This group of species are all summer dormant having a single oval tuber. They fall into two groups; those that are native to the UK and can be grown either outside or in a cold greenhouse, and continental species that can only be grown under glass.
Each outdoor species has its own requirement regarding soil pH and the conditions under which it will thrive. Specific information can be found in the individual writeup.
When grown under glass it is important to manage watering carefully and ensure that the pots do not get warm in the autumn. The best way is to grow tubers in small terracotta pots plunged into coarse sand which is kept damp.Plants are sent potted to the UK and in August the compost is quite dry to replicate summer conditons in the wild. On receipt spray the top of the pot each day for the first week. If the pot is plunged then start watering from the sand which should ensure the bottom part of the pots compost willstay damp. If necessary spray the surface to keep it damp until the plant comes though. If watering from the top avoid water in the centre of the rosette. Plants sent later will have started growing and whilst it is important to keep the compost slightly damp ensure the rosette is reasonably dry.
Reduce watering in the mid winter when growth stops but at no time let the pot dry out.
Tubers start to grow when night temperatures begin to drop and it rains or are watered. Some will quickly form a rosette whilst others only throw up a spike with the rosette not opening until the new year. Growth will continue until day length shortens and daytime temperature drops to a low level. Growth recommences in the new year when day length increases and temperatures rise. Depending on the species flowering occurs from March to June. As the plant flowers on its single spike quite often the leaves will turn yellow and start to die back.
It is important to appreciate that care needs to be taken when growing in pots, especially in the autumn as damp atmosphere and fluctuating temperatures can lead to neck rot if plants are under stress.
See information under ophrys and orchis for additional cultivation suggestions.