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Caring for Bletilla striata Orchids

bletillaBletilla striata is a terrestrial known as the ‘Chinese Ground Orchid’.  Blooms are in shades of purple to lavender and appear on upright stems in early spring.  Inflorescences appear from the center of the new foliage, usually in late March through May.  The foliage is thin and pleated, and the small flattened bulbs are usually just below or at soil level.  This species is winter hardy for many growers and can be cultivated in most gardens with some basic care.  As with all terrestrials, we do not allow the roots to stay dry for long periods of time and in some climates or conditions may need daily watering, whether in pots or the ground.

For those growing these specimens in your yard, choose a place where there is dappled sunlight.  Especially for those in warmer states, these shoubletillald be protected from direct mid-day sun.  The growing media should hold moisture but drain freely.  These will not do well in packed or clay like soil.  If your winter temperatures are below freezing for long periods, a layer of mulch is required.  Fertilize and water frequently during the growing months, starting when new growth emerges in spring.  We use a high nitrogen fertilizer in spring and early summer, such as Growmore 30-10-10. Then switch to a more balanced formula like Growmore 20-20-20 through early fall.  When temperatures turn cool and plants begin to lose foliage stop fertilizing and water much less frequently to avoid rotting roots.  Also, if you are choosing to plant in the ground, make sure the plant shows a very full pot of roots before you do so and disturb the roots as little as possible when transplanting.  This one breaks the rule of thumb about replacing all the growing media when replanting. Try not to break any roots when repotting.

These can also be grown into impressive specimens in large plastic tubs with plentiful drain holes.  If you are growing in a greenhouse or areas where temperatures stay above freezing, they may not lose all their foliage during the winter but similar care to above should be given.

Our growing media for plants in pots is as follows:

  • 1 part- Fine Grade Fir Bark or Cypress Mulch Media
  • 1 part- Light Peat based potting mix, such as for houseplants
    (Do not use anything with fertilizer or moisture beads added)
  • ¼ part Fine Grade tree fern

Note: This guide is only applicable to Bletilla striata Orchids. For other varieties, please click on one of these links:

Carter & Holmes Orchids PO Box 668 629 Mendenhall Rd. Newberry, SC 29108 USA

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