Lady slipper orchid is a type of orchid that grows wild and comes in many sizes and shapes. It is native to Southeastern Asia and has many colors combinations. With its distinctive pouched lip, lady slipper orchid will bring natural beauty to your home.
A. Facts and Characteristics
Facts that make lady slippers unique are their pouched shape which is used as an insect trap. They are not eating them, though—they use insects that fall in and climb back out to transfer their pollen to somewhere nearby.
Lady slippers have multiple growing points; they grow horizontally, and on the ground. They are a sympodial terrestrial orchid and have short, spongy, and thick roots.
They also have thin and mottled leaves, so it looks stunning even though they are not flowering yet.
Lady slippers can survive at low temperature, as low as 40 degrees and in high temperature as high as 90 degrees. Since they have short root systems, it is okay to over water the plants as you need to water them twice a week. They also lack pseudobulbs.
Here are the flowers list of lady slippers:
1. Pink lady slipper (Cypripediumacaule)
It exhibits a little sweet-smelling scent, has deep pink flowers that 3 inches long, and blooms from late June into July.
2. Yellow lady slipper (Cypripediumcalceolus)
It can be found along the elevated or edges areas of bogs or in rich woodlands and blooms in early spring.
3. Showy lady’s slipper (Cypripedium reginae)
It grows 1 to 2 feet tall in wet meadows, swamps, bogs, and damp woodlands. The white flower has a splash color of pink and blooms in late spring or early summer.
4. White lady slipper (Cypripedium candidum)
It is a small lady slipper with 6 to 12 inches in height and considered endangered.
B. Growing Lady Slipper Orchids
Growing lady slipper orchid in your house is possible. Though it is not recommended to collect and transplant lady slipper orchid from the wild, you may do it on your property or from someone you know but with permission.
You must include surrounding soil and roots as much as possible when transplanting the orchid. It is hard to transplant wild lady slipper orchids successfully, so it is better to get it from commercial growers.
Lady slippers will grow nicely if they are planted in the sites that similar to their natural environments. Therefore, try to simulate shady woodlands in your garden.
They need moist conditions and well-aerated soil. Lady slippers are the happiest when they grow in medium light or shade, so don’t put them in a dry place or full sun. Give them morning sun as it is the best for them.
You must repot lady slippers orchid every year after blooming. Put them in a fine-grain bark mixture so it will have good drainage.
During the winter, you should fertilize them on a regular schedule with a 20-20-20 fertilizer, and during the warmer months, give them a high nitrogen fertilizer.
Don’t forget to stake the bloom during the growth to prevent the stem from bending due to the weight of the bulb. Since lady slipper can have several flowers at times, before cutting it off, you must wait the blooming spike turns brown.
Once the flower is bloomed, a cooler temperature can help prolong it, so put them in around 65 degrees. It could last for at least two months.,
C. How to Care Lady Slipper Orchids
Lady slipper orchid care is a little bit tricky. Lady slipper orchids don’t like direct sun but need a bright light. So, you can put them in the east window, or a south or west window with a sheer curtain.
Too much light will make the leaves forming a reddish tinge on the edges, but insufficient light will make the orchid may not bloom. If you found a perfect place for the orchid—that they’re growing happily, don’t move them.
For the watering, you must do it once to twice a week. It can cause crown rot if you water at the center of the plant. So, make sure to dry out a little in between watering — the medium need to stay moist, but not soggy.
Never put the plant directly in the water. Instead, fill a shallow dish with pebbles and a little bit of water, then set the pot on top.
Don’t use soil from your garden or traditional potting soil but use special mixes for an orchid that made of sphagnum moss, bark, and other loose fillers.
Put them in a quick-draining pot and ensure the pot has good drainage with holes. You can give weak fertilizer to the orchids, like once or twice a month. It is better not to overfeed them.
D. Lady Slipper Orchid Propagation
It takes diligence to propagate lady slippers especially home gardeners. Lady slipper orchid propagation should be done in the spring or fall. You may expect flowers to bloom in the second year, even though in some cases it takes more than five years.
It is quite difficult to germinate Cypripedium seeds—it needs a long period of stratification or cold temperature for the seed dormancy to break. Most of the time, to properly germinate, it requires the help of certain soil fungus.
Though it requires patience and can be time-consuming, propagate the seeds through division is the best option. You can also use rhizomes to propagate lady slippers.
First, dig up a clump and carefully pull apart or cut the rhizome. Then, replant it in the ground.
Before planting it outside, grow the divisions or seedling indoors for one to two seasons to increase their chances of survival.
Place them in the partially shaded windowsill and use a hummus type of soil that retains moisture and drains well. Keep the room temperature between 21-26°C.
Lady slipper orchid might be a challenging plant to grow, but once you bring it home and start to grow it, you will be falling in love with it. Make sure you learn how to propagate it properly. Let’s hope it will bloom soon!