Group : Slippers
Covers these genera : Mexipedium (Mxdm.) , Paphiopedilum (Paph.) , Phragmipedium (Phrag.)

General information for this group :
Most members of this group require similar treatment. They are easy to grow and bloom when provided with the right environment. Collectively they are referred to as Tropical Ladyslippers. The initial discussion is for Paphiopedilums, or Paphs for short. For subgroups that have additional information, it will appear under individual headings near the bottom of the page. Alternatively, you can click on the genus name above to take you directly to that subgroup.


Subgroup : Paphiopedilum

Covers these genera : Paphiopedilum (Paph.)

Description :
A very diverse group that is divided into sections depending on type of blooming and plant characteristics. For our purposes, we will lump them into 3 culture groups as follows :

Calcium Lovers
Brachypetalum, Parvisepalum
Mottle-Leaf
Paphiopedilum, Barbata, Cochlopetalum
Strap-Leaf
Coryopedilum, Pardalopetalum
For young plants, treat them all like Mottle-Leaf types. The differences for mature plants of the other 2 types are under the headings below.

Light :
Mottle-Leaf types prefer moderate light. Adult plants of the other types prefer bright light to grow and bloom properly.

Temperature :
Mottle-leaf types prefer intermediate conditions. Adult plants of the other types benefit from a brief cool dry rest of 2 to 4 weeks in November/December timeframe to assist in triggering blooming.

Media :
A good quality bark mix is appropriate for all types. The larger the pot, the coarser the mix should be. Layering mixes is recommended for larger pots, as described on the "Repotting" page. Addition of dolomitic lime, and/or crushed eggshells is beneficial for the Calcium lovers.

Water :
Rainwater and dehumidifier water are the best choices. Good quality tap water is fine as well for most types. Never use softened water, bottled water or well-water. Well-water can be mixed with distilled water in equal parts to reduce the dissolved minerals, if you have no other options.

Fertilizing :
A properly balanced orchid fertilizer (3:1:3 or 4:1:4 ratio) can be used year-round during active growth. Apply at 1/4 to 1/2 strength, making sure to flush with plain water every fourth watering.

Blooming :
Most types usually last at least 6 weeks per bloom. The Calcium lovers and Mottle-Leaf types can bloom 2 times per year on mature plants. The Strap-Leaf types will typically only bloom once per year, but over several months. The section Cochlopetalum are sequential multiflorals, so they produce one flower at a time for up to 18 months in all.


Subgroup : Mexipedium

Covers these genera : Mexipedium (Mxdm.)

Description : There is a single species in this genus, which produces adorable little white flowers sequentially over a period of months. It's habitat is xerophytic, meaning desert-like.

Same as for Mottle-Leaf Paphiopedilums, except :

  • Use an extremely free-draining mix, as they will not tolerate wet feet !
  • Only fertilize at 1/4 strength, since they are very light feeders.
  • We find that pot depth should not exceed 4", as runners are produced use wider pots to accomodate the new growths.

  • Subgroup : Phragmipedium

    Covers these genera : Phragmipedium (Phrag.)

    Description : These are the South-American cousins of Paphs. They are all multiflorals, and fall into 2 culture groups based on petal-length :
    Short petal - ie. besseae, longifolium, fischeri, caricinum, pearcei, etc.
    Long petal - ie. warscewiczianum, caudatum, lindenii, wallisii, etc.

    Short petal types : Same as for Mottle-Leaf Paphiopedilums, except :

  • They like to be kept evenly moist at all times, but not sopping wet.
  • Apply fertilizer up to 3/4 strength during active growth.
  • Can be sat in a shallow basin of water during the active growth period, provided it is rainwater or distilled. Be sure to replace this water at least every two months or so, to avoid mineral build-ups.
  • Long petal types : Same as for Strap-Leaf Paphiopedilums, except :

  • NEVER stand these in water.
  • Apply fertilizer up to 1/2 strength during active growth.
  • Avoid misting as water that collects in the crowns encourages crown-rot.

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