Alphabetical Plant Listing

Bletilla (Hardy Orchids)

Bletilla striata, Chinese Ground Orchids, Hyacinth Orchids, Bletilla hyacinthina, Bletia hyacinthina, Bletia striata


Bletilla are deciduous terrestrial perennial orchids boasting attractive pleated, linear to lance-shaped leaves, and erect racemes of bell-shaped flowers in spring and summer. The delicate flowers vary in color from white to purple to yellow. The genus includes five currently recognized species distributed through China, Japan, Taiwan, south to Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. Bletilla striata (Chinese Ground Orchid), Bletilla formosana Taiwan Ground Orchid), Bletilla ochracea (Chinese Butterfly Orchid) are 3 popular hardy species of orchids grown by gardeners in temperate climate areas. They grow from pseudobulbs that resemble spreading corms and usually sit at ground level. A well established clump of these in flower is quite beautiful and rewarding.

Bletilla Growth Cycle

New shoots typically appear in mid spring, forming a lush bouquet of long, green leaves. Starting in late spring, flowering is at its best in early to mid summer. The foliage remains fresh-looking during the entire growing season before fading and disappearing in the fall. Bletilla then enters a period of winter dormancy. Bletilla will naturalize and multiply modestly by short rhizomes and by seed dispersal in ideal growing conditions.

Bletilla striata (Chinese Ground Orchid)

Known as Hyacinth Orchid or Chinese Ground Orchid, Chinese Ground Orchids are native to Japan, Korea, Myanmar and China. These terrestrial orchids are among the most vigorous and simplest to maintain in the garden. They produce small, cattleya-like, pink, purple or white flowers, 2 in. wide (5 cm), in pretty racemes rising artfully above the foliage. Blooming for about 4-6 weeks in late spring to early or mid summer, the flowers open from the bottom of the raceme and progress to the top for a long lasting display. Each pseudobulb produces 3-5 upright, pleated, sword-shaped, pale green leaves which add interest and distinction to the landscape from mid spring until the frost cuts them down. Chinese Ground Orchids are as attractive in pots and containers as they are in beds and borders.

They can be grown outside in zones 5 through 9 and should be protected by mulch in winter in the regions where the temperature regularly descends below -4°F (-20°C).
Chinese Ground Orchids prefer sunny or semi-shaded sites and thrive in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils. In summer, water them freely, applying a quarter strength balanced liquid fertilizer at every third watering. Keep them dry in winter.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 9
Heat Zones 5 - 8
Climate Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 2B, 3A, 3B
Plant Type Bulbs
Plant Family Bletilla - Hardy Orchids
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Height 1' - 3' (30cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 2' (30cm - 60cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders, Patio and Containers
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage

Lui12/Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 9
Heat Zones 5 - 8
Climate Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 2B, 3A, 3B
Plant Type Bulbs
Plant Family Bletilla - Hardy Orchids
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Height 1' - 3' (30cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 2' (30cm - 60cm)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders, Patio and Containers
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
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