How to grow and care for Lady Slippers Orchids Indoors

Indoor Orchid, Lady Slippers Orchid

Botanical name: Paphiopedilum spp
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Cypripedioideae

Lady Slippers Orchids also called Venus Slipper Orchids or Slipper Orchids are easy to grow Indoor Orchids with an unusual and curious form of flowers where the lower lip is pouch-like and looks like lady slippers. The flowers last for weeks. These orchids lack pseudobulbs and grow robust shoots, each with several leaves. The leaves can be short and rounded or long and narrow and typically have a mottled pattern. Each shoot only blooms once when it is fully grown, bearing a raceme between the the fleshy, succulent leaves. When the older shoots die, newer ones take over. The roots are thick and fleshy. Potted plants will form a tight lump of roots, that can be up to 3 ft long. Paphiopedilum is a genus of orchids native to Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, southern China, New Guinea and the Solomon and Bismarck Islands. They are naturally occurring among humus layers as terrestrials on the forest floors. The genus name Paphiopedilum was established by Ernst Hugo Heinrich Pfitzer in 1886; It is derived from Paphos (a city in Cyprus) and the Greek word pedilon meaning "slipper" in reference to the pouch-like flower lip. The genus name is abbreviated as paphs. in horticultural journals. Many hybrids and cultivars of Paphiopedilum orchids have been developed which are easier to grow under artificial conditions than their parent species. Flowers range in color from soft pastels to any combination of rich, earthy tones.

How to Grow Lady Slippers Orchids (Paphiopedilum spp)

Light

Lady Slippers Orchids grow best in bright to moderate light. A few feet away from an east-facing window is ideal. Keep them away from hot sunshine to avoid sun scorch on the leaves. Regularly turn the pot to ensure the plant gets adequate light on all sides. A Lady Slippers Orchid that is receiving the right amount of light has light-green leaves. Dark green leaves indicate that the orchid needs more light. Yellow leaves means the orchid is receiving too much light. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Water Lady Slippers Orchids thoroughly during the growing season and maintain the soil consistently moist. Reduce watering in the cold period. Drooping or wrinkly leaves indicate underwatering. Use tepid, chlorine-free water as orchids are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Avoid wetting the foliage as it can lead to fungal diseases. Lady Slippers orchids are less tolerant to dry soil due to the absence of pseudobulbs. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

The best temperatures for Lady Slippers Orchids are between 10-290C. Warmer days and cooler night temperatures with a difference of 10-150C are ideal. Cool nights are essential to trigger flowering. Ensure there is good air circulation as orchids cannot tolerate hot and stuffy conditions. Keep them away from draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Lady Slippers Orchids require a humid environment. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth. Do not mist the leaves as it can lead to fungal diseases.

Feeding

Feed Lady Slippers Orchids every 2 weeks during the growing season with a weak solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Do not feed an orchid that is in flower. In feeding it is better to err on the side of underfeeding than overfeeding. Overfeeding may result in loss of roots thus death of the orchid. It can also lead to vegetative growth instead of flower production. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Lady Slippers Orchids only when growth begins to suffer. When the orchid has outgrown its pot and the new growth reaches out over the edge of the pot or when the soil has broken down completely. Basically repotting Lady Slippers Orchids every 2 years should be adequate. Repot only when new growth begins, shortly after blooming is over. Use a pot with proper drainage holes or slits; the roots need good air circulation. The pot should be large enough to accomodate the roots. Use loose, free-draining bark soil. When repotting, shake off excess soil and trim off any dried and shrivelled roots.

Pruning

Pruning Lady Slippers Orchids is easy. Remove dead and diseased leaves by cutting them at the base with sharp scissors or a knife. When flowering is over, cut the flower stalk 1 in. above the 3rd node from the bottom.

How to Propagate Lady Slippers Orchids (Paphiopedilum spp)

Lady Slippers Orchids can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season once flowering is over by division or from keikis.

Propagating Lady Slippers Orchids by division
Gently split the rhizome into sections. Leave at least 3 shoots on each section. Seperate the roots attached to each division from the mother root ball. Remove the old potting soil attached to the roots. Place each section in the center of the pot. Bury the roots in the soil while ensuring that the it is at the same level as it was. The best pot should be large enough to accomodate the roots. Ensure the pot has enough drainage holes and slits to prevent root-rot. Place the set up in a shaded place until they have established their own roots. Do not water the newly propagated plants for about 7 days to allow time for the healing of injured roots. Thereafter, water the new Lady Slippers Orchids lightly to enhance root development. Stake each newly repotted plant.

Propagating Lady Slippers Orchids from keikis
Lady Slippers Orchids produce "baby" orchids called "keiki" which normally appear on an old or new flower spike. Keikis are identical copies of the parent plant. Keiki growth can be triggered by prolonged exposure to high temperature during the final phase of spike growth. The keiki can be detached from the mother when about one year old when it has developed 2-3 leaves and 1-3 in. long roots. Pot up the keiki in fresh potting medium. Direct the roots downwards and provide support for the keiki. Place the set up in a shaded place. Mist the keiki regularly to maintain a humid enviroment.

Common Problems in Growing Lady Slippers Orchids (Paphiopedilum spp)

  • Brown soft spots on the leaves
  • Brown soft spots on Lady Slippers Orchid leaves are an indication of a fungal disease; remove the affected leaves immediately to prevent further spread.

  • Brown hard and dry spots on leaves
  • Exposure of Lady Slippers Orchids to direct sunshine will result in scorch marks which are brown hard and dry spots on the leaves. Move the orchid to a shadier spot or protect it from direct sunshine.

  • Mould on leaves
  • This is an indication of Powdery Mildew Disease. Misting the leaves in Lady Slippers Orchids may lead to mildew growth if the water does not evaporate quickly. Ensure good air circulation and stop misting.

  • Limpy and droopy leaves
  • Limpy and droopy leaves in Lady Slippers Orchid are caused by underwatering. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Water Lady Slippers Orchid thoroughly, maintain the soil consistently moist and never allow the soil to dry out.

  • Dark-green leaves
  • Dark green leaves in Lady Slippers Orchid indicate that the plant is not getting enough light. Move the orchid to a brighter spot. The leaves of a Lady Slippers Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light-green.

  • Yellowish leaves
  • Yellowish leaves in Lady Slippers Orchid indicate that the plant is getting too much light. Move the orchid to a shadier spot. The leaves of a Lady Slippers Orchid that is receiving the correct light should be light-green.

  • Leaf tips turn black and die
  • The cause of black leaf tips in Lady Slippers Orchid is the presence of chemicals like chlorine and flourides in water. Use chlorine-free water only.

  • No blooms
  • Too little light for Lady Slippers Orchids will result in no blooms. Move the plant to a brighter spot. Overfeeding Lady Slippers Orchids can result in vegetative growth instead of flowers. Feed the orchid every two weeks with a weak solution of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Lady Slippers Orchids are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects, Slugs and Snails. Isolate the affected plant and treat appropriately

Toxicity

Lady Slippers Orchids (Paphiopedilum spp) are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow indoors.

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