What type of slipper orchid is easiest to grow at home?
The 60 species of Paphiopedilum (slipper orchids) are mostly terrestrial plants named for their interesting pouch-shaped lip. These orchids grow in pockets of organic matter on the tropical forest floor, on cliffs and on trees below the leaf canopy. This natural setting of loose, fast-draining, growing medium and gentle, filtered, light is also what they need in the home, though the variation in habitat of origin implies variation in ideal home conditions.
Both species and hybrids are widely available to home growers and while relatively easy to grow, some plants are more demanding than others. It is a diverse genus divided into multiple sub-genera and then numerous sections and sub-sections within them. Paphiopedilum are often grouped to describe their care. The mottled leaf types are considered easiest for home growers because their ideal care conditions are closest to a normal home environment.
Mottled leaf slipper orchids - Paphiopedilum in the warm-growing, mottled leaf group, including the Maudiae Hybrids, bear one or two flowers at a time, once a year. They are mostly terrestrial orchids that grow in loose organic matter on the forest floor.
You can find details on caring for a Paphiopedilum (slipper) orchid in our Paphiopedlilum Culture Guide. It includes information on growing other slipper orchids including:
- Green leaf - plants in the cooler-growing, green-leaf group mostly originate at higher elevations and bear one to two flowers at a time. Flowering once a year, usually in winter, this group is considered more difficult to grow successfully and includes the colorful Complex Hybrids.
- Multifloral group - a strap-leaf, multifloral group with green leaves likes warmth and more light than the two other groups. Plants bear multiple flowers simultaneously or sequentially from a stem.
- There are other Paphiopedilum that fall outside of the care routines of the groups covered in our guide, including those that grow in limestone rock crevices.
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service
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