Bletilla flowers are a hardy ground orchid that are ideal plants for USDA zones 6-9. The most popular varieties are Bleilla striata species. They are easy to care for and will bloom each year in the spring or summer. They are a great addition to your garden.
Orchids are breathtakingly beautiful. Their exotic appearance makes them a favorite ornamental plant, but they have a reputation as being difficult to grow.
They are the largest family of flowering plants, with over 30,000 species and more than 200,000 hybrids. Some of these are incredibly difficult to grow indoors. However, hardy orchid plants are perfectly happy growing on a sunny windowsill.
Bletilla flowers are one of the easiest orchid species to grow, and one of my personal favorites. The most commonly grown types are Bletilla striata species.
Table of Contents
- Terrestrial vs Epiphytic orchid
- Growing Hardy Orchids
- Bletilla Species
- Bletilla Flowers FAQs
Terrestrial vs Epiphytic orchid
There are 25,000-30,000 orchid species. There are two basic types of orchid. A terrestrial orchid grows in soil. An Epiphytic orchid grows in the air. This can bring to mind a magical image of an orchid floating in midair. Of course, the reality is a bit more mundane.
Epiphytic orchids grow on trees in the wild. Most species are native to tropical climates.
They can be grown in peat moss, lava rocks, or dried fern roots. These mediums are similar to the tree bark the flowers grow on naturally.
The terrestrial orchid, as the name suggests, grows in the ground. They do not grow well in traditional dirt or potting mix, because they need a loose growing medium.
Many gardeners choose a 50/50 mix of compost and potting soil. You can also find potting soil mixes specially formulated for orchids.
Epiphytic orchids must be grown indoors unless you live in a tropical climate. Terrestrial orchids are very difficult to grow indoors.
Growing Hardy Orchids
Orchids are notoriously difficult to grow, but the reputation isn’t always well deserved. Hardy orchids are usually terrestrial species naturally found in woodland or grassland. These species are easier to grow than many other types of orchid.
Given their reputation, orchids are an intimidating plant to grow, but they are very rewarding. The key to success is to understand the type of orchid you choose to grow and its unique needs.
Bletilla orchids are commonly known as Chinese ground orchid. Bletilla species grow well in moist soil. The soil should be nutrient-rich and well-drained. They grow best in partial shade.
As the name suggests, Bletilla orchids are native to China. Plant the flowers in spring about four inches apart and two to three inches deep. They should be divided in early spring.
There are five Bletilla species. Each species also has subtypes or hybrids. Types of Bletilla flowers include:
- Bletilla chartacea
- Bletilla foliosa
- Bletilla formosana
- Bletilla ochracea
- Bletilla striata
The Bletilla striata species is by far the most popular. It is considered the easiest type of terrestrial orchid to grow. This makes it a great choice if you are looking for a hardy garden orchid.
Bletilla ochracea and Bletilla formosana are not as hardy as Bletillia striata, and can be more difficult to grow. Bletilla chartacea and Bletilla foliosa are not commonly cultivated.
Bletilla striata is a deciduous terrestrial orchid that anyone can grow. The best Bletilla striata species to plant are:
- Bletilla striata
- bletilla striata alba
- bletilla striata ‘albostriata
Bletilla striata is also known as the hyacinth orchid, urn orchid, and ground orchid. The flower grows from pseudobulbs. The plant grows well in USDA zones 5-9. However, they may not fare well in USDA zone 5 winters.
The leaves are sword-shaped and pale green. It’s a great choice for a woodland garden. It is self-seeding, so it will spread over time.
The flower dies out to the ground during the winter, but comes back in the spring. The flowers are pink or lavender. They bloom for about a month every summer.
Bletilla striata ‘alba
Bletilla striata alba is a miniature ground orchid. The plant has delicate white flowers in groups of 5-10. It grows well in USDA zones 6-9. It does well in partial shade or full sun.
It requires lots of moisture during the growing season. Well-drained rich soil is optimal.
Bletilla striata ‘albostriata
Bletilla striata ‘albostriata is a hardy plant that produces bright purple flowers. They are a beautiful addition to your garden.
They have two iris-like leaves with the flower spike coming up in the middle. They grow well in USDA zones 6-9. They are dormant during winter and begin producing foliage in early spring.
Bletilla ochracea is a hardy ground orchid native to China, also known as the Chinese Butterfly Orchid. It has pale yellow flowers and pleated leaves. The flowers are small and delicate. It requires well-drained soil and plenty of sun. Like other Bletilla species, adequate moisture is essential, particularly during the growing season.
Bletilla formosana is a hardy ground orchid with magenta flowers. It is not as cold tolerant as other Bletilla species, and should only be grown in zones 7-9.
It requires full sun or partial shade. It grows to one foot tall and blooms in summer, typically June through August. The soil must remain moist for the plant to flourish.
Bletilla Flowers FAQs
How do you plant bletilla striata?
Bletilla striata grow best in a light aired soil with good drainage. If your soil is dense or clay-rich, you can add compost designed for hardy orchids. Adding lava rocks can improve drainage. The bulbs can survive a light frost, but excess moisture in the wintertime can damage the pseudobulbs.
Where do you plant orchids?
Hardy orchids can be planted in your garden or in pots outdoors. Other types of orchids require a humid and warm environment. These types of orchids grow best indoors.
Are used coffee grounds good for orchids?
Coffee grounds are an excellent fertilizer for orchids. You can mix coffee grounds with compost. You can also put equal parts water and coffee grounds in a bucket. Let it sit for 24 hours, then strain the coffee grounds out of the water. Use the grounds for compost and pour the coffee water onto the soil.
How often do ground orchids bloom?
Some ground orchids bloom for one month during the spring or summer, while other species can bloom the majority of the year with the right weather conditions and care.
How do you divide ground orchids?
First, prepare the area where you will plant the new orchids using a soil mix designed for orchids or a combination of soil, compost, and perlite.
Dig in a circle around the orchid remaining 2 to 3 feet from the center of the plant. This allows you to avoid hitting the roots of the plant. Once you’ve reached a depth of 3-6 inches all around, push the shovel under the orchid to remove the plant from the ground.
Remove loose dirt from the root ball and prune away any rotted roots. Pull starter crowns away from the main crown. If roots are tangled, prune them away. However, each starter should have several healthy roots.
Before replanting the main orchid, ensure that the hole is twice the size of its root ball in diameter and the same depth as the root ball. Fill with displaced soil. Continue this process with the new orchid crowns, leaving 2 to 3 feet of space between plants.
Do you water orchids from top or bottom?
What does orhcid mean in chinese culture?