Growing Bletilla (Hardy Chinese Ground Orchid)

Latin Name Pronunciation: bleh-till'-ah 

A deciduous terrestrial Orchid for woodland gardens, with blossoms that resemble little Cattleyas opening in June and July. The clusters of long-lasting flowers on slender stems and the deeply veined, Iris-like leaves arise from tuber-shaped rootstocks (corm-like pseudobulbs).

Light/Watering: Full sun to partial shade, protected from afternoon sun. Water thoroughly after planting and give new plants a good soaking once a week during summer, unless rainfall is plentiful (more than 1 inch per week). Established plants can generally get by on less water, but most grow best if the soil remains evenly moist. Please note that more is not better. When in doubt, don't water. Keep dry in winter while plants are dormant.

Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Grow in moist, well-drained soil rich in humus. We recommend against fertilizing at planting time and during the first growing season in your garden. Plants need time to settle in before being pushed to grow. Most established plants grow best if fertilized with a light hand. We fertilize perennials just once--in early spring--with a light but even coverage of a balanced, granular fertilizer (such 10-10-10 or an organic fertilizer). If a concentrated, water-soluble fertilizer is used, please follow the manufacturers' recommendations carefully.

Continuing Care: Easy to grow, Bletilla will spread to form generous clumps. For best flowering, give it a period at or near freezing; mulch during winter. Where Bletilla is not winter hardy (Zone 5 and colder), it can be grown in containers and brought indoors.