This native of China, Japan, and Tibet is a natural companion to ferns and wildflowers. In late spring to early summer, each 1- to 112 feet stem carries up to 12 pinkish purple, 2 inches blossoms resembling cattleya orchids. Bloom lasts for about 6 weeks. Medium to yellowish green leaves, three to six to a plant, remain attractive into early fall. 'Big Bog' is a vigor- ous, large-flowered selection. 'First Kiss' has white-edged leaves and small white blossoms flushed purple on the lip. 'Murasaki Shikibu' has pale lav- ender flowers with a bluish- lavender lip. Hybrid 'Kate' can reach 3 feet tall, with up to 35 light lavender, yellow-lipped flowers per stalk. Bletilla Striata alba is a white-flowered form. Bletilla Striata 'Albostriata' bears light pink blossoms above leaves striped in green and white.
Grow in pots or in ground. Plant pseudobulbs anytime during dormancy (late fall to early spring), 1 feet apart, with tops 1 inches below soil surface. Plant in humus-rich, well-drained soil; mulch if temperatures will drop below 20F. Protect from slugs and snails when leaves emerge. Taper off watering when foliage begins to yellow in fall; discontinue when leaves have died back. Plant forms large clumps that can be divided in early spring, before growth starts. (It blooms better, however, when crowded.)