the lady's-slipper orchids, originate in the jungles of the Far East including
LIGHT is easier to provide for Paphiopedilums than many other types of orchids. They require shady conditions, as in the home in an east or west window, or near a shaded south window. In the greenhouse, shade must be provided. Give about 1,000 to 1,500 foot-candles in general for mottled leaf types or 1,500 to 3,000 for green leaf types. In the home, fluorescent lighting is excellent; suspend two or four tubes 4 to 8 inches above the leaves.
TEMPERATURES for Paphiopedilums cover a considerable range. Paphiopedilums are traditionally separated into two groups: the warm-growing mottled-leaved types and the cool-growing green-leaved types. A third, increasingly popular group is the warmer-growing strap-leaved multi-floral Paphiopedilums. Warm-growing types should be kept at '60 to 65 F during the night, and 75 to 85 F or more during the day. Cool-growing types should be kept at 50 to 60 F during the night and 75 to 80 F during the day. However, many growers raise all plants in the same temperature range with excellent results. The plants can stand night temperatures in the 40s if necessary (as when grown outside in mild climates), as well as temperatures to 95 F. Care must be taken to protect the plants from rot when cold (keep humidity low, and avoid moisture on leaves or in the crowns of the plants), and also to protect from burning when hot (shade more heavily and increase humidity and air movement around the plants).
WATER must be available at the roots constantly, because all plants in this genus have no pseudobulbs. All of these plants need a moist medium - never soggy, but never dry. Water two to three times a week in our dry winters. Use high quality water as plants have low tolerance to salts .
HUMIDITY for Paphiopedilums should be moderate, between 40 and 50 percent, which can be maintained in the home by setting the plants on humidity trays. In a greenhouse, average humidity is sufficient. Using an evaporative cooling system in warm climates can increase the humidity. Air movement is essential, especially when humidity is high.
FERTILIZE on a regular schedule, but care must be taken to avoid burning of the fleshy, hairy roots. Nitrate based fertilizers are recommended. In warm weather, use one-quarter teaspoon per gal every other watering. It's important to flush with clear water monthly to leach excess fertilizer, which can burn roots. In cool weather, fertilizer applications once a month are sufficient.
P0TTING should be done about every year to a maximum of two years, or as the medium decomposes. Seedlings and smaller plants are often repotted annually. Mixes vary tremendously; most are fine- or medium-grade fir bark or coconut, with varying additives, such as perlite (sponge rock), coarse sand and/or humus. Moisture retention with excellent drainage is needed. Large plants can be divided by pulling or cutting the fans of the leaves apart, into clumps of three to five growths. Smaller divisions will grow, but may not flower. Spread the roots over a small amount of medium in the bottom of the pot and fill with medium, so that the junction of roots and stem is buried 1/2 inch deep in the center of the pot. Do not over pot; an average plant should have a 4- to 6-inch pot.
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