This is one of the orchids commonly known
as Lady Slipper Orchids from Central and South
America (the others are Paphiopedilum from Asia,
Cypripedium from most continents, and the lesser
known Selenipedium). Most of the species are easy
to grow with the exception of caudatum and
boissieranum which are prone to rot, and besseae
which is a cool grower. All the hybrids thrive in
most growing conditions and thus are highly
recommended for beginners and window sill growers.
Light: Requirements are
similar to Paphiopedilum, but it may take a
slightly higher exposure to flower regularly. 1500
to 2500 foot candles is ideal.
Temperature: It prefers a
daytime temperature around 85F and a nighttime
temperature about 70F. However, it can survive in
more extreme conditions from 55F to 90F.
Water: If you tend to
overwater your orchids, this genus is the one for
you; it grows very well in a humid and damp
environment. You may grow these plants by sitting
the pots in water trays filled with one inch deep
water. Change the water at least once a week. In
our desert climate, water evaporates very fast and
thus the water level should be monitored
constantly. Though the species besseae doesn't like
the treatment, its hybrids do. Water quality is
very important because they are sensitive to salts.
Use R.O. (reverse osmosis), distilled, or bottled
water to promote its growth and flowering.
Fertilizer: Since there
is basically no nutrient in pure water, growers
should add a minute amount of fertilizer in every
watering. Quarter strength of the recommended
dosage is sufficient. Use a higher nitrogen
fertilizer (e.g. 30-10-10) for one week, then
switch to higher phosphorus fertilizer (e.g.
10-20-10) for another week. Twice a month, add
about 1/10 amount of tap water to provide enough
calcium for proper growth. The pH of the water
should be neutral or slightly acidic.
Potting: Porous media is
desirable to ensure fast draining and air
circulation at the roots. Fine fir bark is
generally used with the addition of small perlite,
lava rock, pumice, or even charcoal to prevent the
media from compacting. The ratio of fir bark to the
aerating media is about 4:1. Also, the media is
constantly wet and will decompose quickly.
Therefore, plants should be repotted approximately
every 6 months. This practice is very important for
root growth. Most people use plastic pots with good
results. However, do not overpot; use the smallest
container that will accommodate the roots.
orchid is no more susceptible to these problems
than other orchids. However, it is relatively free
of pests, which may be due to the very humid
condition it prefers. The more common leaf-tip die
back is usually caused by either insufficient water
or high salt content in the media. If this problem
appears, flush the plant thoroughly with pure water
and cut off the browning parts.
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