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Bletilla Striata Alba
True devotion to the hardy orchid
Several years ago I was asked to redesign a very large semi-shaded patio area. The house was huge and the patio ran the entire length. The client specifically asked for unusual years to interest his garden club friends. Looking closely from the patio, used primarily for entertaining, I decided that each clump of annuals should be a small intimate cluster, not a large mass like we used in the background. And, based on previous experience with this client, I knew that everything we put in would be easy to handle and just about fool proof.
I ran out of ideas for plants before I finished this large space. At that time I was very little familiar with the evergreen Chinese ground orchid (Bletilla striata). But from everything I read, it seemed like a good choice. The hardy Chinese ground orchid is known to be very easy to grow, shade tolerant and looks great even after emergence. And, having an annual with flowers that look like real miniature orchids will definitely get the attention of garden clubs. The light sweet scent was an added bonus. I decided to try a small group.
I returned to this garden in late spring about three years after installing the plants. In three years, the seven hardy orchids have grown to a sturdy yard-wide clump with more than a hundred flowering branches – a truly spectacular sight.
Since then I have had many successes (and no failures) with hard arcades. I especially like the white variety – the form we’re featuring today. Hardy orchids add a touch of class to a woodland garden or any partially shaded nook. I don’t know why they are not recognized.
Bletillas are the easiest of all orchids to grow. Bletilla striata Alba bears about a dozen sprays of lightly scented, pure white flowers that appear in late spring for about 6 weeks. The plants are similar to small animals, but with unusually happy tongues. Its rubbery, palm-like arching leaves sway in the slightest breeze and make the perfect backdrop for the white flowers. Bletillas are wonderful, unconventional additions to the garden. They reach a height of about 18 inches, and prefer partial shade in well-drained, well-drained soil that does not dry out in the summer. They can be grown in containers as well as in sunny windowsills as houseplants. As such, they bloom in February.
Hardy in zones 5 (with protection) – 9.
Place the tuber roots below the surface of the soil.
Choose a semi-shaded location.
Plant in compost-filled, well-drained soil.
Water regularly during dry periods until established. To ensure good bud set, pay special attention to watering in the summer.
Fertilize with cottonseed meal and kelp meal in early spring and late fall. (After the first year, hollyton can be substituted for cottonseed meal.)
Cut the plant back to the ground in late fall or early spring.
Mulch well for winter in zone 5.
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#Bletilla #Striata #Alba