All about Spiral Orchids!

These terrestrial orchids are rare in an unusual sense: For orchids, Spiranthes sinensis are so easy to grow you may soon have too many of them. They grow from seed so readily that the year after a good bloom you will find them coming up in many of your bonsai pots, looking like a broad-leaved grass—we had so many in some bonsai pots in Japan that we cut them low with scissors to keep them at bay. Which seemed a serious disgrace to such an endearingly beautiful, easy to grow, and cheerful plant.

They are called nejibana, ‘screw/spiral flower’, in Japanese. Once when up in the mountains in Japan I saw them growing wild, near the edge of a high pond in wet grass. If you can provide good sun and constant moisture they should grow for you without trouble, and they can take a good freeze without complaint. This is a much more forgiving orchid than the popular if hard to find Egret flower-

Spiral orchids in a mixed planting blooming this month in my backyard. They seem to be happier growing with other things—you might consider them ‘extroverted’ plants…

This pairing was like a barbershop pole mirror image, which was funny as usually they come up at different heights and look appropriately asymmetrical (for a bonsai companion plant). The individual blooms are 1/4″ long, and the sequential blooming period can last longer than a month.

Website with more photos and info about spiral orchid:

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  1. Oenotrian says:

    I’m living in Okinawa now, and we have these growing as lawn weeds. It’s so funny to think of orchids as weeds.

  2. Linda Deming Ratcliff says:

    I want one so bad!!!! How do you gt one? Also the Egret orchid…

    • crataegus says:

      I was given some years ago and they self-populate now. I’ve heard there are several unusual orchid businesses that will sell terrestrials like this, just takes a bit of searching. Haven’t needed to buy any myself so I’m a poor resource for who is best to go with. They are out there, though-

  3. Zak D says:

    I love these, I just pre-ordered some from kusamono gardens for next season. Would you be able to tell me what plants are in the mixed planting in the first picture? Specifically what type of grass that is? So dense, i love it.


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