Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium cordigerum)

Plant of the month - May 2017

2nd May 2017

Difficulty

Medium

Conditions

Moist

Partial sun

This beautiful alpine is usually found in Northern India, Nepal, Pakistan and China. It thrives in damp and shady woodlands. It is easy to spot due to its white pouch and green untwisted petals. Part of what makes these plants so attractive is that each one is unique. The amount of spotting varies and they can grow to different heights (over half a meter in some habitats). They are usually solitary flowered but 'twins' do occur

Getting started

If you would like to grow your own, it is best to start by cultivating in a pot. There are two options open to you, both have led to their fair share of success and failure. The first is to fill the pot using a mixture of loam with some leaf-mold. Decomposing beech and oak leaves can work particularly well.

Alternatively, you can try creating a layer of pumice, lava and expanded clay pellets. This creates a bed that the plant can be set on. This is then topped off with a thin layer of organic material that just covers the growing point.

Planting out

Out in the garden, Cypripediums appreciate heavy to medium soil that is crumbly or ‘open’. This is especially true of hybrids that are more likely to be available at your local garden centre. If you think that your soil might become too compacted, you can add some Perlite or clay balls to prevent this. To get the best results, treat your Cypropediums to some well rotted leaf-mold. Where possible, avoid using organic fertiliser.

Tip: Do not let the growth points on underground stems (rhizome) get too hot or too dry during the growing season. In late Autumn and early Winter, do not let them get too wet.


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