The following intended to give you as much cultivation
information as we presently have about the cypripediums and to communicate what
we have found to work well for us. Our intent is to leave with you an
understanding of these orchids, such that your growing experience will be a
Your plants have arrived as
bare root and they are dormant. You should plan to plant
immediately either by planting directly in a garden bed or
planting in a pot. When the maple sugar season starts it is
time to plant. We recommend planting in a garden bed so that the plant may grow
for many years without being disturbed. If you choose in pot,
they should be well mulched. If necessary you may keep the
plant in the refrigerator at a temperature between 36F and 40F in moss or other
media but do not freeze.
Individual Growing Conditions
easiest to grow native yellow lip with twisted sepals and petals that vary from
yellow to brown with a yellow lip. Sometimes with multiple flowers per stem.
I grow mine in forest compost with 40-60% shade.
Planting near the edge of the woods
or near a building with mature trees can usually satisfy this
requirement. The soil in which the plant grows should be kept
slightly acidic in organic humus and very loose and
Reginae, Showy ladyslipper. A large flower with
flat white sepals and petals with a pink to red lip.
Often with multiple flowers per stem. Grows naturally in fenns. Keep well
watered but not standing in water requires
2 to 3 hours of direct early morning sun or late afternoon sun and be in shade
dappled with sun during the rest of the day. Proper planting
near the edge of the woods or near a building with mature trees can usually
satisfy this requirement. The soil
in which the plant grows should be kept a neutral pH (i.e. pH 6.8 - 7.5), very
high in organic humus and very loose and aerated. The mix can
be kept neutral indefinitely by adding powdered lime to it if
needed. Powdered lime should be used only when checking pH in
the late fall. Showy's will grow better in dry areas
by growing them in a bog or fenn and mulching them in
Acaule the Cyp most people think of a very nice
pink flower on a stem less plant. Needs
acidic (4-6) low fertility soil. Can be grown in a bog
but it not its preferred location. Does not bloom every year unless very happy. Needs mid afternoon shade. But too much shade will stop
flowering. Not for the beginner
Candidum a rare native white lips greenish to
brown sepals rarely multiple per stem; prefers full sun.
Although slow to develop can form beautiful close clumps. The soil in which the plant grows
should be kept slightly acidic and very high in organic humus.
Kentuckiense Our largest flower long yellow and brown
twisted side with flat overhanging top petal and a light yellow
Flowers up to 4 x 6 in. Grows
in sandy soil about 50% shade.
Still learning here.
Small plants with yellow
lip and dark twisted sepals. Needs a
well-drained mix. With 50%
shade. I am still playing with this one for good growing.
For all cyps. media in which plant is growing should be kept evenly moist
yet never soaking wet in the spring . Media must be well
drained with never any standing water. Try to avoid watering
with hard or chlorinated water. If you
must, collect rainwater or buy distilled.
After the plant has gone dormant in the fall do the
following: mulch with new layer (a maximum of 2 inches) of shredded leaves
and/or rotten wood shredded to a fine mulch and
Dormancy normally occurs around mid-September and is characterized by plant and
stem turning yellow, then brown and toppling over.
When growing in a garden
fertilizer is not necessary. Just a good top dressing of
organic mulch as we have already recommended will do the trick in providing the
necessary plant nutrients through organic means. I use earth worm casings to
supplement poor growing areas.
you purchase seedlings 1-2 yr old plants
Know how to grow cyp
The seedlings, generally with shoots only one or two
centimeters long and roots three to five centimeters, arrive sealed in plastic
containers or, outside theU.S., in flasks. The seedlings in
bags should simply be placed in a refrigerator until spring either in the bag or
potted in pots or they can be planted in protected beds. This
is especially good for 3 year seedlings.
Seedlings in flasks must be removed from the flasks,
rinsed in water and picked free of the nutrient agar, sealed in plastic freezer
bags with a little water or dampened sphagnum in the bottom, then refrigerated
until spring. The refrigeration is essential to enable the plantlets to
produce leaves when the temperature rises.
After refrigeration, or for plants received in the spring, great
care must be taken to carefully remove the plant from the sphagnum moss without
damaging the eye. This
caution is essential as a damaged eye may mean the
death of the plant. But despite these difficulties I have found sphagnum to have
more advantages than disadvantages.
The seedlings may either be
planted in an inorganic material such as coir/perlite mixture and may be fed
with very dilute fertilizer solutions during the growing season or
planted in a soil mix. For most of the North American
varieties a humus mix seems to work well
The Asian and Montanum Cyps dislike wetness around the stems. We
have been using turface; some use granite dust
around the top to eliminate this problem. Presently I
am using a coir mixture for the main part of my mix for the Asian growers The details of the amount of
water, the intensity of lighting, and the temperature requirements vary
considerably from one species to another. Cribb's book on Cyps will give you a guideline
here. I am still experimenting with some of the Asian species
but have good experience with the American. An instruction sheet for many of the
American species is enclosed. I will try to answer any
question you may have. I hope to expand the sheet to include
more species in the future.
Because our seedlings are small,
they require great vigilance by the grower. Our young plants are a nice snack
for many a pest! Some growers have built small hardware cloth cages around their
plants or put plastic berry boxes over the seedlings for protection from
predators. The moisture content of the soil is critical. If the soil is too wet,
the plants die from lack of oxygen, but because the roots are so short, the
seedlings may die quickly if the upper few centimeters of the soil become dry.
The grower must check plants daily or even more often during periods of
unusually hot, dry, or wet weather. Cypripedium seedlings can be grown
indoors under artificial lights. As for most orchids, growth is slow.
Although precocious individuals of some species occasionally flower after one or
two seasons of growth, normally three, four, or more years are required to reach
flowering size. Growers of tropical orchids are used to such delay.
Seedlings still may be the best way for an experienced
gardener to get plants. Most of the unusual Cyps still demand
hefty prices as mature plants. A $45.00 investment today can
be a $90.00 plant in just 3 to 4 years: a hefty return on your
investment! Also, many of the Asian types are presently only
available as seedlings.