Bletilla: how to plant and groom outdoors

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Bletilla: how to plant and groom outdoors
Bletilla: how to plant and groom outdoors

Description of the bletilla plant, planting and growing an orchid in the open field, how to care for a flower indoors, breeding rules, how to deal with pests and diseases, interesting facts, species.

Bletilla belongs to the genus of plants included in the Orchidaceae family. According to various sources, scientists have counted from 5 to 10 species in the genus (some argue that there are three dozen of them). The native habitat of the natural distribution of these representatives of the flora falls on the East Asian lands, which include Japan and China, Myanmar and Vietnam, and bletilla also grow in Taiwan. Preference for plants is given to damp and humid places on the hills and slopes of the mountains, while the soil should be clay-sandy. Some of them are quite popular among gardeners.

Family name Orchid
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous
Breeds Mainly by dividing, by seeds
Dates of planting in open ground In spring, after warming up the soil
Landing rules Place pseudobulbs at a distance of at least 15 cm
Priming Orchid substrate or ordinary garden soil
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (neutral) or about 7 (slightly alkaline)
Illumination level Sunny locations
Humidity level High level, landing in partial shade possible
Special care rules Timely feeding and removal of wilted flowers
Height options Up to 0.6 m
Flowering period May, December-January, July-August
Type of inflorescences or flowers Small-flowered brush or spikelet
Color of flowers From pure white to purple
Fruit type Seed dry boll
The timing of fruit ripening August
Decorative period Summer in our latitudes
Application in landscape design Group planting in flower beds and flower beds, recommended for cutting
USDA zone 5–9

Bletilla owes its scientific name to the addition of a diminutive suffix to the term "Bletia", which defines the genus of orchids originating from the American expanses. Well, this genus was named in honor of the scientist Don Luis Blet, who lived in the 18th century in Spain, engaged in botany and pharmaceuticals and traveled to the lands of Peru and Chile. Both of these orchids have similar characteristics, but the bloom is large in size.

All types of blethillas are perennials with a herbaceous form of growth. Like many orchids, the plant forms pseudobulbs that resemble bulbs. Usually, in such organs, in epiphytic plants (growing in nature on other representatives of the flora), moisture and nutrients accumulate. This helps delicate flowers to survive dry and unfavorable climatic periods. The shape of the pseudobulbs is rounded, they are dense to the touch, although they are underground, they are poorly buried. In spring, each of the pseudobulbs becomes the source of several leaf blades. Bletilla stems can reach a height of only 60 cm. Their surface is bare, painted in green color.

The foliage of this orchid takes on broad-lanceolate outlines with longitudinal folds. The leaves are characterized by a green tint, but there are species with a variegated color. The leaves are not hard to the touch. The length to which the sheet plates are maximally stretched reaches half a meter.

It is the flowering of bletilla, like many representatives of the orchid family, that is its decoration.The buds can bloom both in May (in warmer regions) and throughout July-August (in a temperate area), and in natural conditions, flowers also open in the middle of the deputies (around December). A small-flowered brush or spikelet is formed from the buds on the flowering stem. The length of the peduncle varies from 20 to 40 cm.

Bletilla flowers are small in size, but they have a pleasant, faint scent. The flower shape is like all orchids, with the presence of sepals (upper sepals and lateral sepals), petals (side petals), columns, lips (labellum) and polynias. Sepals have obovate outlines with elongation, petals are slightly shortened with a crescent outline. The color of the petals can be very diverse, that is, vary from snow-white to purple. The lip has a wide outline, there is a division into three lobes and a serration. Specks are clearly visible on it. The narrowed blades from the sides cover the column, while the middle blade has an arcuate backward bend or it protrudes slightly forward. The column shape is thin. The number of pollinia usually reaches two pairs.

Usually, already in August in our latitudes, when pollination is completed, fruits in the form of dry bolls begin to ripen in the bletilla. When fully ripe, such bolls open into 3 or 6 leaves. The seeds are practically dust-like, the distribution of which in nature occurs through the wind.

The plant is easy to care for, but it will still need to comply with the conditions described below for growing, and then such a delicate flower will decorate the flowerbed on the site almost all summer.

Recommendations for planting and caring for garden orchid bletilla

Bletilla blooms
  1. Landing place garden orchids should be picked up in an open, well-lit location, which will be the key to good development and lush flowering. In the dense shade, the color of the flowers fades, and their number is significantly reduced. So also, such a flower bed should be protected from direct streams of ultraviolet radiation at midday, as well as from the effects of a draft. Therefore, it is recommended to plant bletilla on the southeast, east, southwest and west sides; partial shade may also be suitable. Planting such plants is best organized in groups. Do not place your garden orchid bushes in lowlands or where moisture can accumulate from rains. It is this aspect that is most important when cultivating such plants in the garden. Some growers drop the containers in which the Bletilla is planted in elevated places in the area with well-drained soil. For the winter, such plantings are protected with an inverted wooden box and sprinkled on top with a layer of dry foliage.
  2. Soil for bletilla you should choose a nutritious one, rich in mineral components, which will have a positive effect on growth and subsequent flowering. The most favorable soil mixture is a combination of a sod-clay substrate, foliage of litter and humus soil, taken in equal parts, adding half of the coarse-grain river sand. You can also use a mixture of leafy soil, lime and river sand, or crushed charcoal, chopped moss, fine expanded clay and crushed tree bark taken in equal volumes, 2 parts of peat chips are also mixed there. Special commercial orchid soil is also used. Any of these compositions will be characterized by different-sized granules, which will perfectly pass both air and moisture to the bletilla root system. It is important that the soil on the site is constantly sufficiently moist, but not flooded.
  3. Landing garden orchids in open ground is carried out in the spring, when the soil is already warmed up enough. It is best to purchase pseudo-bulbs for planting in specialized nurseries or flower centers.If reproduction is carried out independently, then it is important to select bulbs that are free from damage, strong and with an even-colored surface. Also, there should not be any signs of rot. Before planting, in about a month, the pseudo-bulbs of bletilla are transferred to a warm room, and when the sprouts become visible, you can start planting. Digging holes for planting are 10x10 cm in size, and about 10-15 cm deep. A little expanded clay or small pieces of broken brick should be placed at the bottom of the hole. It is not uncommon for gardeners to use limestone pieces of the same size. The drainage height should be 1/3 of the height of the planting hole. A prepared soil mixture is poured onto the drainage layer, into which you can mix mineral fertilizers or which are fertilizing for orchids. Do not violate the fertilizer manufacturer's instructions, as the bletilla bulbs will be burnt. The deepening of pseudo-bulbs should be no more than 5–10 cm, while trying to ensure that the sprouts on the bulbs are not covered with soil. The distance between plantings does not exceed 15–20 cm. After the plants are planted, they are watered and the soil should be mulched on top with peat chips so that the soil surface does not dry out too quickly, and this layer does not allow weeds to grow. Watering until rooting is done is tried to be done in moderation, but it is better to irrigate the plantings of bletilla, in order to avoid flooding of the soil.
  4. Watering when growing a garden orchid in the garden, it is necessary to carry out a moderate one, but when the bletilla enters a dormant phase (usually this period is observed throughout July-August), the soil moisture is completely stopped. At this time, the plant loses its leaf plates and only when the dormancy ends, the watering regime is resumed. Waterlogging of the soil must not be allowed, otherwise this unpretentious orchid will die. If the weather is dry and hot for a long time, then watering is carried out more often, and during rainy periods it is not required at all. With the arrival of autumn, it is recommended to moisten the soil less and less, and before setting the bletilla for wintering, they are completely stopped in 14–20 days.
  5. Fertilizers when cultivating garden orchids in the open field, they are introduced only during the growing season. To do this, use a 0.01% solution of a complete mineral complex of fertilizers (for example, Fertiki, Mr. Color-Universal or Agricola) or use specially designed products for orchids, such as Stimul, Magic Grow for orchids or Mr. Color-Orchid.
  6. Wintering a garden orchid in a warm climate will not cause problems for the gardener, but when cultivating bletilla in the European zone of Russia (when the thermometer readings drop below -5 frost in winter) it will become difficult and the pseudobulbs will not be able to survive the temperature drop. Therefore, it is necessary to remove it from the soil for the winter and keep it dry and cool until spring. When gardening winter bletilla, the plants should be protected from moisture, first by covering the area where garden orchids are planted with a wooden box or an inverted bucket, then covering with non-woven material and a layer of dry leaves or fallen coniferous sawdust.
  7. The use of bletilla in landscape design. Although this garden orchid is not pretentious in care, but when growing it, you will need to think over not only enough space, but also the plants that will be planted nearby. Due to its brightly colored flowers, this plant is recommended to be planted as an accent on a flower garden, and perennial flowers should be placed nearby that can compete in it in decorativeness and growth rate. A garden orchid will look good, towering over low-sized ferns, with hosts or small-leaved acene.

See also the rules for caring for fayus when growing at home.

How to care for indoor bletilla?

Bletilla in pots

Despite the fact that this plant grows well in the open field, but if the growing region is characterized by harsh winters, then it is better to keep the garden orchid in a pot.

  1. Place for placement the bletilla pot should have good lighting, but at the same time it should be protected from direct sunlight. This can be arranged on the south, southwest or southeast window, pulling it up with light curtains at noon. Draft protection is also important, as flowers can lose their petals.
  2. Priming for growing a garden orchid in a pot must be nutritious and light. For this, a mixture of peat chips, beech foliage, garden fertile substrate and river sand, or a substrate based on river sand and leafy soil, may be suitable. You can use ready-made commercial mixtures for orchids, which is suitable for almost all species from this family.
  3. Temperature for home care, bletilla should be moderate, while in the cold season, the plant can be transferred to colder conditions.
  4. Planting bletilla in a pot. To start growing a garden lily at home, it is recommended to choose pseudobulbs that have already formed small sprouts. A sufficient layer of drainage should be laid at the bottom of the pot, which will protect the root system from waterlogging. Its layer should take up almost 1/3 of the pot's volume. Drainage material can be small expanded clay or pebbles. Soil is poured onto it and the pseudobulb is laid with roots on top of the drainage layer. After that, the soil mixture is carefully poured around. When planting, it is recommended to ensure that the sprouts on the Bletilla bulb are not covered with soil. The first time after planting pseudobulbs, the soil should remain moist, therefore irrigation should be performed. Normal watering can be maintained when the sprouts are clearly visible.
  5. Watering when caring for a garden lily indoors, it is performed in the same way as when cultivating it outdoors. That is, in the period of July August, when the bletilla is at rest, no moisture is needed. Also, in the first month after planting, only the substrate is irrigated, and only after this period has passed (usually it is enough for rooting), full watering can be performed. When moistened, make sure that drops of moisture do not fall on the flower petals, otherwise they will rot.
  6. Fertilizers for indoor cultivation, bletilla is applied when planting a pseudobulb, mainly preparations intended for orchids should be used. If compost was added to the soil during planting, then the garden orchid should be fertilized already when the buds begin to bloom.
  7. Transplant with indoor bletilla cultivation. The best time will be when the garden orchid is dormant. For this, the pseudobulb is removed from the planting container along with the soil. If you can't do this carefully, then you just need to cut the pot. All other steps must be carried out adhering to the rules of the initial landing. But before planting, the bulbs should be soaked, rinsed in running water, and then dried. If the stems of the plant are too long, then support should be provided before adding soil to the pot.

See also the rules for caring for miltonia at home.

Bletilla breeding rules

Bletilla in the ground

To propagate a garden orchid, the seed or vegetative method is used. As the latter, the division of the bush is performed.

Bletilla propagation by division

Early spring is most suitable for this operation, when vegetative activity has not yet begun. In the process of growth in a garden orchid, whole nests are formed, formed by pseudobulbs. The plant is removed from the soil and the root system is divided so that each of the sections has 3-4 bulbs. First, they are placed in small pots, and then transplanted into large containers.

Also, planting of bletilla divisions can be carried out directly into open ground, but this requires that the soil does not dry out while the process of adaptation and rooting of pseudobulbs is underway.


Before planting, sprinkle all sections with activated charcoal or charcoal powder for disinfection.

When grown as a potted crop, the garden orchid is divided when it is no longer fit in the pot.

Reproduction of bletilla using seeds

is not an easy task, and it is usually used in nurseries, but if you have patience, you can try to grow garden orchid seedlings yourself. To do this, soil for orchids is poured into the seedling box, after which it is moistened, but not watered as usual, just sprayed a little from a spray bottle. In the soil, grooves are formed, where the seed material of the bletilla is placed and lightly powdered with the same soil. Crop care in itself involves spraying the surface of the substrate, if it has begun to dry out.


When growing seedlings of garden orchids, make sure that the soil does not dry out, but always remains moist, but not flooded.

Only when several months have passed, the watering of Bletilla seedlings begins to be carried out in full. At the same time, the seedlings are provided with a good level of lighting, and if it is not enough, it is recommended to carry out additional lighting. The germination temperature should be between 20-22 degrees (no higher than 25). When the sprouts get stronger, they begin to harden. To do this, they select a sunny day and take out a box with seedlings outside. The first time "walks" should not exceed 10-15 minutes, but then they are gradually increased until the time that the seedlings will spend on the street becomes round the clock. Then you can start transplanting young garden orchid plants to the flower bed.

How to deal with pests and diseases when growing bletilla?

Bletilla grows

When grown in the garden, this orchid is more harmful to slugs and snails. So gastropod pests gnaw the leaves. You can fight such "uninvited guests" by means of folk and chemical methods. As a folk one, you can deal with sprinkling the soil with crushed shells or lime. Chemical products will be made on the basis of metaldehydes (for example, Meta-Groza).

Green aphids are also harmful insects that spoil the planting of bletilla. These small bugs are engaged in sucking nutritious juices from the leaves of the plant, and through their bites, infection with viral infections can occur, which cannot be eliminated, and all specimens of the garden orchid will have to be destroyed. You can fight aphids using a broad-spectrum insecticide and acaricide, for example, Malathion.

The diseases that bletilla suffers are recognized as:

  1. Black rot affecting pseudobulbs of plants and leaf plates. Darkening of tissues occurs on these parts. The onset of this disease is preceded by a decrease in temperature and high humidity. The leaf plates begin to turn black and gradually die off. There is no way to cure the specimen, and it must be removed; nearby growing bushes of bletilla should be treated with fungicides (such as Fundazol).
  2. Fungal diseases of the root system, provoked by waterlogged soil. To move the plant out, watering is cut back and a chemical treatment is performed, such as Bordeaux liquid. If the affected area is large, then the entire plant must be destroyed.

Read also about pests and diseases of lycast in indoor conditions.

Interesting facts about Blethill

Blooming Bletilla

There are species in the genus that are successfully used in Chinese traditional medicine. Garden orchid-based drugs help to stop internal bleeding and provoke a decrease in the size of tumors. In Asian markets, you can find the dried root of this plant, in layouts with medicinal herbs.

Types of bletilla

In the photo, Bletilla is striped

Bletilla striata

may occur synonymously Bletilla hyacinthina (Bletilla hyacinthina). Occurs from Chinese territory and southern Japanese regions. By the way, in the land of the Rising Sun this species is called "shi-ran", which means purple orchid. The parameters reached by the height of the stems are in the range of 30–70 cm. The rhizome is annual pseudobulbs, with tuberous outlines and thickening. The entire part growing above the ground consists of leaf plates and a flower stem. Through elongated closed deciduous sheaths, a false stem is formed, falling in height in the range of 12-15 cm, and together with the inflorescence, the indicator of such a stem reaches 45 cm.

Three sheaths in the lower lobe have scaly outlines and are devoid of plates, the fourth sheath with a fold takes the form of a leaf. There are 3-4 true leaf plates in striped bletilla. The foliage has an inverse lanceolate shape, with a pointed tip, on the surface there are longitudinally extending folds. The length of the leaves ranges from 20-30 cm. The color of the foliage is green, with no pubescence or hairs on it.

Bletilla hyacinth bloom is observed from mid-June to mid-July, but it does not happen annually in our latitudes. The inflorescence crowning the peduncle is represented by a rare spikelet composed of 1–8 buds. The size of the flowers is average, their length is 3-4 cm. The color of the petals in them is bright, lilac-pinkish. A light delicate aroma can be felt during flowering. The bracts have a petal-like shape, their shade is greenish-purple, when the flowers begin to bloom, they fall off.

The sepals are obovate, the apex is pointed, while the petals have irregular obovate lanceolate contours, blunt. The lip, which has three lobes, has an elongated oval shape. Bletilla striped petals, located on the sides, are raised up, and their edge is wrapped in the middle, which makes it possible to form a tube. The ends of the side petals on the outside have a triangle-like shape and a rich color scheme, but the edge is whitish. The central blade has a groove outline. Inside the flower, there are 5–7 whitish combs with curly-toothed outlines. The lobe has brownish longitudinal lines between the scallops. In the central part, it has multiple dots and specks of a dark crimson tone. The edge outside the middle lobe, together with a medium-sized central notch, is dark purple.

The column in the flowers of Bletilla hyacinth is straight, whitish below, and crimson at the top. At the bottom and in the center, there are tiny strokes and specks of a brown hue. The polylines are placed in one pocket, the ovary has a bent, but it is not twisted.

There are the following interesting varieties of striped Bletilla:

  • Alba whose flowers have a snow-white color, often a pink blush may be present on the petals. This varietal form is grown on the territory of the Nikitsky Botanical Garden and blooms from the beginning of summer for a month. Fruiting occurs in August. The height of the stems reaches 70 cm. The inflorescence is few-flowered (only 3–8 buds), spike-shaped. When opened, the diameter of the flower reaches 5 cm. Foliage with a bright green tint, grows sprawling. Can be grown in garden containers, rock gardens or terraces. The landing site should not be sunny, and draft protection is provided.
  • Albostriata (Albostriata) a variety of bletilla hyacinth with white petals on which stripes of pink color are traced.
  • Purple or Purple is an exotic plant due to the bright color of the flowers. Perennial, the height of the bush reaches 45 cm. The leaf plates are wide, stretching to a length of 20–30 cm. At the top of the leaves there is a sharpening, the general shape is inverse lanceolate, longitudinally extending folds are put on the surface.The diameter of an open flower is measured 4 cm. The petals are purple-crimson. The spikelet-shaped inflorescence has 3–8 buds. The lip in the flower is rather wide, divided into three lobes. On the lower blade, there are scallops of a lighter tone. Flowering begins with the arrival of summer and lasts 3 weeks. When planting this bletilla, partial shade and nutritious moist soil are required. When winters are too harsh, the plants are dug up and transferred for storage indoors, providing darkness and coolness.

Bletilla hyacinth is suitable for cultivation in our latitudes and is able to tolerate partial shade, preference should be given when planting to rather wet substrates, alkaline, clay and loamy soils are suitable.

In the photo Bletilla is brown-yellow

Bletilla brown-yellow (Bletilla ochracea)

Perennial, with a herbaceous vegetative form, the stems of which are extended to a height of 0.4 m. The leaf plates are soft and pale green in color. There are well-defined folds on the surface. When flowering, the inflorescence crowning the peduncle is of a low-flowered, ocher shade. At the same time, the height of the flowering stem is equal to 35–40 cm. The size of the flowers at full disclosure is small, the shape, like all orchids. The aroma during flowering is practically not perceptible.

Related article: Rules for the care and reproduction of Makodes orchids

Video about growing bletilla outdoors:

Photos of bletilla:

Photo Bletilla 1 Photo Bletilla 2 Photo Bletilla 3 Photo Bletilla 4 Photo Bletilla 5

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