|Height:||10-30 cm (0.3-1 ft)|
|Flower Colors:||pink, purple, blue, white|
|Life form:||deciduous rhizome|
|Climate:||USDA Zone 7-9|
Bletilla striata is a terrestrial orchid from China, Taiwan and Japan. The rhizomes will form pseudobulbs half in and half out of the soil from which the leaves and flower stems appear early in the year. It has lance like, ribbed, mid-green leaves and bears bright purple-pink flowers between April and July. Plant in leafy, moist but well-drained soil in light shade in a sheltered site. Needs to be on the dry side in winter when dormant. May need a winter mulch in regions that get regular frosts and can also be planted with the pseudobulbs completely underground to improve hardiness. Pot grown, first two photos by Arnold Trachtenberg. Third photo is by Michael Mace, who grows them in California in a pot with good drainage and year-round water. This photo shows the very pronounced ruffles in the throat of the flower. Fourth photo by David Pilling.
I planted the pseudobulbs about four years ago in a border. In winter (I live in the North of Italy and we usually experience -10/-15 °C) I mulch them with dried leaves. I noted that it is frost resistant, but it is very sensitive to late frost. All photos below by Alberto Grossi
Bletilla striata var. alba is not so vigorous as the former. The white flowers get a purplish tinge with age. Pictures by Alberto Grossi and Martin Bohnet
Bletilla striata var. albostriata has delicately white edged leaves.
Bletilla striata 'Soryu', which has blue flowers; photographs by Mari Kitama and Martin Bohnet; Soryu means Blue Dragon.
Bletilla striata 'Tri-Lips' has a very peculiar flower mutation, forming ruffled lip structures from all three inner petals.