This individual plant has already flowered once and is now several years old. It is quite difficult to know how long many of our native orchids will live, but for some we already have some definitive data, simply because we have been growing them for so long. Of course, not all plants will have the same life span. They may succumb to pests and disease along the way, but we expect our Dactylorhiza species, the marsh and spotted orchids, to live for about 20 years. This is not so much of a surprise considering that even with the prolific rate of seed production by these species, the rate of germination and seedling survival in the wild is small. It therefore makes sense that the only way a plant can guarantee species survival is to produce seed for as many years as possible.
The story is complicated, as it so often is with these lovely flowers, by thevariable time it takes for the plant to move from seed to flower. Some are quite quick by orchid standards, if not in comparison with ordinary garden plants, taking only three years. This is in the ideal conditions of our laboratory and nursery, in the wild it will be much longer.
This is one of the delights of the way in which we grow our plants, you can have them flowering in your garden meadow this year if you get them in early. We are a nursery with an agenda, to help these plants survive and repopulate the wild areas of the UK. So if you are, or know someone who is, setting up a wild flower garden, make sure they have some orchids in there.