil
Garden Uses Bog Gardens, Ponds and Streams
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow

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NC Orchid, Flickr

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.


Requirements

Hardiness 5 – 9
Plant Type Orchids, Perennials
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 9" – 2' (22cm – 60cm)
Spread 10" – 1' (25cm – 30cm)
Spacing 12" (30cm)
Water Needs High
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moisture Retentive, Poorly Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, New Mexico, Oklahoma
Tolerance Wet Soil
Garden Uses Bog Gardens, Ponds and Streams
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow

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