Paphiopedilum Culture

Paphiopedilum, (paff-ee-oh-PED-i-lum) commonly known as "Lady Slippers", are among the easiest of all orchids to grow and flower. They reward you with distinctively beautiful, long lasting blooms. Most grow naturally on decaying vegetation in the crevices of limestone rocks, in swamps and in shady places near a constant water source. While most Paphs. are hardy and will adapt to conditions given, the are certain fundamental requirements that should be met.

TEMPERATURE - Certain species and their progeny have heavily mottled leaves, and are considered warm growing. A minimum night temperature of 60 F should be provided. Those plants with plain green leaves generally are considered cool growing and, in Southern California will comfortably withstand night temperatures in the low 40's. Daytime temperatures are relatively unimportant provided the plants are not under moisture stress. These rules are flexible since most plants are highly hybridized and are mixtures of warm and cool growing parents.

WATERING AND FERTILIZING - The most important consideration in growing these plants is their watering, for they must be kept moist at all times, never allowing them to dry out completely. Drainage is important, and a loose mix that allows free release of excess water is essential. Fertilizing can be done at every second or third watering, using any of the basic balanced fertilizers. Usually these are applied at one half the recommended strength.

POTTING MIXES - The mix must be open, loose and will drained but moisture retentive. Seedling grade fir bark, sponge rock, sand, peat moss and fine charcoal are all used quite successfully. Your own growing conditions will dictate the varying proportions. Most mixes will last for a two year period before breakdown. Paphs. may be repotted at any time of the year, even in bloom. Check the mix frequently for breakdown.

LIGHT AND VENTILATION - Paphs. seem to grow best when shaded rather heavily, but light requirements may vary from plant to plant depending on the characteristics taken from the species parents. In general, 40% to 50% natural light will be satisfactory. Air movement is not a important factor, except the air around the plant must not become stagnant.

DISEASES AND PESTS - One of the nicest things about growing Paphs. is that they are practically disease and pest free. An occasional mealy bug infestation may be encountered, but this can be controlled with an alcohol swab as required or a judicious spraying with any of the standard oil-free insecticides.

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