Position – Some sun and part shade
Soil – Moist, well-drained
Flowering Period – April to June
Hardiness – Hardy
Bletilla are an easy to grow deciduous, terrestrial orchid, originating from China and Japan, amongst other Asiatic areas. They are hardy perennials, with tuber like pseudo bulbs, retaining moisture for drier seasons. They have ribbed foliage early in the year which is followed by spikes that grasp up to 14 bell-shaped open mouthed blooms during spring and summer. They can grow to a height of 30cm (12") and a spread of 45cm (18").
Bletilla look great in both borders and containers, thriving in moist, loamy but well-drained soil if kept in a sunny or partly sunny position. The best time to plant Bletilla is in the spring before growth commences. Dig a hole that is approximately 15 cm deep so that there is plenty of room for the roots to take hold. Once in position, water thoroughly and deeply to settle the soil in place and to encourage a healthy root development.
Whilst Bletilla is a hardy genus, the pseudo bulb is only just situated under the surface; therefore, it will not tolerate any heavy frosts unless it is well protected with a layer of mulch. You may decide to initially grow this plant in a pot, so that it can be stored in a frost-free environment over winter. Keep the soil moist during active growth reducing the volume provided in winter. Apply a quarter strength balanced liquid fertiliser with every third watering.
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