Orlaya Grandiflora. White Lace Flower.



Orlaya grandiflora
Orlaya grandiflora

Orlaya Grandiflora is a cousin of the wonderfully useful Ammi Majus, a mysterious, sophisticated and saucy cousin…the kind of girl a chap would like to meet out on the balcony during a ball at a Russian palace.

She is a most distinctive annual with pure white umbels which seem to hover over a delicate and much divided fern like foliage. A very soothing addition to the garden or cut flower patch.

How do you grow Orlaya Grandilfora?



Being a hardy annual you can make an Autumn sowing which will give you stronger plants earlier the following year or you can sow in the spring and thou shalt have it flowering until the frosts. I do both…I’m greedy and I don’t care who knows it.

Orlaya Grandiflora may well be lovely but she is also a bit of a handful…if she really was a woman she would be a bunny boiler. Her temperamentality starts at birth. Germinating the seeds can be tricky and you don’t get many in a packet.

I suggest you sow it in pots and keep them in a cold frame or green house over winter. They need to grow a good root ball to survive. As your green house shouldn’t be too full during the winter you can afford to use largeish pots. I use six inch pots. You can sow outside but you are playing a dangerous game my friends…do yer wanna dance with the flower devil? Do yer…do yer!

In the early spring, harden them off and plant them outside to a spacing of about a foot and a half. My Aunt Betsy said you should think nice thoughts when you plant them as they grow prettier flowers but then Aunt Betsy spent the last twelve months of her life thinking she was a unicorn and telling me the moon was making her hooves itch.

Is Orlaya Grandiflora a good cut flower?



Does a bear go poo poo kaka in the woods? Orlaya Grandiflora is made for a vase. It offers a grace and elegance that few other annuals can match. I often use it with dark Black Ball cornflowers…yumtastic…looks like blackberries and cream (if you squint and shake your head from side to side). It also offers height, what is known as ‘upper story interest’ or in the Higgledy Garden as ‘Hot upstairs action’.

It also looks just fantastic on its own in a thin tall bottle…it’s very chic to use vintage bottles and the Joneses will only dream that one day they will be able to keep up.

Can Orlaya Grandiflora help you in your mission to save the world, Higgledy Benjamin?


Oh yes…our friends the bees love a little cuddle and a squeese with Orlaya and who can blame them. With the bee numbers declining we have a serious responsibility to try and provide habitat and good nectar sources for the stingy little nippers. Other insects seem to like it too…hoverflies seem to hang around them and they eat up pests so you won’t need to use rubbish chemicals.

Insects will be food for birds and the birds will be food for the pandas and the beautiful wheel keeps turning…yes indeed Daddio…one world on the way to salvation…saving the world has never been so beautiful.

Please let me know how you get on or have got on with growing Orlaya. We love your comments…it makes us think that there might actually be someone reading…which would be nice. 😉

Please visit the Higgledy garden Shop to see our range of seeds.

Kind regards

Higgledy Ben

31 thoughts on “Orlaya Grandiflora. White Lace Flower.

  1. Ben, I live in North Carolina, USA, zone 5. I planted some orlaya seeds 3 weeks ago and they all germinated. I have put them in the garden and they have many of their ferny leaves. Will they make it over the winter with temperatures below freezing? I was confused–the seed packet said to sow in fall but also said the seeds need to be fresh for the best germination. Could you shed some light on how the seedlings will fair over the winter? Or come spring, will the left over seeds germinate?

    1. if they are hardy then they should be ok…but it depends on what seeds they are and how cold it gets of course…

  2. Hi Ben still waiting for your reply to my email of 19th August 2014 – I don’t want to do the wrong thing with the seeds of my orlaya as I love this flower – c’mon now Ben Im an old impatient lady and I shall be down to sort you out if I don’t hear from you PLEEEEEEEASExx

  3. I planted Orlaya this spring, I’m in Iowa (USA) and started them in April indoors under lights. I was able to germinate about 10 out of the whole seed packet. Of which only 6 made it to transplanting outside. I made the mistake of planting the weekend before Mother’s Day and the very next day we had a snow storm. I ran outside to cover them but it was too late. In the end I have 3 healthy plants left and all have buds and will be flowering shortly. I’m excited about seeing them bloom! I will definitely be collecting the seeds to do another indoor sowing next year!

  4. I have some Orlaya seeds and wanted to know what care they need etc. I’m in Canada and happened upon higgledygarden. Just dropping a note to say that your notes and advice are hilarious…

  5. I was admiring some of these plants in an open garden last year here in Sheffield, UK. The owner of the garden kindly gave me a plant and said I could collect the seeds and they were easy to grow. Kept them til January and then sowed them but didn’t think I had any seed at all as what I sowed just looked like husks! However I have 2 that have germinated and I’m tickled pink! It’s still pretty miserable here and I have these in a rather cool garage so I’m hoping they survive.
    I love your page, and your enthusiasm! Wonderful stuff. Thank you!

  6. Took me longer to identify this little beauty than it did to germinate the seeds. Anyone with access to them, plant the seeds very fresh, and germination happens in 7 days. Let them dry out and who knows, you may be waiting till the moon turns green.

    I’ve pricked them out into 40 odd 9cm pots and will keep them under cover for the winter. As an insurance, I’ve kept some seed till next year, but hope I dont need them.

  7. Orlaya grows a bit like a little lovely weed here in the Antipodes – I liberally sprinkle the seed when it sets and it comes up mostly in our bark paths, so it’s easy to lift and pot on. And just love reading your pages and comments, will try to think nice Aunty Betty thoughts when picking mine. I didn’t know about the hoverflies, so that’s really cool as I am an organic gardener 🙂

    1. thanks Lynne…lots of folk have trouble growing Orlaya over here….’the grass is always greener’! 🙂 Where abouts are you in NZ…not affected by quakes I hope?

      1. Hi Ben, just so enjoying your turns of phrase 🙂 Yes we are in the shaky zone here in Waikanae – have all my special stuff wrapped in towels to avoid the first shake last month, which broke two family vases and some booze flutes… it IS unerving, but we know what to do, and most of us have our preparations in order should the big one strike (we have been promised another biggie this week 🙁 but relying on the fact, they weren’t expecting the last big one, who can believe what. Our old White Island further up the North Island is also blowing it’s stack at the moment, we are stuck between earthquakes and volcanoes, and the up coming Wallabies All Black Game on Sat night in our shaky stadium! I have galanthus nivalis growing in a pot here, carefully guarded and with ice cubes placed over the pot when I planted them, so yes indeed the grass is always greener… but have flowers on them yee haa… Keep up your fabulous descriptions, and good luck with your business I would def be your customer if you were closer here and our immigration laws weren’t quite so stringent.
        regards Lynne

        1. I love your country…I have a small building plot in Te Anau….I would move to NZ at the drop of a hat…sadly I can’t move the business…BUT it may be possible to have a couple of months down time a year…I have chums in Tasman bay…I LOVE it there…..hummmmmmmmmm feeling homesick now.

  8. I bought some seed at the Chelsea Flower Show and I have planted them in pots. It has been several weeks and nothing is germinating. How long does it take to see a sprout?

    1. 2-3 weeks should be fine…it can be tricky…I am in two minds whether to stock the seed in the shop because it can be fickle….and I don’t want to disappoint my customers.

  9. Hi Ben
    Have just bought my first Orlaya plant and love it already! loved your writing about it, brilliant and fun thank you.

  10. Yay, I brought my seeds indoors and stuck them on a windowsil…and they have germinated!! Now to keep them going until the spring (crossing everything!)

  11. Hi Ben, I have sown some of these in pots….do I need to cover them up or do they need light and what sort of temperature should they be kept at? Sorry, I’m an amateur!! Ruth

    PS Love this site!

    1. Hi Ruth…it should be fine but I would protect them if it gets REALLY cold…when did you sow them…if it was very recently they may not germinate as the temps are about to plummet. I generally like to get them in before the end of September.

  12. Thanks Ben for the advice to grow in pots. I have a packet of these which I didn’t get around to sowing in the spring. I really enjoy these articles where you feature a particular flower and find them very useful.

    1. Thank you Martine…glad you like them…there’s another 30 odd to come on just annuals alone over the Autumn and winter…then more on shrubs for cutting and roses…loads of stuff…so please keep your comments coming…they make me realise this labor of love is worth it! 🙂

    1. Good luck with those…mine are going to have to wait till the weekend…crazy week ahead of of beautifiying the gardens of others whilst my flower field gets neglected…must stop saying ‘yes’ to everyone…most aren’t even gardens I like…grrrrrrrrrr…

  13. Here’s a thing – I’ve managed to grow them this year FOR FIRST TIME, by direct sowing, and they’re going over bow – can I use the seeds???
    PS loving the image of the Russian ball

    1. I can’t see why not? Can you send me some to try…and I’ll send you a bunch of flowers in the spring in return?
      I doubt if they are those F1 nonsense things…generally the simple plants like Orlaya aren’t…
      Glad you like the ball image…I always loved those scenes in old films where the couple secretly meet on the balcony and hurrily speak their love to one another.

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