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  • Jane Westoby

How to Grow Orlaya Grandiflora

Orlaya Grandiflora is probably the one flower I get the most questions about. It should be very easy to grow and once you know what it needs it truly is.




I love it because it crops earlier in springtime than many other flowers when I really need it, so the effort taken in its germination pays back when you need it the most. I tend to not grow it later in the summer, really because there are so many other flowers to use by then and I'm often all Orlayad out!


However much prefer it to all of its nearest cousins in the Ammi Family. I find it more sophisticated and I also prefer to use it rather than gypsophila where available. All in all its lacy, graceful and elegant, what more could you want.....


So why it there so much fuss over its germination and why is it so tricky?

Orlaya is extremely cold hardy and infact it needs cold stratification to germinate. So there is no need to worry about protecting it from frost. It can be sowed direct out in the open and will withstand temps down to -20 degrees. Problems arise when it's sowed and the temps are just too warm, as it won't germinate. Orlaya needs periods of just below and just above freezing to germinate successfully. Sometime several times for each seed to germinate.


When Should Orlaya be sowed?

That depends on how much effort you want to put in, how much space you have and more importantly when you need the flowers.


The easiest way to grow Orlaya is to sow the seeds in Autumn just as the weather starts to cool. If you have a bed ready and prepped you could sow them direct and cover just to protect them from heavy rainfall or snow damaging the leaves. Otherwise in trays of compost and you can leave them either in an unheated greenhouse or a cold frame.


They can be a little slow if they don't get the fluctuations in temps needed so be patient. You can also pop the seeds into the fridge and freezer alternatively for a few weeks beforehand to give them a helping hand.


Autumn sowings will flower early in the season in springtime and set seed relatively quickly. so if you want a succession or if you have missed the boat then Orlaya can also be sowed in Springtime. Simply use the fridge/ Freezer method to trick the seeds into thinking winter is here for a few weeks before sowing.



Growing Orlaya on

Autumn sowed seeds can be planted out when they have filled their cell blocks with around two or three sets if leaves. Don't wait too long let then get rootbound. Remember they are very cold hardy so can be transplanted out as soon as they are big enough even if its cold outside. Even though they don't need protection from the cold they do need some from the general harsh winter weather which will damage their leaves such as heavy rainfall, snow, wind & snacking pests. I have found that the voles in our garden are a little partial to Orlaya seedlings! Once the weather warms they will also benefit from some cover if you want an early crop. In the polytunnel I have managed to get them to bloom in late April and outdoors during May.


Spring sowed seedlings a little like sweetpeas will be more tender so will need to go out a little later. They are still hardy and will take a light frost. I have also found that spring sowings flower for longer than autumn sowed and will continue throughout the summer.






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