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Bletilla striata, photo courtesy of Ernst Kucklich
Bletilla striata, photo courtesy of Ernst Kucklich

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Zones 2B, 3-9, 12-24
Partial Sun
Regular Water

Bletilla striata

Chinese Ground Orchid
Bulbs and bulblike plants, Orchids and bromeliads, Flowers

A natural companion to ferns and wildflowers, Chinese ground orchid is native to China, Japan, and Tibet. In spring, up to a dozen pinkish purple, 2-in.-wide, blossoms resembling those of Cattleya appear on each 1–1 1/2-ft. stem. Bloom lasts about 6 weeks. Pale green leaves, three to six to a plant, remain attractive into early fall. ‘Alba’ is a white-flowered form. ‘MurasakiShikibu’ has bluish lavenderflowers. B. s. albostriata bears light pink blossoms above leaves striped in green and white.

Grow in containers or in moist (but not waterlogged), humus-rich woodland soil. Plant dormant pseudobulbs from late fall to early spring, positioning tops 1 in. below soil surface (2 in. below in colder regions) and 1 ft. apart. Mulch if temperatures will drop below 20°F (–7°C). Protect leaves from slugs and snails. Reduce watering when foliage begins to yellow in fall; discontinue when leaves die. Forms large clumps that can be divided in early spring, before growth starts. (However, blooms best whencrowded.)

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