Orchids are lovely flowers that are widely admired but most orchids require very special orchid mixes for successful growth. Bletillas are a genus of perennial orchids that grow in soil (terrestrials) and die down to ground level during winter.
Common name: Hyacinth orchid
Botanical name: Bletilla striata
Description: This perennial plant grows to around 40cm (18″) tall with clumps of strap-like leaves. Flowers appear from late spring to early summer on a spike. Each flower is about 2.5cm (1″) long. Colours include carmine pink, white and pale pink.
Climate: Bletillas are from eastern Asia and prefer a cool to temperate climate, thriving in mountain gardens and cooler areas of southern Australia. They are worth trying in warmer zones but need protection from summer rains.
- shade in summer.
- humus-rich soil.
- good drainage – drainage is vital especially in areas with high summer rainfall. If drainage is poor this plant could rot off in the ground.
- a cold winter to encourage dormancy.
Dislikes: This plant dislikes hot, dry soil and poor drainage.
Propagate by division of existing clumps during early spring
Look for mail order suppliers or rare plant specialists.Bletillas may be difficult to find but are worth the effort. The bletillas featured in our segment were filmed at Mt Tomah in the Blue Mountains, NSW.
Plants are priced from $4-$8 for a 15cm (6″) pot.
Tallowa Dam Road
Kangaroo Valley 2577
Phone: (02) 4465 1655 Matcham Valley Plant Place
Phone: (02) 4367 7116
Pine Heights Nursery and Bulb Farm
Everton Hills 4053
Phone: (07) 3353 2761
via Wodonga 3691
Phone: (02) 6027 1514
(This nursery has a mail order service. Phone or write for further details.) Bryan H Tonkin
Olinda Creek Road
Phone: (03) 9728 1295
They have mauve and white bletillas. The mauve will cost $5 for two corms and $8 for one white.
Don Schofield’s Garden is at Skyline Drive, Mount Tomah, NSW. The garden is open for public inspection on the following weekends in spring; 19-20 & 26-27 September and 3-4 & 10-11 October 1998. The garden is open from 10am-4pm. Admission cost is $3.