Paphiopedilums are the Old World relatives of North American temperate-
zone lady’s-slipper orchids, the cypripediums. Perhaps no other
orchid excites the same dedication as do these semiterrestrials. And, happily,
“paphs” are one of the best orchids for home growing, requiring only
fairly bright light and normal home temperatures to provide some of the
orchid kingdom’s longest-lasting and most exotic blooms. There are classically
several general types of paphiopedilums requiring slightly different
cultural regimes, though all should do well with the general care instructions
given here. Slipper orchids can last eight to 10 weeks or more in bloom.
Sufficient light is important for
healthy growth and flower production.
PROVIDE Bright light, no direct sun.
In the home, an east, west or shaded
south window. In a greenhouse, about
30 percent full sun. Under lights, four
40 watt fluorescent tubes and two 40
watt incandescent bulbs directly over
plants. Foliage should be naturally
semierect, and firm, not drooping.
Dark green, limp foliage indicates
too little light.
Mature plants need a 15 to 20 F
difference between night and day.
PROVIDE Nights of 55 to 60 F; days of
70 to 85 F. Seedlings need temperatures
five to 10 degrees higher than
Mature plants should never dry out
between waterings. Seedlings need even
more constant attention to moisture.
Paphiopedilums need 60 to 70 percent.
In the home, place on trays of
moistened pebbles. In greenhouse, use
a humidifier if conditions are too dry.
Must be provided on a regular basis
because most potting media have little,
although paphiopedilums will grow
and flower with less fertilizer than will
most orchids. PROVIDE The exact fertilizer you use
will depend on the mix in which your
plant is growing. A good general rule
is to use a balanced (10-10-10, 12-12-
12 or similar ratio) fertilizer “weakly,
weekly.” That is, fertilize every week at
one quarter of the recommended
Should be done every one to two years
before mix breaks down too far. Can be
done almost any time of year, using a
well-drained but water-retentive mix.