Will Ground Orchids Survive in Northeast or Central Florida?

love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)October 6, 2012

Is anyone in northeast or central Florida growing Ground Orchid ('Spathoglottis') outdoors in the ground year-round? Will they survive a hard freeze? My Lowes has them on clearance right now and I sure would like to get some - - if they will survive year-round outside. If they have to be kept in pots and brought indoors, then they are a no-go. I don't mind freeze-back to the ground if they will come back from the roots. What is your experience?

One of my new rules is no more purchases of tender plants that have to be brought inside during the winter. I have plenty of those.

Of course, rules are made to be broken.



Here is a link that might be useful: Google Images - Ground Orchid Spathoglottis

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I grew them up in Jacksonville Beach. They froze to the ground but always came back.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 6:10PM
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I planted some in the ground last winter (I'm in Panama City), zone 8b, and they did NOT come back this year - it was a mild winter. I will put this year's plants in the greenhouse.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 10:06PM
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It would also depend a bit on how dry the soil is. Damp or wet soil will "transfer" the cold deep down around the plant and kill it. Dry soil is an excellent insulator.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 10:47PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

As I read more and more, I'm learning that it really boils down to which one it is: Bletilla striata (Chinese Ground Orchid) or Spathoglottis plicata (Ground Orchid)? Bletilla can survive temps down to down to USDA Zones 5-6 but the other one cannot. It appears that if the plant were in bloom, it would be easy to determine which one it is because the flowers are very different. But I don't know how to tell the difference when the plant is not in bloom (which the clearance plants are not!). The foliage in pictures of the two plants looks very, very similar. I have no idea how to determine which one they are selling.

We all know that the plant label doesn't necessarily mean anything...

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 11:23PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

The spathoglottis is rated at 60 but will survive much lower. Bletilla originates from a bulb and actually requires a cold rest period to flower. The Bletilla would be much better choice in fact almost ideal Usually spaths are sold as growing plants while Bletilla are sold as bulbs. But you can tell by the bulb for sure.
There are several other temperate orchids that would do well in beds IF you can find them??lol gary

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 3:33AM
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I have many spathoglottis in all colors and they survived the 2 cold winters we had here with die back. Some did die off completely and it took a year to get them blooming again. It is one of my favorite plants.

I read on Dave's Garden that the bletilla will grow in Tn,so they might be the better choice.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:30AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Thanks, you guys are great! I appreciate the knowledge and hints! Since these are potted clearance plants, I can't see the bulbs. But I think I will take a chance on them. I will buy them today and take some photos when I get them home. Then maybe you can help me make a positive ID?

Thanks so much!
Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:18AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Calling on the experts! I went back to Lowes and picked up the plant. And then I found more, not on clearance, which are still in bloom! So I took a bunch of pictures. The cell phone takes fairly lousy pictures but see photos below. What do you think these are? Based on the blooms, I think they are Spathoglottis plicata but I'm interested to hear what you think.

For anyone in Jax that may want one, there were still four pots left and they are at the Regency Square Lowes. (I had previously been to the Lowes on Phillips Highway and Lowes on Atlantic Blvd and there were none there, if I can save you some gas.) They are fairly big pots and clearance priced at $4.50 each.

Thanks for the help!
Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:57PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Oh... and, so much for "rules"!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 10:10PM
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Those images are a bit large and don't download properly on my computer. But for that part of the images that did get through they're definitely Spathoglottis plicata.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 12:50AM
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They look like spath's to me too. :o)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 8:22AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Tropicbreeze, sorry for the glut of large photos. I forget that some people may still be on dial-up. Thank you for the confirmation - I appreciate it.

Katkin, thanks to you, too, for also confirming.

So it looks like I am now the proud owner of another plant that needs to be dragged inside. Darn Yay!

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 3:30PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)


Would think you'd be able to grow the usual spring bulbs ? Peony ,Iris daffodils hosta. Would think you'd have great luck with twice blooming Iris?? gary

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 6:06PM
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My purple ones are flowering now. I have purple and white in the same large pot. They take it in turns to flower, with sometimes a bit of an overlap. They must have arranged it between themselves without telling me, LOL.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 10:26PM
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Gary, the peony needs a lot longer, colder winter than we have up here in N FlA. There are some iris and hosta that will survive our summers, but the little 'paper whites' are the only daffodil type I've seen to bloom here each spring - actually, closer to Christmas.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 7:47AM
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Carol, I think in the long run you'll be happy with them, they are such a pretty flower and bloom all the time, except for the coldest of weather. I have all the colors, purple, white, yellow, a mix of yellow and purple and a mix of almost red. The only one that didn't do good was the small one called grapette, with a deep purple flower.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:00AM
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I planted 6 plants at my daughters home on Siesta Key, last year. They survived last winter and look healthy a year later, but have not bloomed again. Wonder if the area I planted is too shady.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 12:13AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Here is an update. Last fall, I planted my ground orchids (Spathoglottis plicata) in an above-ground pot (kind of a goblet-shaped, pedestal pot). It was left out in a bed in the middle of three leafless crape myrtle trees. There was no other protection except for a thin layer of pine bark fines as mulch.

On February 17-18, we had a hard freeze in my part of Jacksonville for about ten hours. Our low (for the winter) was 25.7 F.

The plant froze back to the roots but it appears the whole pot survived. All of the plants are sending up new green leaves! It may be a long time until it blooms... but it survived!


    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 1:44PM
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I'm not sure about central Florida, but they survive here in central Maryland. I received a small clump from my mother a few years back. They have really taken hold and slowly increased in size each year. I didn't know anything about them, just planted them in a spot that rarely gets full sun during the summer due to shade from a flowering plum tree. No special attention is given to them in the winter either. This past winter was fairly mild in comparison to most, but the previous winter was not as forgiving. By the way, my mother lives about 50 mi north east of my location and hers have also been doing well for years.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 10:02AM
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I had mine in an area where they were getting dappled sun most of the day and some direct sun only when the sun was at its most northerly set for the year and while they bloomed, they inevitably had awful looking foliage. I dug them up and plopped them in a mostly shaded bed and the foliage still looks gorgeous, and it's blazing hot here right now.

I'll update in the fall if they should bloom.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 2:56PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Joe crow
believe what you have are Bletila stirata ,hardy ground orchid . they not only tolerate cold it's required lol they tend to grow sporadicly at least for me in 10 with few or no flowers . If you look at the lip it's quite different than Spathiglottis but there are at least a gazillion types of orchids lol gary

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 10:50PM
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