The Serapias lingua is a genus of orchids widespread in Italy and in most of Europe and the Mediterranean area; S. lingua is a native Italian species, it is a terricolous orchid, which develops fleshy bulbs, from which erect, fairly thick, light green stems branch off, often in the apical part they take on a pinkish color; the leaves are ribbon-like, with the base wrapped around the stem, light green, wrinkled. In spring, at the apex of the stems some pinkish flowers bloom, which have a long red or purple, bilobed, pubescent lip, surmounted by a striped helmet, consisting of two sepals and a tepalus united to form a small cavity, which sometimes serves as a shelter for pollinating insects. The other species of Serapias have flowers of this particular shape, the colors change: S. meglecta has a pink-orange color; S. vomeracea is paler, with a whitish-green cap.
These orchids are not very widespread on the market, and they are rare species in nature, which it is better not to take from the places where they grow spontaneously; in any case, specimens produced by nurseries can be found, which are grown outdoors, in a semi-shady place, or in any case shaded on the hottest days of the year. Direct exposure to the sun's rays could burn the leaves and flowers of the plant, damaging the growth of our Serapias tongue. They are plants that do not fear the cold, in winter they generally go into vegetative rest, and the aerial part dries up.
As far as watering is concerned, the Serapias lingua can bear short periods of drought without problems; from March to September we intervene by watering the substrate only when it is dry enough, avoiding to soak it excessively. Otherwise, water stagnation and the appearance of root rot could occur. During the cold months we avoid watering as the lower temperatures allow the plant to grow without particular irrigation.
The choice of the cultivation medium is fundamental for the good growth of the serapias. In fact, the soil represents the main source of sustenance for plant species, for this reason it is advisable to choose an ideal type of soil based on the specific cultural needs of our plant. Serapias lingua prefer loose, soft soils rich in organic matter; we can use a mixture consisting of soil of leaves, sphagnum peat and some pieces of chopped bark. It is possible to administer liquid fertilizer dissolved in the irrigation water to the plant in order to help the plant in its growth process.
Reproducing these plants could be a real satisfaction. Multiplication is not particularly difficult but it is good to know the best methods to get the best results. The multiplication occurs mainly by division of the tufts of bulbs but also by seed it is possible to reproduce these plants.
Serapias lingua: Parasites and diseases
Generally, these plants are not afraid of the attack of parasites or diseases, if the cultivation conditions are adequate. Make sure to provide adequate irrigation and to avoid water stagnation.