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PHRAGMIPEDIUM

 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.

 

Pests/Diseases: This 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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