Paphiopedilums, the lady's-slipper orchids, originate in the jungles of the Far East including Indonesia. They are semiterrestrial, growing in humus and other material on the forest floor, on cliffs in pockets of humus and occasionally in trees. They are easy to grow in the home, under lights or in the greenhouse.
How often you water will depend on whether your plant is potted in bark or a sphagnum moss mix and the amount of light and heat. Paphs need more frequent watering than some other orchids because they have no pseudobulbs to store water. Bark retains less water so will require more frequent watering - every five days is usually sufficient. If your plant is potted in moss, water when the top feels dry. Care should be taken not to overwater to avoid rotting the roots.
When you water an orchid you want to let the water run through the plant for a minute or so. Place the plant in the sink and use tepid water. Be sure to let the plant drain completely. Do not use salt-softened or distilled water.
Paphs belong to the "low" light group of orchids. Eastern light is ideal with good shading to prevent dehydration due to heat or sun is essential. You can tell by the leaves if the plant is getting too much light. A reddish tinge on the edges means you need to provide more shade for your plant. If your paph does not re-bloom, it may not be getting enough light.
Paphs generally enjoy the same temperatures that we do in the home; ideally, 18-22*C at night and 23-28º C during the day. Keep in mind that temperatures close to the window on a windowsill will be colder or hotter than your general house temperature. Paphs can be grown outside in mild climates. The plants can stand temperatures from 28-32º C. Protect plants during cold temperatures by avoiding moisture on leaves or in the crowns and in summer from burning from the sun.
Any balanced orchid fertilizer (30-10-10, 20-20-20, etc.) can be used to fertilize your orchid. Weakly (one fourth strength), weekly works well. Once a month use clear water to flush any accumulated salts from the potting mix.
Pots and culture
Use a shallow tray of pebbles filled with water to increase humidity around your plants. Be sure the pot does not sit in water as this will rot the roots.
The potting mixtures used by growers are too numerous to list in these notes. Some contain many and varied components while others, such as straight tan bark and pine bark, often produce good results. A mixture of five parts of fir bark (Pinus radiata), two parts of charcoal, and one half part of coarse shell grit, is used by many growers, and produces good results.
In warm temperate areas, if watering is carried out daily during the months, the following mixture to be most successful:
1 part coarse shell grit
1 part vermiculite
1 part charcoa4 parts granulated plastic foam (Isolite)
15 parts 6-12 mm local fir bark.
Give your plants room for air to circulate around them. Crowding of plants can lead to problems with insect infestations and fungus. A small fan will help provide good air circulation around your plants.
When the blooms are finished, cut the spike down to the level of the leaves. Continue watering and fertilizing and within a year a new growth will spike to begin the blooming cycle again!
When the plant has finished blooming is a good time to repot your orchid.
The epiphytes, lithophytes, and semi-terrestrials such as P. lowii, P. parishii, P. randsii, P. philippinense, and some of the Cochlopetalum section, require a much more 'open' growing medium, and larger grades of fir bark and charcoal should be used. Due to their natural manner of growth, they respond well to being suspended in a high and airy section of the glasshouse.
The purely terrestrial members of the genus require a higher humidity, and are often staged upon a moisture-retaining bench. A successful method used by many growers is to cover the bench-tops with a layer of fibrous cement sheeting upon which is a layer of coarse sand topped with a layer of coarse shell grit. If the sand is kept moist, the pots resting upon it will benefit greatly by the extra humidity produced.
Another good feature of this type of benching is that the moisture below the pot will induce the roots to grow downwards towards it. When overhead watering is used, the top level of the growing medium tends to retain more moisture than does the lower section of the pot, inducing the roots to grow upwards.
Phragmipediums are new world ladyslippers that grow from Mexico through the central and northern parts of South America. They can be found growing on rock outcroppings (Mexipedium xerophyticum), in forks of trees (caudatum), or volcanic clay (boisserianum and wallisii). Some plants such as longifolium, ecuadorense, pearcei, or klotzscheanum grow submerged underwater through periods of heavy rainfall.
Flasks - Flasks usually consist of about 25 plants.Some flasks do contain a lower number and check with us for details.
Compots - Compots are all seedlings in pots of 2 or more. Some seedlings may actually be quite large, even NBS.
Seedlings - Seedlings are single plants which are usually over 1 year away from blooming. Sizes are relative to the average adult size for the plant.
Mature Plants / In Bud - These are mature specimens which will either bloom in the next year (NBS/BS) or are listed as "IN BUD" when available.
Paphiopedilums, more commonly known as Slipper Orchids, are shade loving plants from areas throughout Asia where they usually grow amongst rocks, moss and leaf litter in damp but well drained positions. Blooms are long lasting and are available in a range of colours.
There are three main styles of flowers, popular amongst growers. These are the complex hybrids, which have large round flowers with broad segments and bloom during the winter. The second group is the maudiae types, which have attractive tessellated leaves and smaller flowers.
The third group is the multiflorals, sometimes with 4 or 5 flowers on a stem. They have long strap like green leaves and are the slowest to grow.
Paphiopedilium Hybrid selections:
- 2007 Paph.rothschidianum'Huei x Paph.micranthum 'red'
- 2699 Paph. Concobellatulum #2 x Paph. (White knight x ang-thong) 'Hsiao'
- 2100 Paph. Lawrenceanum 'Incharm' x Paph. Pacific shamrock
- 2485 Paph. Lippehill 'Incharm' x Paph. Liemianum'In charm'
- 41160 Paph. Vanguard (rothschildianum x moqueateanum'In charm' x Paph. (White knight x ang-thong) 'Hsiao'
- 41236 Paph. In-charm Lady (Lady Isabel'In-charm'x Paph. Moqueateanum 'In-charm'
- 44101 Paph. Maudiae LosOsos AM/AOS x Paph. Pulsar I.C. Coloratum
- 44127 Paph. (Raisin Pie x Mag Flame) x Paph. Pulsar 'Grande'
- 43101 Paph. Dena Nicol x Paph. malipoense
- 2642 Paph.Hawa chilum x Paph. Liemianum
- 2013 Paph.La.Honda x Paph. Silver Freuret
- 2535 Paph. Lady Isabel x Paph.Glaucophyllum var Moquetteanum
- 2269 Paph.Magic flame x Paph.Pulsar
- 41292 Paph. Glaucophyllum x Paph. Micranthum
- C15 Paph. Philippinense x Paph. Stonei
- 4319 Paph.Vanguard x Paph.leucochilum
- 1111 Paph.Mauven x Maudiae
When using the potting mixture, it is advisable to re-pot at two-yearly intervals, preferably in early spring after flowering has finished. Provided a plant has at least four or five growths, it may be separated into two, but it is not advisable to separate a plant into sections of less than two growths.
Due to the fine root hairs peculiar to this genus, care must be taken to treat them as gently as possible. Shake off any old compost remaining on them and cut off any dead or damaged roots.
The genetic influences in Paphiopedilum breeding reflect the huge number of species used by breeders. Depending upon sources some taxonomists consider there are in the region of 125 species within this genus. Of these probably 50 or so are used frequently in the production of seed pods.
There are some basic rules that apply to breeding Paphiopedilums. Species when self pollinated or crossed with similar plants produce either abundant or small amounts of seed following pollination. Some species are easy to germinate and produce a large number of seedlings.
Others produce abundant seed but germination can be slow or difficult resulting in few plants as an end product. A third possibility is poor seed formation and poor germination... this usually leads to plants being rare in cultivation or even impossible to raise. Occasionally only isolated seeds will germinate among a whole batch of plentifully produced seed.