Lady Slipper Orchid

July 29, 2016

Growing Lady Slipper Orchids

Lady Slipper Orchids (Paphiopedilum) can sometimes be intimidating, but with proper watering, light, soil, temperature, and fertilizer they are quite easy to grow, and they show they put on is certainly worth it!  Now for the details:


  • WATER: Since Lady Slipper orchids do not have pseudobulbs, they need regular watering.   Watering every 5-7 days is typical, but potting mix and humidity can alter that.  It is important to make sure the plant does not completely dry out between waterings, or stay soggy (which can lead to root rot).  One tip can be to add decomposed leaf litter to the potting mix which helps hold moisture.


  • LIGHT: Medium light is best – 800 to 1,000 foot –candles throughout the year is optimal. Avoid direct sun, except in the early morning. At home, move plants away from the window if in direct sun, or grow them behind a sheer curtain.


  • SOIL: Lady Slipper Orchids are terrestrial and need a medium that drains well but retains some moisture. Finely chopped (1/8 to ¼ inch) is best.  Wet the bark thoroughly before potting.


  • TEMPERATURE: Minimum night temperature is around 50 F, and day temperatures should range between 70-80 F (the typical temperature inside a home). Humidity should be moderate – between 40-50 percent during the day.


  • FERTILIZER: Use a 20-20-20 fertilizer diluted to ¼ strength, applied every 1-2 weeks during active growth.  Apply the diluted fertilizers with new growth first emerges and then regularly until flowering stops.

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Fun Fact:  When many Americans think of Lady Slipper orchids they often think of the native Cypripedium (also called “Hardy Lady Slipper”) that grows wild in the U.S., but the Lady Slipper is a type of orchid that grows naturally on six continents!

FUN FACT:  Although most commonly known orchids are epiphytes (meaning they derive their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain and sometimes debris around them), Lady Slipper orchids are sympodial terrestrial orchids, which means they grow in the ground and have multiple growing points.

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