A hidden surprise in many gardens this time of year are the delicate blooms of terrestrial orchids.  One species that is a consistent bloomer along the Gulf Coast is the Chinese ground orchid, Bletilla striata.  Although foliage and flowers may be sensitive to cold weather, the preferred growing conditions under tree canopies often offer this plant protection during many winters.  Flower spikes emerge from the underground structures and hold numerous bright pink flowers about 12-15 inches high. Strap-like foliage is bright green and makes an effective groundcover for the remainder of the season.  It is important that the ground orchids have rich soil with some moisture.  Local sandy soils may need amendments with composted materials.  Each season, the clump of ground orchids will continue to expand so you can divide them in late summer for a new planting or to share with friends.Ground Orchid