General Description:

Pterostylis is a genus of about 70 species of terrestrial orchids, most of which are Australian but the genus extends to New Zealand, New Caledonia and New Guinea.

Pterostylis monticola is a terrestrial herb comprising a rosette of oval shaped leaves up to 75 mm long. The flowering stems are up to 40 cm high with greenish, striped flowers in which the dorsal (or top) sepal and the petals combine to form a hood around the central column (the fused stamens, style and stigma). The flowers occur singly and are seen in summer and autumn. The plants become dormant in summer when they die back to an underground tuber.

Although a number of Pterostylis species are amenable to cultivation, P.monticola may be more difficult because of the mountain habitat of the plant in nature. However, some success could possibly be achieved using conditions suitable for other Pterostylis species. Generally this involves growing the plants in pots in a freely draining, sandy mix. They require good air circulation in a protected position of about 50% sun during the growing period from late summer. During this growing period the plants must not be allowed to dry out. After the leaves have turned brown in late spring to early summer the pots are allowed to dry out completely. Repotting of tubers can be carried out in summer.

For further information on terrestrial orchid cultivation see Australia’s Native Orchids by Les Nesbitt and the guide produced by the Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS).

Propagation of orchids requires specialised methods and is rarely attempted by the casual grower. The following references provide further information on growing terrestrial orchids from seed.

  • Australian Terrestrial Orchids from Seed; D K McIntyre, G J Veitch and J W Wrigley
  • A New Medium for Raising Australian Terrestrial Orchids from Seed; G J Veitch and D K McIntyre

Both articles appear in Australian Plants, journal of the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia), March 1973.


Plant profile image

Pterostylis monticola
Photo: Tony Rodd


Other Native Plant Profiles