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Bletilla Striata (Chinese Ground Orchids)

 

Purple flowering Bletilla striata

As far as terrestrial orchids go, Bletilla Striata are by far the easiest to grow. Attractive flower in spring and strappy grass like foliage these hardy orchids are a must.

A spring flowering plant, Bletilla Striata are also known as "Chinese Ground Orchids" and are indeed best grown in the ground.

Best known for the purple flowering variety, pictured right. A terrestrial orchid they can easily be grown in the garden border or in pots and containers. Flowers will open sequentially with up to 6 - 8 flowers on a stem.

A little temperamental, they might take a year to settle in and flower, however once they do they are very hardy.

Varieties

  • Bletilla striata - The Pink Form
  • Bletilla striata 'Alba' is a white form, bulbs are readily available for sale from online and mail order nurseries.
  • Bletilla ochracea - Rarely offered for sale. A yellow flowering species that is smaller growing and more difficult. One for the collectors.

 

Propagation

Over time these orchids will form a clump, they can easily be divided in early summer, just after flowering. When you dig the clump you will find two types of bulbs. Old bulbs, the harder large ones, and Pseudo Bulbs, the newer smaller ones.

The older bulbs will not flower again, however you can either take an Old Bulb with some Pseudo Bulbs attached and separated them the from the clump. Or just take the Pseudo Bulbs and discard the older ones.

Bulbs should be replanted at around 1/2 inch below the surface.

Summary

  • Easy Care Terrestrial Orchid
  • Pink or white flowers
  • Mulch in winter to protect from frosts, or grow in containers and overwinter in a protected position

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