Bletilla (pronounced ble-TILL-a) orchids are amongst the easiest of all orchids to grow and were one of the earliest exotic orchids imported into Europe.
Bletillas are terrestrial (ground growing) orchids originating from China and Japan. They are deciduous in that they lose their leaves in the early winter and remain dormant until the spring. They produce clumps of creeping rhizomes that should be planted just below the soil surface. Even when not in flower they are attractive having elegant corn-like pleated leaves.
Until recently the only commonly grown species was the purple flowered B. striata. However because of increased popularity new species and variants have been sought and hybrids produced resulting in the availability of blossoms in white, pink, yellow and even one with a blue hue.
Hardy. They can be grown in a sheltered position outdoors but be wary of hard frosts which can scorch the emergent spring shoots. They do best in a cold greenhouse sheltered from harsh weather.
Plentiful during the summer but as the leaves die back in the autumn watering should be reduced accordingly. Once leafless, no water should then be given until the green shoots appear in the following spring.