This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Garden Gems” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and that add sparkle to drought-tolerant landscapes.
Kate hybrid hardy orchid
Bletilla X yokohama ‘Kate’
Size: Up to 40 inches tall.
Bloom season: In spring and summer, clusters of medium lavender orchid flowers.
Exposure: Morning sun or partial shade.
Pruning needs: Remove spent leaves and flower stalks in winter.
Water needs: Medium; once established, water deeply once a week.
Snapshot: You don’t need a tropical jungle or a greenhouse to grow these hardy orchids. At home in dappled shade, this perennial forms clumps of pleated green leaves. In spring, it shoots out 40-inch spikes loaded with sprays of little purple orchids. The blooms of this hybrid feature a dark purple stripe on the back and a purple lip surrounding a yellow throat. The foliage dies back in winter, but this orchid will be fine in the ground, surviving temperatures down to the 20s.
For more on “Garden Gems,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.