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Bletilla striata (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Bletilla striata (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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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. ‘Murasaki Shikibu’ has bluish lavender flowers. 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 when crowded.)

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