What should I do with my Bletilla striata?

valray(Z4)August 21, 2014

I almost lost my Bletilla last year (over wintered in my "cold room") but was happy that one cluster of leaves survived. I kept it in the fridge over winter and it sprouted this spring when I brought it out and started watering. All summer it survived but didn't really increase in size. I hoped that the bulb/tuber was growing underground and figured I'd dig it up when the foliage got hit by frost, then keep it in the fridge again. It won't survive the winter outside where I live.

But today I found that something had nipped off all the foliage just above the soil. :( So the question now is, should I leave it in the ground and hope that it puts out new growth where it is, then lift it before winter sets in? Or lift it now and put it in the fridge for early dormancy? Or seeing that they'll survive z9, grow it as a houseplant this winter?

What do you think would be best?

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tolumniamatt

Terrestrial plants with tuber growth such as this orchid do not continue growing during the season. They put out growth in spring and the new tuber (bulb-like growth) grows in size underground as the warm season goes on. Your plant has lost its leaves to a forager but at this time of year the tuber has grown close to it's final size for the season anyway. However, I would not dig it out of the ground yet. Leave it in the ground until oh, mid-October then dig it out and refrigerate.

Do not grow it as a houseplant, it does need to get somewhat cold to put it in dormancy (rest) and complete its cycle.

How cold did your cold room get last winter?

Matt
SE New Hampshire

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 7:06PM
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valray(Z4)

Thank you Tolumniamatt. We moved in the meantime so I don't have my cold room any more, just the fridge. The fridge obviously stays above freezing about 4 degrees C. Do you think it will send out new growth in the next few months if I leave it in the ground?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 7:33PM
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valray(Z4)

Thank you Tolumniamatt. We moved in the meantime so I don't have my cold room any more, just the fridge. The fridge obviously stays above freezing about 4 degrees C. Do you think it will send out new growth in the next few months if I leave it in the ground?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 7:36PM
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tolumniamatt

No, it only puts out growth in spring

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 8:11PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
Have tried to grow those in s. florida with disappointing results . They require a cool cold rest period though there a couple of types much more tolerant. but still require a distinct chill to do well. There are sites that will give you temp ranges and durations for the various types.
I keep my Venus fly traps in the fridge during winter which works BUT often get mold . Have that problem with Bletilla?? My wife insists on keeping food in the fridge which I'm sure is the problem but a separate fridge just for a few plants?? lol gary

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 3:58AM
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valray(Z4)

Thanks Tolumniamatt. Sorry for not reading your first response more carefully. I get it now and I'll take your advice.

Garyfla - had to laugh about your wife wanting to keep food in the fridge. Very strange behaviour. :). I kept the bletilla in a dryish peaty mix in a clay pot in a loose plastic bag. I checked it once in a while and if there was mold on the soil I would take the plastic off and let it dry out a bit.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 7:36AM
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dbarron(z7_Arkansas)

Valray, the real solution is to move somewhere the Bletilla is hardy. I've had them in my gardens for years (don't currently...ummm due to a move and haven't replanted any).

Tell your wife that she can have the fridge for food, as long as you can move at least another zone farther south (and maybe two).

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 7:42AM
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Grandy4(9-10 FL)

This site has good information on the Bletilla. In FL mine are in pots and stay out all year. I had them in the ground and they weren't doing very good. After I potted them last year them have doubled in size and bloomed almost contentiously this summer.
Good luck!!

http://www.carterandholmes.com/bletillacare.html

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:35PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
Besides putting food in the fridge during a particularly hot spell she actually turned the air off in the greenhouse .
"It's more important to cool the house!!" was her defense
i blame her upbringing for her lack of priorities!! lol
She actually once referred to some cool growing orchids as PLANTS!!! That's like saying diamonds are rocks or Vodka is only for breakfast?? lol good luck with your move ?? gary

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 4:49AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
certainly didn't mean to make light of the situation. Always the ?? comes up as to how far to go to provide for a certain plant . Seems to be no limit . But experience has taught me 'particularly with orchids is to grow those types that fit into your method of culture . if you live in a cold climate grow those that fit into it or provide limited adaptions don't go overboard as I did . What a waste of time energy and money!!! good luck gary

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 5:33AM
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valray(Z4)

Thanks for the advice Gary. Your 'lightness' was appreciated! It was easy to keep my few not-hardy perennials in pots in my cold room when I had one. I have definitely reduced the number so should only be one or two (or three) in the fridge. :) until I get my new cold room built.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 7:43AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
remember the debate with my wife when I said "What I need is a refrigerated GH!!! She replied "Why don't you grow those types that fit into our climate/" What a stupid idea !! I'd be reduced to less than a thousand types!! lol
Sounds like you're on the way to "overboard?? lol Good luck with that!! gary

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 5:34AM
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