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The Plant Guide

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Ladies’ tresses

Spiranthes cernua 'Chadds Ford'

spear-AN-theez SIR-new-ah Audio

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. 

CareProvide 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.

PropagationTake divisions of tubers when dormant. This plant reproduces rapidly from underground shoots and from seed under very damp conditions.

ProblemsSusceptible to spider mites, thrips, and aphids.

  • Genus : Spiranthes
  • Plant Height : 1 to 3 feet
  • Plant Width : 1 to 3 feet
  • Zones : 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Bloom Time : Fall
  • Characteristics : Fragrant Flowers
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Plant Type : Perennials
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest
  • Flower Color : White
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