Paphiopedilums or “paphs” are very easy to grow. They remain compact in their growth habit and have attractive foliage with long-lasting flowers in a wide range of colors. Although classed as terrestrials, they do not really grow in the ground. Rather, they grow in a layer of decaying vegetation found on the forest floor. It is helpful to know where an orchid grows in nature to more easily duplicate these conditions in our home or greenhouse.
PAPHIOPEDILUM ORCHID CARE
Paphiopedilum orchids prefer the habitat of the forest floor. Paphiopedilums are definitely shade-loving plants, and this enables them to be grown well in the home. A shaded east or west window will work year-round.
Paphiopedilum orchids like to be evenly moist at all times. During the warmer months, water every three to four days and, in cooler weather, once a week or so. The biggest problem that can arise from underwatering is a salt buildup in the potting mix. As with all other container plants, always water thoroughly to allow water to run out of the bottom of the pot. Never allow your plants to stand in water. Roots require air as well as water to remain healthy. Humidity around 50-70% is ideal.
Paphiopedilum orchids like the humidity around 50-60% relative humidity. Group plants together or place them on a tray filled with gravel and partially filled with water to increase humidity levels. If the humidity in your home is below 50%, both you and your plants will benefit from a rise in levels.
Paphiopedilum orchids have a very wide range of temperature requirements. For best growth, we suggest 60 degrees at night and 80 during the day. If you are comfortable your plants will be, too. Air circulation helps to prevent fungal and bacterial problems by ensuring the foliage is dry by nightfall.
Paphiopedilum orchids are very light feeders. A light feeding every two weeks should be enough. Because Paphiopedilums are very salt-sensitive, it is important never to feed a dry plant. Of course, your Paphiopedilum orchids should never be allowed to dry out completely. Foliar feeding with a diluted mixture of fertilizer in a spray bottle works very well.
POTTING PAPHIOPEDILUM ORCHIDS
Paphiopedilum orchids require a fine but water-retentive mix such as a cymbidium mix. This would consist of small fir bark mixed with perlite and charcoal. Smaller or younger plants should be repotted annually. Mature, larger plants can be left for two years. As the plants remain fairly compact, pot them with enough room for two years of growth.
OTHER ORCHID SUGGESTIONS
JEWEL ORCHID – The Jewel orchid is known to have the most beautiful foliage of the orchid Family. The leaves are a blackish, red-green velvet with coppery red veins and wine-red undersides. The waxy white flowers have a yellow anther that twists to one side while the anchor-shaped lip twists opposite. The flowers bloom from fall to winter.
MILTONIA ORCHIDS – The Miltonia orchid is often called the pansy orchid because its flowers resemble pansies in shape and color patterns. The Miltonia orchid blooms beautifully and will often bloom twice a year. When the temperature is warm, their blooms could last up to 6 weeks.