Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lady's Slipper Orchid

One of the easiest orchids to grow at home is the Lady's Slipper Orchid, Paphiopedilum sp.

The unmistaken physical characteristic of this tropical orchid is the slipper or moccasin shape of the lip (largest of the three flower petals). These exotic flowers do not resemble any others of the vast orchid clan.

It is not to be confused with the native wildflower Yellow Lady's Slipper Orchid, Cypripedium calceolus, which grows in wetlands, woodlands and swampy areas throughout Indiana.

Lady's Slipper is a terrestrial orchid with handsome, compact foliage. This orchid thrives in bright, indirect light with day temperatures in the 70s and night readings in the 60s.

An east window would be ideal, but a south or west window is a good location if a sheer curtain is used to soften the light. If the leaves begin to turn a pale green color, the plant is getting too much light.

Keep the soil mix moist, but not wet. Water once or twice a week, depending on the season. Less water is better than too much. Humidity levels of 50 percent or more are ideal. Misting is not suggested as a method of raising the humidity. This may cause the terminal growth to rot.

Repot the plants annually in the spring following bloom. Fertilize every month, using a balanced fertilizer at half strength.

During the summer, this orchid can vacation on the patio or deck in the shade. Just remember, the vacation is over when night temperatures go below 50 degrees.


Steve Peralta

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