Spiranthes is a genus of terrestrial orchids of around 300 species spread throughout the world. Spiranthes australis was previously known as Spiranthes sinensis var. australis. It is a terrestrial herb comprising 3 to 10 narrow leaves up to 100 mm long. The small, tubular-shaped flowers are bright pink with a white labellum and occur in a long spike which has a twisted form. Flowering occurs in summer and autumn after which the plants become dormant and die back to an underground tuber.
Spiranthes australis is a relatively easily grown species, so much so that plants occasionally occur as weeds in greenhouses. Generally the plants are grown in pots in a freely draining, sandy mix. They require good air circulation in a protected position of about 50% sun during the active growing period after flowering.
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.
Photo: Jill Dark