Bletilla striata

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 4 Professionals
Common Name: Chinese ground orchid
Type: Bulb
Family: Orchidaceae
Native Range: China, Japan
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Pinkish-purple
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy

Culture

Best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade. Some afternoon shade is essential in hot St. Louis summers. Plant corm-like pseudobulbs to 4” deep in spring. After flowering, continue to provide regular moisture to plants for the remainder of the growing season. May not be reliably winter hardy throughout USDA Zone 5 where a winter mulch is advisable. Will naturalize over time in optimum growing conditions by short rhizomes.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Bletilla striata, commonly called Chinese ground orchid, is a terrestrial orchid which produces small, cattleya-like, pinkish-purple flowers (to 1.5” long) in 3-7 flowered racemes atop naked scapes typically rising to 18” tall. Blooms mid to late spring. Each pseudobulb typically produces 3-5, linear, pleated, papery-textured, sword-shaped, pale green leaves (to 12” long). Foliage dies to the ground in winter. Synonymous with Bletilla hyacinthina.

Genus name honors Luis Blet, a Spanish apothecary who had a botanic garden in Algeciras towards the end of the 18th century.

Specific epithet means striped.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs and snails are occasional visitors.

Garden Uses

Best in part-shade areas of borders or rock gardens. Good container plant, especially for areas north of USDA Zone 5 where it can easily be brought inside in winter.