Serapias, Tongue orchid

Serapias orientalis

Comments to the offered plants:

Serapias orientalis X Serapias neglecta.  This cross has not yet flowered. The parents are very different and pleasantly scented. The plants grow very well..

Serapias lingua.  These plants produce several daughter tubers to increase vegetatively. Blooms appear regular, with large rose flowers. Flowers are scented in nice weather. This clon is widely distributed in Australian collections.


Endemic around the mediterranean sea. Occuring mainly in coastal regions with fewer populations further inland in Spain, France and Italy.

The genus Serapias consists of more than 20 species. Many species are only recently described and some are still undescribed. Leaves are long and relatively narrow. The flowers of most species are large. Sepals and Petals form a helmet (tubular galea), from which a prominent lip (tongue) projects. Often, Serapias are assumed to be pollinated by insects, searching for a shelter during the night or in bad weather. Contrary to this assumption, many species are scented during nice and warm weather, each species producing a very different set of perfume.

Serapias is easy in cultivation. All plants are summer dormant and rest as tuberoids. Plants emerge in late summer and flower in spring and early summer. Culture sunny or lightly shaded. Regular watering during the growing period is essential. Fertilized on a regular basis with 0.3g/l until flowering, once or twice a month. Reduce watering with the onset of flowers and stop as the leaves die back. Completely dry during dormancy in pot culture. Occasionally a light spray of water for small plants and seedlings to prevent dehydration. If grown inside, move plants temporary outside in late summer as cool nights and some rain will stimulate plants into the new growing season. Frost hardy up to -6°C.

Recommended potting mixes:
70% fine to medium grade perlite, pumice or fine expanded clay give good results. 30% organic components. Favourable  are fermented or N-impregnated wood shavings or saw dust. (Toresa has given good results.) 30% peatbased mixes as TKS1 have given even good results. Spagnum moss is not suitable. Substrates have to be well draining with a pH of about 6.

Further reading:
Orchids of Britain & Europe
. Pierre  Delforge, 1995. Collins Photo Guide. ISBN 0 00 2200244.
Orchideen im Garten: Verwendung, Pflege und Vermehrung. Gerd Kohls und Ulrich Kähler, 1993. Parey ISBN 3 489 63624 4.
Orchideen für den Garten: Europäische und tropische Erdorchideen. Alfons Bürger, 1992. Ulmer ISBN 3 8001 6487 6.
Hardy orchids. Phillip Cribb and Christopher Bailes, 1989. Timber Pr. ISBN 0 88192 147 5.

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