If you’re welcoming today’s summer solstice by enjoying some time outdoors, it’s always a good idea to keep your eyes open for whatever surprises nature can offer. Some can be so petite that they’re easy to overlook, but I find it’s often worth the effort to be observant. Case in point: these delightful Orchis flowers, which span less than 3/4 inch (2 cm,) and sit atop tiny plants whose stems are only 2 inches tall (5.1 cm.)  This uncommon and unusual little charmer is native to Japan, where it grows in damp grasslands, mossy cliffs, and rock crevices. Its Japanese name means “butterfly wing orchid,” an apt description of the tiny blooms.

Orchis flowersOrchis flowers and budsOrchis flower and buds

With just a few narrow leaves on a stem, it looks more like a grass than an orchid. The mini plants emerge from small tubers in the spring, and can be grown like tulips or daffodils. I planted these in rich, sandy potting soil. In the fall, they’ll start to lose their leaves, and then go completely dormant for winter. Japanese growers have developed several color varieties, ranging from shades of purple to pink to yellow.

Orchis flower close upOrchis flower close up

Orchis flower and budsOrchis flower and plant

In case you’re wondering about the similarity of the name Orchis to the word orchid, it’s not just a coincidence. Relatives of this Japanese orchid live around the Mediterranean, and they were some of the first orchids known to ancient Greeks and Romans. Over time, as Europeans discovered more kinds of orchids, the Orchis genus lent its name to the entire orchid family.

Explore posts in the same categories: Cool Growers, Dormancy, Growing, Mini Orchids, Photos

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5 Comments on “Orchis”

  1. Cory Says:

    Hi, this is a real interesting post. it’s amazing that those little plants are only 2 inches tall. Compared to the size of the plant, the flowers look big, but really there tiny too. i think plants that small would just be completely smothered by other plants in a grassland, but somehow they manage to survive.

  2. Sara Says:

    Pretty good post. I just came across your blog and wanted to say
    that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  3. Robin Ng Says:

    Thanks for the beautiful photos!

  4. Joy Blake Says:

    Those are great flowers! Thanks for the photos.

  5. GreenThumbGuy Says:

    Cool pics… thanks