Cold Hardy orchids for temperate gardens…including Bletilla, Calanthe and Cypreipedium.
You may be surprised to learn that there are hardy orchids for the outdoor landscape. The orchid family is huge, and while most of its members are tropical, there are some cold hardy orchids that make perfect garden specimens. Plant Delights Nursery carries a nice selection of cold hardy orchids for temperate gardeners. Although not quite as showy as the tropical house plant varieties, hardy orchids have the same alluring floral shape as the orchids you may have in your home.
Read More About Hardy Orchids
There are easy-to-grow hardy orchids and there are difficult ones. If you are a novice hardy orchid grower, we recommend that you start with Bletilla. It has nice medium-sized flowers and is no more difficult to grow than a fern. Once you have gained some confidence and experience, try growing Calanthe or Spiranthes. These are not difficult to grow, but require a little bit more care. Once you are a hardy orchid expert, you can move on the queen of the temperate orchids, Cypripedium. This is by far the most beautiful of the hardy orchids, but it is also the hardest to grow.
PDN occasionally offers other cold hardy orchids for sale like Aplectrum, Calopogon, Cremastra, Pleione, Pogonia, Tipularia and others, so if you are an orchid collector, bookmark this page and check back often.
When you are ready to buy hardy orchids for your garden, check out our online list of hardy orchids for sale below.
Since 1988, Plant Delights Nursery has been the choice of serious gardeners and plant collectors looking for the best and rarest perennial plants. We are pleased to have received the Perennial Plant Association Retail Award in 2011, the American Horticulture Society Commercial Award in 2002, and to have been selected as one of the Best Mail Order Plant Nurseries - Garden Design Magazine 2010. Welcome to our family of plant lovers!
One of the real treasures in the genus bletilla is the Chinese Bletilla ochracea. Although not as winter hardy as its cousin Bletilla striata, it more than makes up for this with its stunning jewel-like flowers. The 30" wispy flower stalks emerge from below-ground pseudobulbs and top the iris-like pleated leaves from June through August. Each flower stalk is topped with 3-5 small, creamy yellow flowers, each highlighted with a purple and yellow speckled lip. We have found that Bletilla ochracea prefers more sun to grow well as compared to B. striata which has decent shade tolerance...moist rich soil and morning sun or high filtered light shade are best. Bletilla ochracea 'Chinese Butterfly' is a particularly vigorous, precocious flowering seed strain introduced by Linda Guy of Carolina Nursery. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Bletilla striata is a hardy and very easy-to-grow terrestrial orchid with upright, heavily textured, iris-like, 18" long x 1" wide green leaves that forms a slowly spreading clump. In early spring, stalks to 2' tall of very small cattleya-like flowers are held atop the foliage. The rhizomes spread slowly and eventually form a nice mass. Bletilla striata grows best in moist to damp soils. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Bletilla striata 'Albostriata' is one of the rarer white-edged variegated forms of the commonly grown ground orchid. Two opposite iris-like pleated leaves emerge from each pseudobulb in early spring (April for us). As the leaves emerge, the narrow flower spike arises through the center and opens a few inches above the foliage with rich purple flowers. All Bletilla striata cultivars are amazingly drought tolerant, but grow faster in evenly moist soils. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
There are a number of white-edged leaf forms of the hardy orchid Bletilla striata, some without valid names. Our form, Bletilla 'First Kiss', has the same deeply-veined, long green leaves that emerge from a central stem in late March. In late April in NC, the 2' tall stems are topped with small white orchid-like flowers with a flush of purple on the lip. This vigorous grower will quickly make a colony when grown in rich, moist soil. In the South, a bit of mid-day shade is helpful, while full sun farther north produces a better floral show. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This unique variegated form of the hardy ground orchid comes from Japan's famed Gotemba Nursery. The typically long green pleated leaves are streaked with gold and, like the species, the clumps are topped in May and June with 2' tall floral spikes of terminal dark purple flowers...an incredible color combination. Bletilla striata 'Gotemba Stripes' fares well in both dry (once established) and moist soils. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Bletilla striata 'Kuchibeni' is a hard to find but easy-to-grow cultivar from Japan, distinguished by its two-tone flowers. The upper part of the flower is white, while the lip is a contrasting purple. The foliage and growth habit are the same as in the species. I have seen this occasionally incorrectly offered as Bletilla striata 'Alba', which should be solid white. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This unique selection of Bletilla striata has pale lavender flowers with a darker lip which appears bluish to the eye. Knowing most catalog writers are color-blind and that Photoshop® has allowed some catalog writers to now match the plants to their descriptions, I was skeptical about the true flower color. Finally, my plants bloomed and indeed, the color is a real bluish-lavender. As with all bletillas, moist rich woodland soil is best, although this is one tough perennial hardy orchid that will survive almost anything. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Bletilla striata 'Soryu' is a lovely Japanese selection of the hardy ground orchid, topped in late April/early-May with 2' tall flower stalks, ending in a cluster of 1" mauvy-lavender flowers that have a distinctive bluish cast. The contrasting white throat and dark purple lip make a scrumptious garden specimen. Slightly moist soils are best, although bletillas are very easy to grow in a wide range of less than perfect conditions. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This bizarre selection of the Japanese ground orchid, Bletilla striata, makes a nice deciduous clump of pleated green leaves, topped in late April (NC) with narrow flower stalks. Each 2' stalk is adorned with dark purple flowers that each have three lips instead of the normal one...sort of like you would look after a boxing match with Mike Tyson. Bletilla striata 'Tri-Lips' is truly one of the strangest mutations I've ever seen on a hardy perennial. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Bletilla x yokohama, a seed hybrid group first produced by N. Suzuki in 1956, is a hybrid between the Chinese native Bletilla striata and the Taiwanese native Bletilla formosana. We offered this hardy orchid in 2011 as a cultivar, but then discovered others had made named unique selections of this same cross, so we gave our clonally propagated offering a new cultivar name. Bletilla x yokohama 'Sweet Lips' produces foliage similar to Bletilla striata, topped in spring with 2' stalks that end in a cluster of 5-6 nearly white flowers highlighted with a darker purple lip. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Available 6-27-2013 Calanthe discolor is a Japanese woodland orchid that emerges from the pseudobulb with 2-3 heavily pleated, 6" long x 2" wide leaves. As the bulb offsets, the clumps can get quite thick. The foliage, which is evergreen to 15 degrees F, is topped in mid-spring with 10" stalks of tiny mahogany flowers with pure white lower lips...a very easy-to-grow addition to that special spot in the woodland garden. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
(syn: Calanthe striata) This hard-to-find Japanese native terrestrial orchid has been a superb performer and one of our favorite calanthes. The evergreen foliage (except below 10 degrees F) composes a vigorous 6" tall x 15" wide clump of deeply pleated leaves. In spring, the bloom stalks rise from the ground to reach 15". Along the scape are dozens of small pansy-like flowers of bright yellow...quite stunning. Calanthes prefer well-drained, slightly moist woodland conditions and are proven to be quite easy to grow. After severe winters, they may be very late to emerge. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Cypripedium 'Anna' is a 2012 Werner Frosch hybrid of the American native Cypripedium parviflorum var. parviflorum and the Asian Cypripedium macranthos var. hotei-atsumorianum. The vigorous-growing Cypripedium 'Anna' produces 1' tall stalks topped with white pouches that are heavily-veined violet...resembling a bloodshot eye. The pouches are backed by ruby violet twisted sepals. Our offerings are flowering-sized plants. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Cypripedium 'Annegret' is a 2010 Werner Frosch hybrid of Cypripedium parviflorum and the Russian Cypripedium shanxiense. The vigorous but small 10" tall hybrid produces small cinnamon-red pouches, backed by the twisted dark violet sepals of Cypripedium parviflorum. Our offerings are all flowering-sized plants. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
(aka: Cypripedium 'Kentucky Pink') Cypripedium 'Cleo Pinkepank' is a 1998 Heinz Pinkepank cross of the North American native Cypripedium kentuckiense and the Japanese Cypripedium macranthos var. hotei-atsumorianum. The 1' tall plant produces a terminal flower composed of a lovely pouch...violet red on top and white below, backed by violet veined sepals...scrumptious, but I'd buy this for the name. Our offerings are all flowering-sized plants. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Cypripedium 'Dietrich' is a 2003 Werner Frosch hybrid of the European Cypripedium calceolus x Cypripedium kentuckiense. The flowers on the vigorous 2' tall stalks are quite large due to the Cypripedium kentuckiense background; although in color they resemble the smaller Cypripedium 'Rascal' with a creamy-yellow pouch and dark purple sepals. Cypripedium 'Dietrich' typically flowers in late May or early June. Our offerings are all flowering-sized plants. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Cypripedium 'Emil' is a 1993 Werner Frosch hybrid of the European Cypripedium calceolus and the American Cypripedium parviflorum var. parviflorum. The result is a vigorous grower, topped in late May with 18" stalks of stunning flowers, each composed of a bright yellow pouch complemented by dark burgundy, twisted sepals. A well-grown clump of Cypripedium 'Emil' can produce up to 24 flowers in only 3 years...fastest in cool summer climates. Our offerings are all flowering-sized plants. Cypripedium 'Emil' is named after Emil Lueckel, former president of the German Orchid Society. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Cypripedium fasciolatum is a hardy orchid species that hails from the Sichuan, Hubei, and Guizhou provinces of China where it grows at elevations between 6,000' and 7,500'. The large white pouches with chartreuse sepals are nearly as large as the American Cypripedium kentuckiense. Our offerings of Cypripedium fasciolatum are flowering-sized plants that were nursery grown from seed. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Cypripedium 'Gabriela' is a 2003 Werner Frosch hybrid that combines two of the largest flowering hardy ladyslipper orchid species together...the US native Cypripedium kentuckiense and the Himalayan Cypripedium fasciolatum. The 18" tall plants are topped in April (NC) with large egg-like pouches that can either be cream or yellow (each seedling is slightly different). The pouches are backed with chartreuse sepals that are heavily veined purple...very special! Our offerings are all flowering-sized plants. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Cypripedium 'Gisela' is a 1992 Werner Frosch hybrid of the Chinese Cypripedium macranthos and the American Cypripedium parviflorum v. parviflorum. The robust growing Cypripedium 'Gisela' makes a patch of 15" tall stems, each topped in mid-May with a creamy yellow pouch with burgundy streaks, backed by three large sepals of dark burgundy with a flush of yellow. These are flowering-sized plants. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)