The most frequently collected species of Bletilla is Bletilla striata, the Chinese Ground Orchid. Below is a description of many B. striata cultivars which are very popular in the trade.

Bletilla striata

(Chinese Ground Orchid) B. striata includes a broad native supply which includes Japan, Korea, Burma, and the Chinese Provinces of Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Zhejiang, where it may be located between 300′ and 10,000′ elevation in grasslands and evergreen forests. This hardy and very easy-to-grow terrestrial orchid has vertical, heavily textured, iris-like 10″ long by 1″ wide green leaves and creates a slowly spreading clump. In early spring, stalks to 15″ tall of very little Cattleya-like lavender blossoms are held beneath the foliage. The rhizomes spread gradually and eventually form a wonderful mass to 2′ wide in five decades. B. striata grows best in moist to moist soils, even though it’s amazingly drought tolerant. We get many reports of Zone 5 hardiness, but can’t confirm it survivability in -20F without snow cover. (Hardiness Zone 6-9)

Bletilla striata ‘Alba’

(White Chinese Ground Orchid) This is the strong white-flowered kind of the rugged B. striata orchid. Both deeply veined, medium-green leaves arise in early spring, followed immediately by the narrow flower spike emerging from between the leaves. In early May in NC, the 15″ spike is clothed with 1″ pure white flowers. When grown from seed, seedlings often have a purple flush into the petals. Moist-to-waterlogged soils lead to the fastest growth. Under good circumstances, expect a 2′ wide patch in five decades. (Hardiness Zone 6-9)

Bletilla striata ‘Albostriata’

(White Striped Chinese Ground Orchid) This is one of a couple of white-edged kinds of the commonly grown ground orchid. Two reverse iris-like pleated leaves emerge from each pseudobulb in early spring. As the leaves emerge edged in a narrow band of white, the flower spike appears through the middle and then opens a couple of inches above the foliage. The flowers are rich purple in spring, April for us. (Hardiness Zone 6-9)

Bletilla striata ‘Big Bob’

(Big Bob Chinese Ground Orchid) This choice with William Mathias of the Wild Orchid Company has a much taller flower spike which allegedly tops 36″ tall, although our crops and those of others at the southeast never have generated flower spikes which top 18″ tall. The 2″ rose-lavender blossoms with dark and white lavender highlights are made in early to mid-spring. (Hardiness Zone 6-9)

Bletilla striata ‘First Kiss’

(First Kiss Chinese Ground Orchid) There are quite a few white-edged leaf forms of this hardy orchid, most without legitimate names. Our form, B.’First Kiss’, has the identical deeply-veined, long green leaves which emerge from a central stem in late March. In late April in NC, the stalks are topped with little white orchid-like blossoms with a flush of purple on the lip. This vigorous grower will immediately earn a colony when grown in rich, moist soil. In the South, a little bit of shade is useful, while total sun farther north makes a much better floral show. (Hardiness Zone 6-9)

Bletilla striata ‘Gotemba Stripes’

(Gotemba Stripes Chinese Ground Orchid) This Japanese choice of B. striata boasts yellow striped foliage, topped in spring with typical spikes of lavender flowers. B. striata’Gotemba Stripes’ is a much slower grower the other cultivars. (Hardiness Zone 6-9)

Bletilla striata ‘Junpaku’

(Junpaku Chinese Ground Orchid) More than likely, this is the right title for the cultivar B. striata’Alba’, which has pure white flowers. (Hardiness Zone 6-9)

Bletilla striata ‘Kuchibeni’

(Kuchibeni Chinese Ground Orchid) This hard to find but easy-to-grow cultivar from Japan is distinguished by its two-tone blossoms. The top portion of the flower is white, while the lip is a contrasting purple. The foliage and growth habit are the same as in the species. (Hardiness Zone 6-9)

Bletilla striata ‘Lips’

(Lips Chinese Ground Orchid) This Japanese selection has a purple-pink blossom with 3 lips per blossom rather than one….still rather infrequent. (Hardiness Zone 6-9)

Bletilla striata ‘Murasaki Shikibu’

(Murasaki Shikibu Chinese Ground Orchid) This exceptional choice of B. striata has pale lavender flowers with a darker lip that looks bluish into the eye. In our experience, B.’Murasaki Shikibu’ is not as vigorous as the normal species. (Hardiness Zone 6-9)

Bletilla striata ‘Soryu’

(Soryu Chinese Ground Orchid) B.’Soryu’ is very similar to B.’Murasaki Shikibu’ with blue-lavender blossoms.