Paphiopedilum Care: The Basics
The Paphiopedilum (paff-ee-oh-PED-ih-lum) orchid gets its nickname ‘Lady’s Slipper Orchid’ from the unique slipper-shaped blooms it produces. Generally, the blooming season for Paphiopedilum orchids starts in autumn and goes through spring. The blooms are long-lasting and typically stay in bloom for about 6-8 weeks. The flowers come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors.
Paphiopedilum orchids are divided into two main groups. The first group is mottled-leaf and the second is strap-leaf multiflorals. Mottled-leaf Paphiopedilums have beautiful spotted foliage that is sometimes compared to a marble-like pattern. Strap-leaf Paphiopedilums have a solid green foliage and have the ability to produce many flowers all at once.
A Paphiopedilum orchid should be watered regularly. They do not have any pseudobulbs for water storage and for this reason the potting medium needs to be kept damp. You will want to make sure that you don’t overwater and that you are not making the potting medium soggy. You will want to water in the morning using tepid water. You should make sure to never let a Paphiopedilum’s roots fully dry out between each time you water. Watering frequency – as covered in this article about watering orchids – can be determined by a few different things. The watering schedule for a Paphiopedilum can greatly depend on the type of pot the orchid is planted in, the temperature, and also the time of year, although once or twice a week is a good guideline. Every couple days you can mist the roots in order to keep them moist. As a rule of thumb, you will want to water more frequently during the warmer months and less frequently in the cooler months.
Most Paphiopedilums thrive with low light conditions, however, strap-leaf multiflorals are medium light orchids. A great inside location to place your Paphiopedilum is on an eastern facing windowsill. If you have a shaded western facing windowsill this will also work. As covered in this article about orchids care and light, you will always want to make sure that your Paphiopedilum is in indirect sunlight exposure so that the leaves do not become damaged and sunburned.
As discussed in this orchid plant care article on temperature, the temperature requirements for Paphiopedilums are daytime temperatures somewhere between 65°F to 75°F (18.3°C to 23.9°C) and night temperatures between 55°F to 60°F (12.8°C to 15.6°C). Higher daytime temperatures encourage faster growth, although if you plan to keep your orchid in higher temperatures you will have to remember to maintain higher humidity conditions, more air movement, as well as more frequent watering so that your Paphiopedilum doesn’t dry out completely.
As covered in this “humidity” article on how to care for orchids, Paphiopedilums thrive in humid conditions. The ideal amount of humidity for a Paphiopedilum orchid is between 40-50%, however, if a Paphiopedilum orchid is kept in excess moist conditions then disease and rot can set in which will cause damage to the plant. If you need to increase the humidity for your orchid, you can add a humidity tray or humidifier. It is also important to remember that the more humid you keep the orchids environment, the more air movement your orchid will need to help prevent any disease.
When Paphiopedilum orchids are in full growth they should be fertilized regularly. It is important to never fertilize an orchid that is completely dry because this can cause major damage to the roots. If you are growing your Paphiopedilum in bark medium you should choose an orchid fertilizer that is higher in nitrogen (30-10-10) because when the bark breaks down, the process uses up a lot of the nitrogen. You should flush your orchid with water once a month in order to remove excess salts and fertilizer which can build-up over time and cause damage.
Paphiopedilum orchids should be repotted in a fine-grade potting mix every two years or once the potting medium remains soggy and no longer drains properly. Before repotting your orchid, you should always cut away the damaged roots with a sterile cutting instrument. The best type of pot to use for a Paphiopedilum is a plastic pot since they retain moisture better than a clay pot. If your Paphiopedilum orchid has at least four growths, it can be divided by pulling the fans of the leaves apart and potting them separately.
And that just about covers the basics! :-)
Next Steps: Where do you go from here?
A couple options:
#1 – More Free Paphiopedilum Tips!
At a minimum, I strongly recommending signing up for our orchid tips newsletter (it’s free!). That’ll give you some additional (more detailed) step-by-step tips you can start using with your Paphiopedilums right away…
#2 – Get Access to ALL My Articles on Paphiopedilums…
If you’d like to learn everything you need to know about Paphiopedilum orchid care (and caring for ALL types of orchids) we also have something called the Orchids Made Easy Green Thumb Club.
The Green Thumb Club includes a number of different benefits – including weekly lessons on all different orchid care topics delivered to you in a special, password-protected members area. You also get the opportunity to get YOUR actual questions answered in my weekly “Ask The Orchid Guy” column, which you can check out here.
The Green Thumb Club costs less than a meal at McDonald’s – and ALSO includes all sorts of ADDITIONAL benefits, including exclusive discounts at orchid suppliers from 20-40% off as well access to our “orchid diagnosis tool” which helps you identify what problem might be plaguing your plant.
Because the club is backed by a full 100% money-back guarantee for a full 30 days, if after checking it out you decide that it’s not for you or that you didn’t get value you out of what you learned – no problem! Simply send us an email to let me know, and you’ll receive a fast and courteous refund. Put it this way: If you’re not happy, I’m not happy!
(By the way, this link here will give you access to 50% off the cost of membership. A little “gift” for reading this article all the way to the end :-))
Ryan “The Orchid Guy” :-)
IMPORTANT: To learn everything you need to know about caring for your orchids, if you haven’t already I strongly recommend signing up for the “Orchid Care Tips & Secrets Newsletter” my wife and I publish by clicking here.
It’s completely free – and the best part? You can even choose the type of information you’d like to receive (reblooming tips, basics of orchid care, etc.) Join over 20,000 fellow orchid enthusiasts young and old and sign up for our free orchid care newsletter today! :-)
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