The Slipper Orchids

The slipper orchids have distinguishing characteristics and hence it is unlikely that you will mistake them for any other orchid, except for a solitary species. The lip or labllum of the flowers of all the members of the sub-family Cypripedioideae is transformed into a pouch or a puffed up organ having the shape of a bag.

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If you are able to visualize a delicate foot lying inside the pouch, you will be able to figure out why these charming orchids are commonly known as the "lady's slippers". The pouch of the slipper orchids has a very practical use. In fact, they attract insects, trap them inside the pouch and subsequently compel the insect to leave the flower loaded with pollens.

The dorsal or the uppermost sepal is inflated as well as eye-catching. The two other sepals are fused and are known as synsepalum. The fused petals are found at the base of the flower, while the synsepalum is usually concealed by the pouch. The flowers of this orchid have three petals.

While two petals expand laterally, the third petal is modified in the form of a pouch. Usually, the flowers of slipper orchids are waxy and have a thick texture. They last for a long time on the plant as well as when cut. The leaves have a strap shape and they may either have a plain green color or be tessellated (mottled).

The plant appears from the rhizome and has a fan-shaped growth. Although the orchids flower only once, they survive for several years. The older plants generally have several growths and also bear numerous flowers. The flower stalks of slipper orchids arise from the middle of the new growths.

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Generally, each flower stalk bears a single blossom, but some species of this orchid produce more flowers. The sub-family Cypripedioideae comprises four genera, which include Phragmipedium, Paphiopedilum, Cypripedium and Selenipedium.

Among all these four genera, Selenipedium is not of much horticultural interest, as the plants of this genus are large and they usually produce insignificant flowers. Orchid growers who like plants that grow well in cold winter climates as well as wildflower aficionados would prefer to grow Cypripediums.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to grow as well as propagate this genus of orchid. On the other hand, orchid fanciers have a special liking for Paphiopedilum. It is interesting to note that there was a time when all slipper orchids were known as Cypripedium.

Gradually, a diminishing group of orchid fanciers continued to call Paphiopedilums as Cypripedium or even cyps (pronounced sips) in its short form. The modern day orchid lovers have termed the orchids in this genus as paphs.

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All the Old World orchids are native to a vast region extending from the Himalayas to Taiwan and again from New Guinea to the Solomon Islands. Nearly all the slipper orchids that are cultivated these days are members of this genus.

On the other hand, the tropical New World slipper orchids belonging to Phragmipedium are not cultivated extensively. However, people's interest in these orchids is growing gradually. Nearly all slipper orchids flourish when the night time temperatures vary from 60°F to 65°F (16°C to 18°C).

This temperature range is considered to be intermediate for Paphiopedilums. On the other hand, slipper orchids that are warm growing have a preference for night time temperatures ranging between 65°F and 75°F (18°C and 21°C).

However, there are a number of cool growing orchids that have a preference for night time temperature ranging from 55°F to 60°F (13°C to 16°C), while the daytime temperature needs to be warmer around 20°F (11°C). In case the temperature during the day is more than 90°F (32°C), you need to provide the plants with some shade and also increase the humidity level.

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It is important to bear in mind that all the orchids mentioned above have a preference for shade, but the degree of shade preferred by each differ. Nearly all these orchids flourish in light equivalent to roughly 1,000 foot-candles.

The heat and light preferences of these orchids, coupled with their low size make them excellent plants for growing indoors. You may grow them under artificial lights or at windows. Brief descriptions of the four genera in the sub-family Cypripedioideae along with their preferences for light, temperature and growing conditions are discussed in brief below.

Paphiopedilum

Paphiopedilum orchids grow in a wide range of altitudes ranging from the sea level (occasionally even in places that are within the reach of the salt sprays of the sea) to elevated, cool and moist mountainous regions. Some of these orchids may even be found growing on trees.

However, most of them are terrestrial and grow well in leaf mold and moss on rocks or on the banks where seepage provides them with the necessary moisture. These orchids do not have pseudo bulbs whose main role is to store food and moisture for the plants.

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Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the roots of Paphiopedilum orchids never become dry completely. In addition, these plants require air flow in the region of their roots. This means that you should always use a porous planting mix for these orchids.

Several commercial planting mixes are available in the market that are suitable for growing Paphiopedilum orchids, but you may prepare an excellent planting mix by blending medium- or fine-grade fir bark with peat and perlite. Using hard water containing calcium carbonate will not prove to be detrimental for the plants.

However, water containing sodium and any other salt may kill the plants. It is advisable that you should never water the plants during the later part of the day because if water stand in the fans of the plants throughout the night may promote decay.

It is also essential to repot slipper orchids once in two to three years because the potting mix decomposes and eventually does not remain porous any more after a period. The ideal time to undertake repotting activities is just after the flowering season.

While repotting the orchid, you need to get rid of the old potting mix and put back a new moistened mix. Pack the mix cautiously, but ensure that the potting mix is firm in the region of the roots of the plant. After replacing the potting mix, initially water the plants lightly till new growth emerges.

Subsequently, water the plants on a regular basis. In case your orchids are very big, you should divide them at the time of repotting. You may cut the orchids or break them into divisions each containing no less than three fans.

As far as feeding the orchids after repotting is concerned, provide them with any liquid fertilizer with half-strength solution once a week during spring as well as summer. During the winter months, the plants need to be fed less - once in every two weeks.

It is worth mentioning here that around 70 species of orchids comprise the genus Paphiopedilum. From many of these species, named selections have been made. In addition, there are several hundred primary hybrids (crosses between two species), while the number of complex hybrids (crosses made with three or more orchid species in their lineage) is countless.

While purchasing slipper orchids you need to always bear in mind that these plants are sold either as seedlings or divisions. Divisions made from mature plants will bear precise resemblance to their parent, while the seedlings will bear some resemblance to the parent. The light and temperature preferences of few Paphiopedilum orchid species as well as hybrids are discussed briefly below.

Paphiopedilum argus

The leaves of Paphiopedilum argus orchid are tessellated and the flowering stalks measure anything about between 12 inches and 18 inches in length. Each flowering stem produces a single blossom and the individual flowers of this orchid are about 5 inches wide.

The upper side (dorsal) is white with green stripes and purple spots. The white petals blushed with pink and having green veins are wavy at their edges. They are generously sprayed with blackish purple spots. The pouch (the inflated third petal of the flower) has green and brown hues. This orchid is in bloom during the period between mid-winter and spring.

Paphiopedilum armeniacum

The rhizome of Paphiopedilum armeniacum orchid has a rambling nature and it produced clumps of boldly mottled leaves, which measure about 4 inches in length and are well spaced. The flowering stalk grows up to anything between 9 inches and 10 inches in height and each stalk bears only a single light to vivid yellow hued flower.

The individual flowers measure about 4 inches wide and comprises a small dorsal sepal as well as a large lip with pale red markings near its mouth. This orchid grows best in places where the temperatures range between intermediate to warm.

Ideally you should grow this orchid in a basket made of board or wire mesh as it will help in accommodating the sprawling rhizome. Paphiopedlium armeniacum plants are in bloom either during spring or in summer.

Paphiopedilum barbatum

Paphiopedilum barbatum orchid produces several clumps of tessellated leaves and its flowering stalks grow up to 12 inches to 14 inches in height. Each flower stalk bears one or two flowers, which measure about 4 inches wide each.

The dorsal is large and contains green and purple stripes. The maroon petals with blackish purple warts are somewhat drooping. The pouch has a purple hue. This orchid is usually in bloom at the onset of winter and occasionally reblooms in spring.

Paphiopedilum bellatulum

Paphiopedilum bellatulum is a diminutive plant and produces boldly mottled leaves. The flower stalk of this orchid is long and it bears the almost round blossoms above the foliage. The individual flowers of this orchid measure anything between 1 ½ inches and 3 inches wide.

The white flowers are finely sprayed with maroon spots as well as blotches. The pouch of paphiopedilum bellatulum is also white hued, but relatively small. The upper sepals as well as the petals are almost round. This orchid is an intermediate to warm grower and has a preference night temperatures and brightness when grown in the higher ranges.

At the same time, this orchid requires first-rate drainage. If you allow the plants a rest in mid-winter and provide them with a little less water and keep them in places having somewhat low temperatures, it will help persuade them to offer a satisfactory bloom during the fall. In fact, Paphiopedilum concolor, P. niveum and P. godefroyae are similar in appearance and their requirements are also the same.

Paphiopedilum callosum

Paphiopedilum callosum orchid plants bear resemblance to P. barbatum. However, the pinkish tones of its petals as well as the pouch are more intense. This orchid is in bloom at the beginning of spring and it continues to bear flowers all through autumn.

Paphiopedilum charlesworthii

The flowers of Paphiopedilum charlesworthii, each measuring about 4 inches wide, rise higher than the clump of green foliage. The flower stalks of this orchid are about 6 inches tall. The pink hued dorsal sepal of this orchid is very large having deeper pink veins and a slender white rim. The smaller petals as well as the pouch have a brownish hue flushed with pink. The plants are in bloom during autumn.

Paphiopedilum delenatii

Paphiopedilum delenatii plants produce deep green leaves, each measuring about 4 inches long. The leaves have a paler green hue on the underside with a tinge of purple. The clumps of this orchid are well spaced along a sprawling rhizome. The flower stalk grows up to a height of 9 inches and usually each stalk bears a solitary flower.

However, occasionally a flower stalk may also bear two flowers. The color of the flowers varies from light pink to white, while the pouch is pink hued. The individual flower measures about 4 inches across. This orchid species is in bloom during spring.

Paphiopedilum druryi

The rhizome of Paphiopedilum druryi orchid is long and it produces spread out clumps of pale green leaves, each measuring anything between 6 inches and 18 inches in length. The flower stalk grows up to a height of about 10 inches and each stalk bears a solitary flower.

The individual flowers measure about 4 inches wide and its color varies from yellow to white. Each petal as well as the dorsal sepal has strong purple stripes. This is an intermediate growing orchid which is in bloom towards the end of winter and beginning of spring. The plants have a preference for strong, indirect light and warm daytime temperature with cool night time temperature.

Paphiopedilum fairrieanum

The plants of Paphiopedilum fairrieanum produces green leaves which at occasionally tessellated. The flower stalk of this orchid grows up to a height of anything between 5 inches and 19 inches and each bears a solitary flower. The individual flower measures about 4 inches tall and is slightly slender.

The dorsal sepal is tall and white with frilled edges. The white flowers are heavily marked with purple and green stripes. The petals are also white and two-third length of each flower droops and suddenly turns sharply upward.

This gives the flowers of this orchid a fanciful feature. The color of the flowers may vary from white and green to white and deep purple. This orchid is an intermediate grower and it is in bloom towards the end of fall and beginning of winter.

Paphiopedilum haynaldianum

Paphiopedilum haynaldianum produces large yellowish green leaves that encircle the flower stems, which may grow up to a height of about 20 inches. Each flower stalk carries anything between two and four flowers, each of which measures 5 inches wide.

The dorsal sepal of the flowers are slender at their base and in their lower half, they have white and purple stripes with some sprinkling of maroon spots. The petals are slender and widely spreading.

They are yellowish green and closely marked with maroon spots close to their base. The pouch of this orchid is large and has a greenish tan hue having deep green veins. This orchid is in bloom towards the end of winter and spring.

Paphiopedilum henryanum

To some extent, the leaves of Paphiopedilum henryanum measure 6 inches in length and have a plain green color with a tint of purple on their underside. The flower stems grows up to a height of 6 inches and it carries a solitary flower.

The individual flowers of this orchid measure about 3 inches wide and its yellow hued dorsal has solid markings of deep purple. The petals and lip of the flowers are dark purple. This orchid species is in bloom from winter to beginning of spring.

Paphiopedilum insigne

Paphiopedilum insigne is a widely grown orchid and the plants of this species are variable. The plants produce plain green leaves, while the flower stalk is about 5 inches long. Each flower stalk of this orchid species bears a solitary flower that measures about 5 inches wide.

The color of the dorsal sepal varies from yellowish green to light green having white edges as well as somewhat elevated spots that are colored brown or purple. The petals are slender and their color varies from yellowish green to yellowish brown.

The flowers of Paphiopedilum insigne are highly glossy, while the plants are hardy and capable of enduring temperatures close to 32°F (0°C). However, they are unable to tolerate prolonged warmth. This orchid species is in bloom in fall and at the beginning of winter.

Paphiopedilum javanicum

The leaves of Paphiopedilum javanicum are tessellated in moderation, while the flower stalks grow up to a height of anything between 6 inches and 14 inches and each stalk carries a solitary flower, each measuring about 4 inches wide.

The dorsal sepal is slender and has a greenish white hue with green stripes, while the tip is sharp white. The green petals with purple tips are narrow and spreading. This orchid has an irregular flowering period, but usually it bears flowers in summer.

Paphiopedilum malipoense

The leaves of Paphiopedilum malipoense are solidly mottled and measure anything between 4 inches and 8 inches long. The flower stalk of this orchid grows up to a height of 10 inches and each carries a solitary flower measuring about 3 inches wide.

The dorsal sepal as well as the petals of Paphiopedilum malipoense has green markings and slight purple lines. The pouch is large and baggy and, to some extent, translucent. At the same time they have pink stains on the outside, while inside they are dotted with maroon.

This orchid is a warm grower and it bears flowers during the fall and in winter. Ideally, you should grow this orchid in a basked made of slats or wire mesh so that the running rhizomes can be accommodated well.

Paphiopedilum micranthum

Like in the case of Paphiopedilum armerniacum, the foliage clumps of Paphiopedilum micranthum are also spaced along drifting rhizome. The dark green leaves of this orchid measure anything between 2 inches and 6 inches in length and are mottled with paler green.

The flower stalk grows up to a height of anything between 3 inches and 8 inches and each stalk bears a solitary flower. The individual flowers measure about 3 inches in diameter and have a short, almost round dorsal and petals.

The dorsal and petals have greenish yellow marking along with pink lines. The pink lip of the flower is very large and puffy, measuring about 3 inches in length. This orchid is an intermediate grower, but can also withstand warm conditions.

Paphiopedilum spiceranum

Paphiopedilum spiceranum produces clusters of green hued leaves which give rise to arching flower stalks. Each flower stalk grows up to a height of 10 inches and bears a solitary flower measuring about 3 inches wide.

The white dorsal sepal of this orchid is narrow at its base and subsequently extends upwards and folds back to imitate a small calla (Zantedeschia). A vertical streak of maroon hue adorns the front.

The petals have a yellowish green hue permeated with brown, while the margins close to the center of the flower are deeply wavy. This orchid is an intermediate as well as a cool grower and it flowers in autumn and beginning of winter.

Paphiopedilum sukhakulii

Paphiopedilum sukhakulii produces clusters of tessellated leaves and flower stems that grow up to a height of 10 inches. Each flower stalk carries a solitary flower measuring about 5 inches across. The white dorsal sepal of this orchid has fine stripes of green.

The green petals spread horizontally and are solidly spotted with blackish purple. This orchid is in bloom in autumn and occasionally it bears flowers in spring also. It is worth mentioning here that Paphiopedilum sukhakulii has been parent to numerous wonderful hybrids.

Paphiopedilum superbiens

The leaves of Paphiopedilum superbiens are about 6 inches to 10 inches long and they are solidly mottled. The flower stalk of this orchid grows up to a height of anything between 6 inches and 10 inches and each stalk bears a solitary flower that measures about 5 inches wide.

The white dorsal sepal is sharply pointed with flushed pink. Moreover, they have heavy streaks of purple and green veins. The petals are long and slender, angled downwards. The color of the petals is green at the base and it changes to purple near the tips.

The dark maroon lip is glossy and measures 2 ½ inches in length. This orchid is an intermediate grower and it is in bloom during the summer.

Paphiopedilum venustum

Paphiopedilum venustum produces clumps of leaves that are heavily tessellated, while the flower stalk of this orchid grows up to a height of anything between 5 inches and 10 inches. Each flower stalk carries a solitary flower measuring 5 inches wide.

The white sepals are low and wide. They have heavy stripes of dark green. The color of the petals is greenish white and has green veins. The outer third of the petals have a purple or coppery hue. The lip or labllum of the flower has a yellow or coppery hue with strong green veins. This orchid is in bloom during winter.

Multiflowering paphiopedilums

The flower stalks of a number of paphiopedilum orchid species carry multiple flowers - ranging from two (which is rare) to 20 flowers. Typically, these flowers open in a sequence - while one flower fades and falls, another unfurls. However, some species bear all their flowers at the same time.

Though multiple flowering paphiopedilum orchids are attractive, they are quite difficult to grow. In fact, it is recommended that beginners should first gather enough experience in growing orchids before they attempt to grow multiple flowering paphiopedilums.

Paphiopedilum glanduliferum (P. praestans)

Paphiopedilum glanduliferum (also known as P. praestans) produce dark green leaves measuring anything between 14 inches and 16 inches in length. The flowering stem of this orchid grows up to a height of 12 inches to 20 inches and each stalk bears two to five flowers.

The dorsal is tall and slender, measuring 2 inches in length and about 1 inch in width. The dorsal sepals are yellow and have distinct purple stripes. The lower sepals are also alike. The yellow petals of this multiple flowering paphiopedilum orchid are narrow and slant downwards at 45° angle.

The veins of the petals have maroon and yellow hues and they are decorated at the edge. The yellow lip marked with maroon measures about 2 inches in length or maybe more. This orchid is in bloom during the summer.

Paphiopedilum glaucophyllum

The green or slightly mottled leaves of Paphiopedilum glaucophyllum are anything between 12 inches and 20 inches in length. The flower stalk of this multiple flowering orchid may grow up to a height of 2 feet and each may bear as many as 20 flowers, which bloom one at a time.

It is rare to find two flowers of this orchid blooming on the same stalk at the same time. The color of the flowers varies from wide-ranging cream to green, while the dorsal sepal is not only heavily spotted, but also has purple stripes. Each pink petal of this orchid measures 1 ½ inches to 2 inches long and they are mottled with maroon spots.

The petals also have clumps of fine short hairs along their edges. The pink lip or pouch of the flowers of this multiflowering paphiopedilum is about 1 ½ inches in length and has fine stripes of maroon.

A variety of this species, called P. g moquettianum, bears somewhat larger flowers and its dorsal sepal is speckled instead of being veined. Paphiopedilum glaucophyllum is a warm grower and it is in bloom in summer and may bear flowers at other times too.

Paphiopedilum philippinense

Paphiopedilum philippinense produces clusters of dark green leaves, each measuring anything between 6 inches and 20 inches in length. The flowering stem of this orchid grows up to a height of 20 inches and each stem carries two to five flowers.

The dorsal sepal and the compound lower sepals both measure 2 inches in length and they are white hued striped with maroon. The petals are slender and have a yellow hue at their base, but the color fades to maroon towards the top.

The flowers are slender, slightly drooping, and twisted and measure about 5 inches in length. This orchid species is in bloom towards the end of winter or in spring.

Paphiopedilum rothschildianum

Paphiopedilum rothschildianum is an impressive orchid species that reaches its flowering age very slowly following division and, it appears that this species is loath to transplanting. This orchid produces dark green leaves that can grow up to a length of 2 feet.

The flower stalk grows to a height of 18 inches and bears two to five blossoms, whose individual petals are up to 10 inches length. The color of the dorsal sepal varies from cream to green or yellow and it measures about 2 ½ inches in length.

The yellow petals are long and slender with maroon stripes. The pouch or lip is tawny or yellowish and it is permeated with dark red. This orchid blooms towards the end of spring or at the onset of summer.

Paphiopedilum sanderianum

The dark green, strap-shaped leaves of Paphiopedilum sanderianum can grow up to a length of anything between 12 inches and 18 inches. The flower stalk of this orchid is 18 inches tall and each bears two to five flowers. The yellow dorsal sepal measures 2 ½ inches in length and had deep maroon stripes.

The petals are slender and twisting and can be anything between 12 inches and 36 inches in length. At their base, the petals are yellow with maroon spots and the color turns to deep maroon towards their tip. This orchid species is very rare and, hence, it is expensive too.

Paphiopedilum stonei

The leaves of Paphiopedilum stonei orchid may grow up to a length of 28 inches, while the flower step grows to a height of 28 inches. Each flower stem carries two to four large blossoms. The white dorsal sepal is more or less oval-shaped, measuring two inches in height and width and has a small number of vertical purple lines.

The yellow petals flushed and dotted with maroon are arching and angle downwards. The lip has a creamy or white hue at its base and towards the front it is deep pink. This orchid species is in bloom in summer or at the beginning of autumn.

Paphiopedilum victoria-mariae

The leaves of Paphiopedilum victoria-mariae are heavily mottled and grow up to a length of about 10 inches to 12 inches. The flower stem is unusually tall and may grow up to a height of 3 feet to 4 feet. Since the stem is very tall, it is necessary to stake it.

The stem becomes longer as the flowering progresses, generally one flower at a time. Each flower stem bears as many as 20 flowers or even more. The individual flowers have a cream or yellow hued dorsal sepal that is about 1 inch in length. The center of the dorsal sepal is green and striped with maroon.

The reddish purple petals of this multiflowering paphiopedilum is about 1 ½ inches long. They are slender and twisted. The purple lip is about 1 ½ inches and has a greenish or whitish rim. This orchid has a prolonged flowering season which begins in spring or summer.

Hybrid paphiopedilums

The chances are more that you will come across hybrid paphiopedilums rather than the species of this orchid genus. Many of them are first generation hybrids developed by crossing two species, while there are numerous complex hybrids that are actually hybrids of hybrids.

Occasionally, the complex hybrids are also developed by many distant ancestral species. However, the orchid plants that you purchase are most likely to be seedlings and in this case they will have a grex name. In fact, grexes ensure that the plants will bear either greater or lesser similarity to other seedlings obtained from the same cross.

Then again, if the plant you are buying is a division, it will be quite expensive, but will be one and the same as its parent. For example, you are likely to encounter several many orchids named Winston Churchill, which is actually a grex name.

On the other hand, when you see Winston Churchill 'Indomitable', you will be sure that it is a division of the award-winning paphiopedilum orchid and not a relative of the plant. These days, newer hybrid orchids are appearing at a hysterical pace. For instance, as many as 80 new hybrid paphiopedilums were registered during three months of a recent year.

All these hybrid orchids have a tendency to be robust plants having wide, rounded flowers with noticeably defined hues and that are highly glossy. Below are descriptions of some of the innumerable hybrid grexes.

Paphiopedilum Harrisianum

Paphiopedilum Harrisianum dates back to 1866 and it is the maiden hybrid paphiopedilum. The flowers of this paphiopedilum are dark burgundy red with slightly stripes. The dorsal sepal of the flower is white.

Paphiopedilum Makuli

The flowers of this paphiopedilum hybrid have a white dorsal sepal with green and purple stripes. The petals have light maroon spots, while the pouches or lip is russet red.

Paphiopedilum Maudiae

The plants of Paphiopedilum Maudiae produce tessellated leaves, while the flower stalks are sturdy bearing white flowers having green stripes. Later, crosses developed involving the darker forms of the original species have given rise to plants possessing the same vigour and stripes. However, they are pink (coloratum) hued and in dark red (vinicolor) shades.

Paphiopedilum Winston Churchill

This paphiopedilum orchid bears large and round-shaped flowers having heavy texture. These are the typical characteristics of this grex. The white dorsal sepals of Paphiopedilum Winston Churchill are large and expansive. They may be spotted heavily or flared with deep red.

Tropical American slippers

The tropical American slippers, which belong to the South and Central American genus Phragmipedium, are not as popular as the paphiopedilum orchids. But the people's interest in plants of this genus as well as their hybrids has been increasing fast ever since the vivid red Phragmipedium besseae was introduced in the market.

Apparently, these plants as well as their flowers bear resemblance to the Asiatic slippers. However, the Asiatic slippers and the tropical American slippers differ significantly. The flowering stem of the tropical American slippers are jointed, while the bracts are prominent.

In addition, these plants may be branched and usually they bear numerous flowers. Since chromosomal differences exist between the two genera, it is very difficult to make intergeneric crossing. However, culturally, both the genera, but a major difference exists.

Plants in the Phragmipedium genus have a strong preference for acid and, hence, they are unable to tolerate hard water or lime.

Phragmipedium besseae

Phragmipedium besseae was discovered very recently - in 1981 and considering the vivid color of this orchid, it is certainly a spectacle. The plants produce clumps of dark green foliage that send up the flowering stalk. Each flower stem of this orchid species bears anything between one and six flowers that unfurl one after another.

The flowers are slightly less than 2 ½ inches in width and they are about 2 inches tall. All segments of the flowers of this tropical American slipper orchid species, which includes the pouch, have a bright red color. However, seedlings and hybrids developed from the original species have displayed some color variations - precisely speaking, a tendency towards yellow and orange.

Phragmipedium caudatum

This is a spectacular tropical American slipper orchid species whose leaves may grow up to 2 feet to 3 feet in length. The flower stem of this orchid is about a yard in height and bears two to four blossoms that unfurl in succession on separate stalks, which measure about 6 inches.

The dorsal sepal is creamy hued and has green veins or a netting of maroon. The petals are long and twisted and when they unfurl they are about 6 inches in length. Interestingly, as the flowering progresses, the petal may elongate up to 36 inches over a period of several days.

The growth up the petals stops when the tips come across any solid surface. Hence, it is advisable that you grow this orchid in a basket that is supported on a pedestal or a hanging basket. Initially, the color of the petals is same as the dorsal sepal - creamy, but their color becomes more intense near the tips. Towards the tips, the color of the petals is purplish red or deep rose.

Phragmipedium klotzscheanum

This tropical American slipper orchid produces slender leaves having sedge shape and they may grow up to a length of anything between 12 inches and 15 inches. The flowering stalk of Phragmipedium klotzscheanum grows up to a height of 2 feet and it bears up to six flowers that unfurl in succession.

The pale greenish brown dorsal sepal of this orchid species measures 2 inches in height and are striped with maroon. The petals are drooping and measure about 4 inches in length. They have the same color as the dorsal sepal. The pouch is yellow, but the interior is white with a speckling of purple.

Phragmipedium lindleyanum

Phragmipedium lindleyanum produces deep green leaves that may grow up to a length of anything between 1 ½ feet and 2 feet. The flowering stem of this orchid may grow up to a height of a yard and bears a couple of flowers at a time.

Overall, each flower spike bears about 30 green and rose blossoms having green or yellow lips. In general, the individual flowers measure a little less than 3 inches.

Phragmipedium pearcei

The leaves of Phragmipedium pearcei have a deep green color and they grow up to a length of 10 inches to 18 inches. The flowers of this tropical American slipper orchid are green and white with a tint of pink.

Each flower stem bears anything between two and five flowers, measuring around 5 inches. The lip of the flower is a little over an inch in length. Usually it is green, but has purple dots around its mouth.

Phragmipedium sargentianum

Phragmipedium sargentianum produces green leaves with yellow edges. Each leaf of this orchid may grow up to a length of 1 ½ feet. The flowering stem is tall, usually growing up to 4 feet or even taller and bears about five flowers that unfurl one after another. The flowers of this orchid species bear resemblance to the blooms of P. lindleyanum.

Phragmipedium schlimii

This tropical American slipper orchid produces bright green leaves that grow up to a length of 1 foot. The flowering stalk grows up to 1 foot and is branched, each bearing anything between two and six blossoms.

The sepals and petals of this orchid are generally rounded, while the lip is wide and puffy. The flowers may have white or pink hue or may be a blend of both. The individual flowers measure 2 inches wide.

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