Paphiopedilums are great for beginners, as they are one of the easiest orchids to grow, and they only require bright light and normal home temperatures. They’re also great for growing in confined or small spaces. They are a relative of the North American temperate-zone Lady’s Slipper orchid, the Cypripediums. Taking care of them does not require any high maintenance providing you follow the guidelines.
They do not like stale potting medium, so it’s a good idea to change it once a year, but preferably every six months. The secret to producing beautiful blooms is to look after the root system as they don’t have bulbs or stems to store moisture or nutrients.
Watering Your Plant
If your plant is new, wait between 10-12 days before watering it, and then once a week from then on, depending on the climate. Before you move it into a decorative container, make sure that all the residual water has been drained off first. You need to keep the roots moist and damp but not soggy. During hot and humid weather, it’s advisable to give them a light mist first thing in the morning. Too much water will cause the flowers to deteriorate. By following these simple rules, your blooms should flower for up to 3 months.
Using Plant Food To Watch Your Flowers Blossom
To fertilize Paphiopedilums, be sure to use one with a high nitrogen content. It’s recommended that you fertilize approximately once a month, taking care not to over-fertilize as you will burn your plant. To avoid this happening you can dilute the fertilizer and use it maybe twice a month. Occasionally it’s a good idea to drench the plant with water to flush the fertilizer from the pot.
Temperature Ranges That Will Produce Colorful Blooms
This particular species grows in either a warm or cool temperature. To thrive in a warm climate, the daytime temperatures need to be around 75-85 degrees F and not below 60 degrees F during the night. These plants from the warmer climates produce beautiful mottled leaves. The solid-green leafed plants growing in higher altitudes, grow best in daytime temperatures around 70-80 degrees F, and nighttime no lower than 50-60 degrees F.
They require humidity, so if you have them growing in a greenhouse and the conditions are dry, it’s a great idea to use a humidifier.
Lighting Up Your House for Your Orchids
Paphiopedilums do not like to be moved from spot to spot, so once you have found a great place for it, leave it alone so that it can acclimatize to its’ new position. Leaving it in the one spot will give you a much healthier plant. Place them in a bright sunny position but not direct sunlight eg. a window, but also making sure that they avoid the midday sun, as this could burn the leaves. Not nearly as much light is required so make certain that you provide only adequate amounts unlike Cattleyas, Cymbidiums or Vandas, which require much more lighting for spectacular blossoms.
The leaves should be a solid green color, so if the leaves start to look pale or yellowish, it could be getting too much light. If you’re growing them in a greenhouse under lights, then using four 40 watt fluorescent tubes and two 40 watt incandescent bulbs directly overhead, can produce enough light for them. If you notice the leaves are a dark green and hanging limply, then you don’t have enough light.
Re-Potting Tips You Can Use
To increase the life of your plant, it’s advisable to re-pot at a minimum, every two to three years with fresh potting medium. Using a fine-grade bark or simple mix, which is well draining, is the recommendation. Do not divide your plant at this stage, as the larger clumps will produce more new growth and more flowers. Placing your plant in a smaller pot to accommodate the root system, will also encourage new growth.
Lady’s Slipper orchids are the only terrestrial ones commonly grown indoors. They can grow up to 2 feet in height, and they will reward you with many blooms which will last for weeks if they are cared for properly.