Bletilla sp

Rand Nicholson
Wed, 15 Jun 2005 06:51:37 PDT
Arnold, Joyce & All:

I grew Bletilla striata outdoors here in Canada in zone 5a. It lasted for two years and did not bloom after the first year. The second year, it had dwindled to a few shoots from about six. At this time, those winters just happened to be mild (for us) winters with a fair amount (about a meter) of snow cover during the coldest months.

Three blocks over, a neighbour grew the plant into an amazing clump for over seven years, pretty much out in the open, that bloomed (she said) like clockwork every spring.  Compared to those that I struggled to grow potted, blooming sporadically and taking them indoors for a winter dormancy, the colour of her blooms were particularly intense, with the flower detail very defined. She had no idea that it was an orchid until I told her. She "just got a clump from a friend's pot that they had bought from a supermarket (sold as a houseplant) ... " and put it in a semi shade garden. I found out later that she dumped over a foot of mulch on those beds every fall and did not remove it until the ground underneath had thawed through. She put the mulch on the day after the first _hard_ frost, cold enough to freeze the first centimeter or so of soil solid in fall.

Now in my new home, I have planted a few in the border alongside the southern side of the house, about a foot out, and I will mulch them heavily this fall. We will see what happens next spring. Bletilla are not considered to be even marginally hardy by most experienced orchid growers in this area, but, my neighbour did not know that and , apparently, nor did her plants. Sadly, a few years back, she retired and moved to parts unknown and those that took over the property seem to be more into lawns. There is no trace of there ever having been a garden on that property, except for a border planting of Wal-Mart annuals.

I regularly kick myself for not taking my neighbour up on her repeated offers for me to "try some of mine, maybe they are different ...". I bet over the years those Bletilla had become "different".


>I just picked up the bletilla at a plant sale at the Manhattan Rock Garden Chapter.  I haven't planted in the ground yet.  I have to find the right spot, I think it is marginally hardy here in NJ.
>pbs mailing list

Rand Nicholson
Zone 5a Eastern Maritime Canada

More information about the pbs mailing list