Svante Malmgren Henric Nyström
Gymnadenia conopsea and Gymnadenia odoratissima are very easy to propagate using asymbiotic techniques. Gymnadenia conopsea is very beautiful and is a good plant for the garden as long as it is not allowed to become too dry. The species varies slightly depending on its European site of origin. The Swedish form is tall and elegant with a wonderful scent. Gymnadenia odoratissima is also variable and the Swedish type is rather small.
Growing medium: Like Dactylorhiza.
Sowing time: Mature seeds early in autumn, followed by 8 weeks of cool treatment in the fridge. 100% germination after that in Gymnadenia conopsea; 10-25% in Gymn odoratissima.
Seed treatment:Gymnadenia seeds have a rather thick seed coat. Seed dormancy can be broken by treatment with H2SO4 + NaClO. 2% H2SO4 ( = 2/9 Molar) for 10 minutes, followed by 1% NaClO for 15-20 minutes.
Growth on medium: Just like Dactylorhiza. Mature plants are easily obtained on medium the following autumn.
It is probably just the (soluble) problem of seed treatment that has prevented the widespread propagation and marketing of Gymnadenia from reaching the same scale as that of Dactylorhiza!
10-20% of Gymnadenia plants flower at 4 years of age and 90-100% at 5 years old. The plants are easy to grow in soil even if small, just like Dactylorhiza.
Gymnadenia conopsea hybrids, however, are possibly even better garden plants. They have the elegance of Gymnadenia conopsea and might demonstrate the size, colour and vigour of the other hybrid partner.
Gymnadenia conopsea x Dactylorhiza fuchsii has been raised from seed on a large scale on several occasions and is a perfect garden plant, growing to 65cm in height and increasing by division every year.
Gymnadenia conopsea x Nigritella nigra and Gymnadenia conopsea x Dactylorhiza foliosa rank amongst our favourites and have raised regularly. The flowers of the latter are 2-3 times the size of those of Gymnadenia and bear a stronger colour! They reach 30-35cm in height.
Gymnadenia conopsea can also be hybridised with a very large number of other orchids. Gymnadenia conopsea x Dactylorhiza sambucina, however, was small and most definitely ugly! A few Gymnadenia conopsea x Orchis militaris grow in our garden but are still too small to flower.
Gymnadenia odoratissima, too, can be used for hybridisation. Gymnadenia odoratissima x Nigritella nigra is one example but it is much smaller than Gymnadenia conopsea x Nigritella nigra and we do not plan to repeat the cross.