Ladies’ tresses

Spiranthes cernua 'Chadds Ford'

Photo/Illustration: 
Bill Johnson
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Ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes cernua 'Chadds Ford')
spear-AN-theez SIR-new-ah
Synonyms:  S. cernua f. odorata 'Chadds Ford'
Genus:  Spiranthes
This deciduous, terrestrial orchid has linear, acute leaves 2 to 10 inches long. At summer's end, it produces sweet, vanilla-scented, 1- to 3-foot spires of white flowers that last for weeks and hold up well as cut flowers.
Noteworthy Characteristics:  'Chadds Ford' is a moisture-loving bog plant, but may grow in everything from dry shade to wet, sunny spots. Plants almost double in size every year; the tips of their roots curve upward and produce new plants, a characteristic unique to Spiranthes among orchids. 
Care:  Provide full sun in the north and protection from the midday sun in warmer climates. 'Chadds Ford' is easily cultivated in a damp or wet site with a very loose soil mix of sand, leaf compost, and peat. In Zones 4 to 7, plant in spring to give it a chance to become well established before winter. In Zones 8 and 9, either fall or spring works well for planting. After a frost in late fall, remove the flowering stems and seedpods to stimulate root and daughter-plant growth. Mulching with 1 to 2 inches of chopped leaves or pine needles around each plant is a good way to protect it from severe winters and encourage a quicker start in the spring.
Propagation:  Take divisions of tubers when dormant. This plant reproduces rapidly from underground shoots and from seed under very damp conditions.
Problems:  Susceptible to spider mites, thrips, and aphids.

Overview

Height
1 ft. to 3 ft.
Spread
1 ft. to 3 ft.
Light
Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture
Medium Moisture
Maintenance
Moderate
Characteristics
Fragrant Flowers,
Native,
Showy Flowers
Bloom Time
Fall
Flower Color
White
Uses
Beds and Borders,
Cut Flower
Style
Woodland Garden
Seasonal Interest
Summer Interest
Type
Perennials

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