Lady Slipper Orchids – What Are They?
The lady slipper orchid is a species of orchid found in the family Apiaceae (or Apioideae). There are over 300 known species of these plants worldwide. Most commonly they are called “slip” flowers because their petals fold back when touched by insects. These orchids have been used medicinally for centuries; some even believe that the plant was used to treat syphilis!
These orchids are native to Central America, but they were introduced into other parts of the world including South America and Africa. They’re not only beautiful, but they’re useful too!
Some examples include:
A popular use for lady slipper orchids is in perfumes. The fragrance from the flowers can last up to five years before it wears off.
Other uses include making soap, candles and shampoos.
Lady slipper orchids are often grown in containers so they don’t get damaged by extreme temperatures. However, they will still grow well outside if given proper conditions.
How Do You Grow Lady Slipper Orchids?
There are several ways to grow lady slipper orchids, but the most common method is to buy them already rooted and then just take care of watering and fertilizing once you receive them. The flower of the plant can last up to ten days, but this will vary depending on how you take care of it. The average person should be able to grow lady slipper orchids with relative ease as they are one of the more common types of orchids.
Grow Your Own Lady Slipper Orchid!
If you want to grow your own lady slipper orchid, there are two ways you can do it. One way is to buy a Cattleya Sinclareana which is a common type of orchid.
These are easy to find at most garden centers and you can grow them in an assortment of containers.
The second way is to grow a Cypripedium plant. These are also very common and grow well in many types of growing mediums, though the plants tend to be more delicate than the Cattleya Sinclareana orchids.
The steps to grow lady slipper orchids are quite easy as well. First you will need to buy the bulb and the type of container you want to grow it in.
It’s best to buy a pot that is at least six inches wide.
Once you receive your container with your bulb, place a few inches of gravel at the bottom for drainage. Next, place several inches of peat moss or sphagnum moss on top of the gravel.
Now place the bulb in the container and fill the remaining space with more peat moss or sphagnum moss.
Water the plant well and after a day or two, you can start to water it less frequently but make sure that it never dries out completely. Lady slipper orchids prefer bright indirect light so they should be placed somewhere other plants won’t cast too much shade on them.
They should be fertilized every couple of months during their growing season, which is spring and summer. Fertilize them with a quarter strength fertilizer for house plants and follow the instructions on how much to use.
From the time you first receive your bulb until its first blooming period, it should take around a year. After that it should only take a few months for it to bloom again.
The blooming process for lady slipper orchids is a little different than other types of orchids. The stem that holds the flowers, which can be up to five, emerges from the base of the bulb.
The stems can grow up to 18 inches and are thin with a light green color. The flowers themselves are white with red spots. They have a sweet fragrance that attracts bees and flies.
Orchid flowers come in a wide variety of colors and some are even two toned, such as the Cypripedium, which can have white, yellow or green on the lip of the flower. The most common types of orchids are those that are solid colored.
One of the more beautiful types of orchids is the Vanda. The leaves are long and can come in a variety of colors such as yellow, red and purple.
The flowers can have as few as three petals and more than a dozen. They also can be solid colors or have multiple colors in them. Vanda orchids are one of the most popular types of orchids because of their wide variety and adaptability. They can be grown outside or in a container and thrive in most lighting conditions, though they prefer medium lighting.
The Phalaenopsis is another common type of orchid. They have tall stems with a few blooms on them.
The flowers are usually more yellow or peach colored, but can be white as well. These orchids don’t need much light to bloom and prefer warmer temperatures. They also grow fairly quickly and flower almost every year.
If you are looking for an orchid that has a wide color range, from light pink to dark purple, then the Bridal veil is the one for you. They enjoy cooler temperatures than most other types of orchids and prefer to be a little more moist.
They take longer than most orchids to bloom, but produce flowers that last up to four months. They can grow in either full sunlight or partial shade.
The Cypripedium is a little different than most other types of orchids. Instead of having tall stems rising up from the ground, they have short, creeping stems that don’t grow more than six inches above the soil.
But this doesn’t mean their flowers are any less beautiful. They prefer to have cooler temperatures and can bloom up to three times a year if conditions are right. They will bloom more frequently if they are kept in cooler temperatures.
Orchids are also used to make tea. The Orchidaceae family is so large and varied, that there are many different kinds of orchid flowers with unique flavors that are used to make tea.
The most common types of orchid used to make tea are the Vanilla, Moth and Frog Orchids.
Orchids are also commonly mistaken for other plants. Some of these are poisonous so it is important that you can tell the difference between the two.
The most common look-a-likes are the turf, spurge and Madagascar jasmine.
The spurge is a poisonous plant that can be either green or yellow. It has oval leaves that are fleshy and the flowers are small with five petals.
The spurge can be found in most wasteland areas.
The turf is another poisonous plant that most commonly grows in green clumps. The leaves are thin and wavy and it produces yellow flowers.
It prefers to grow in moist areas of wasteland zones.
The Madagascar jasmine is a poisonous climbing vine that is common on beaches. The flowers are white and bell shaped and it prefers direct sunlight to partial shade.
These are only a few of the most commonly confused orchid look-a-likes. For a more complete list, you can purchase my new book entitled Common Look-Alikes of Popular Orchids.
It costs 10 gold and is well worth the money if you are serious about your gardening.
For the serious gardener, a collection of orchids is a must. Orchids come in almost all colors of the rainbow and their unique features make them fascinating to grown and observe.
From the Moth Orchid’s scent to attract bees for pollination to the Roller Orchid’s unique method of spreading its pollen, there is always something to learn about these wonderful plants.
The Cardianl loved to garden, he always had and today was no exception. He loved the peace and quite of his garden.
It was a place of serenity and beauty and if someone wanted his attention they would have to be very important indeed to come and visit him here.
The large trees in his garden surrounded him like towering guardians. Gnarled roots formed knots along the ground, holding together the rich, loamy soil.
Blooming flowers in a wide variety of colors carpeted the ground. Brightly colored butterflies flitted from flower to flower while birds nested in the trees and filled the air with their happy songs.
The old king could almost imagine that he was back here on his wedding day. He and his wife had walked down the gravel path that wound through the garden, endless smiles upon their faces as they day dreamed about their future together.
That had been such a happy day and the start of what he had thought would be a wonderful life together.
Now she was gone, taken from him many years ago. He would miss her always, but he was still here and he had many more memories to cherish.
The king’s reminiscing was interrupted by a knock at the door. That would be Lord Brandolf, the captain of his royal guard and arguably the closest thing he had to a friend nowadays.
“Enter.” He called out, still lost in his memories.
The oak door opened and closed with a thud and the lord of Gloom entered the room. Lord Brandolf was an average sized man with black hair and a neatly trimmed beard.
His armor is always kept in perfect condition and he wears it everywhere. Everyone knows when Lord Brandolf is on the move because he makes sure everyone knows he is coming. The man has no secrets and is honest to a fault; some say this is due to his noble heritage, others say it is due to his undying loyalty to the king.
“Good day, your highness.” Lord Brandolf said as he took his place beside you.
He stood at attention and scanned the area, his hands resting comfortably on his sword hilt.
“Good day, Lord Brandolf.
Is there something I can do for you?”
You ask, curious as to why he came to see you today. This wasn’t part of his regular rounds through the city.
“Yes, there is an urgent matter that requires your attention. A group of bandits have been spotted in the Gallant Forrest and are probably planning on heading here.
We need to organize a strike force immediately!”
Lord Brandolf was finally getting the opportunity he always wanted, this was the chance to prove himself as a great leader of men.
“I’ll have the royal army assembled and ready to go by tomorrow.”
“There is no time! They could strike anytime!
We need to gather a group right now and head out immediately!” Brandolf was getting antsy, he didn’t like waiting around when there was work that needed to be done. “Your highness, I understand if you need time to grieve, but the kingdom is in danger and…”
You hold up your hand to silence him. Lord Brandolf may be headstrong and rash, but he has a point.
Danger was approaching and you were wasting time.
“Very well, I’ll get my things.” You say standing up.
“Your highness, you can’t go. It’s too dangerous!” He exclaims.
“Considering I am the king, I think I can handle any bandit scum that comes my way. Now I can handle this, don’t worry.
Besides, someone needs to organize the defense of Gloom in case the bandits get past us.
Are you still in contact with Captain Renly?
Good, he can take charge of the defenses here.”
“But…” Lord Brandolf tries to argue again.
You were not in the mood for anymore arguing.
“Lord Brandolf, I am the king and I am ordering you to stay here. That is final, I must insist that you obey my orders.” You say in the firmest tone you can muster.
Lord Brandolf immediately shuts up and salutes.
“Yes, your highness, I apologize. It will not happen again.”
“Now I need a group of capable warriors. Where is Kralmer, I’m sure he’d like to come.” You ask.
He hasn’t been seen in days, I thought he might’ve left the city.
Do you want me to get him?”
“Never mind, I’ll find him myself. Hopefully he hasn’t abandoned his post.
Who else is available for this mission?”
“Well there is Sir Ignates, but he’s very old so he might not be up for it. Then there’s Sir Edmond, but he’s a drunk and probably won’t be much help.”
“I’ll take my chances with them. Now please gather them both, we need to get moving.”
Lord Brandolf nods and quickly runs off to complete his task. You on the other hand head back home to get your things.
This is going to be a long mission and you’re going to need the right equipment. You also need to gather some things to help heal wounds, you can’t expect your team to carry a physician with them all the time. While you’re packing your stuff, Kralmer suddenly appears in your room.
Hey, where have you been?
I wanted to talk to you about…” You begin to say, before you realize it’s not actually Kralmer, but a illusion. A quick scan of the room and the real Kralmer is hiding behind the door.
“I tried to tell you that Lord Brandolf was up to no good, but you wouldn’t listen! Now he’s planning on leading an army into the Gallant Forrest and kill all the elves there!”
How do you know this?”
“I’ve been listening to his conversations in the hall. He thinks I’m hunting in the woods, but I’ve been staying in the city and keeping an eye on him.”
“Hmm, maybe I was too quick to dismiss your concerns.
So what’s his plan? Why is he sending an army into the forest?”
“It’s all part of his plan to take the throne. He wants to get rid of you so he can be in charge. The army is going to attack because the Captain of the Elven Guard refuses to surrender. He knows if he does, Lord Brandolf will kill him and all the rest of the elves. He also plans on taking all the glory for himself when he defeats the elves. He’s trying to get rid of you, because you are the true threat to his power.”
“I see…what kind of numbers are we talking about?”
“Just a company, about two hundred men. But Lord Dravin is well respected so most of those in the military will follow him.”
What about the military here in the city? Won’t they be able to crush Captain Renly’s company?”
“He’s already taken care of that, he had Renly transferred out most of the men originally assigned here. Most of those still here are loyal to Lord Brandolf.”
So it’s going to be just us and the elven military? Are the elves any good?
I don’t really know much about them other than what the average citizen knows, and most of that is highly superstitious nonsense.”
“Well the Captain is an honorable man and a dedicated soldier. That’s all I really know, but I think if we don’t stop Lord Brandolf now, he’ll just gather more power and eventually we won’t be able to stop him at all.
I want to stop him now, before it’s too late.”
“Okay, I’ll trust you judgment on this, we need to stop him.
So what do you suggest?”
“I don’t know, but we have to do something. Maybe if we just took out the commander of this army, that would be a good start.”
“Hmm, maybe. But that’s still leaving the problem of Brandolf himself.
It’s also very risky and I doubt if we can get close enough to do it without getting caught.”
“Well I don’t know. That’s your area of expertise, I’m just a simple hunter.”
“Okay, well let me think about this and maybe come up with something. In the meantime you need to just go about your normal business and act like everything is normal.
Don’t go sneaking around anymore though, it’s only going to get you caught.”
You spend the next few days in contemplation. You still don’t know if you can bring yourself to kill children, even if it is for the good of your kingdom.
You aren’t sure if you can convince Kralmer to do it either. On the other hand you can see that something needs to be done.
However one thing you realize is that you are going to have to act soon. You’ve noticed Elana around in the city more and more lately, and that’s never a good thing.
Sources & references used in this article:
Costs of reproduction in the pink lady’s slipper orchid: a four-year experimental study by RB Primack, P Hall – The American Naturalist, 1990 – journals.uchicago.edu
Costs of reproduction in the pink lady’s slipper orchid (Cypripedium acaule): defoliation, increased fruit production, and fire by RB Primack, SL Miao, KR Becker – American Journal of Botany, 1994 – Wiley Online Library
Use of mowing in management of white ladyslipper by JT Curtis – The Journal of Wildlife Management, 1946 – JSTOR
Cost of reproduction in the pink lady’s slipper orchid (Cypripedium acaule, Orchidaceae): an eleven‐year experimental study of three populations by R Primack, E Stacy – American Journal of Botany, 1998 – Wiley Online Library
In vitro germination of three Cypripedium species in relation to time of seed collection, media, and cold treatment by MA Pauw, WR Remphrey – Canadian Journal of Botany, 1993 – NRC Research Press
IN VITRO GERMINATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF SHOWY LADY SLIPPER ORCHID (CYPREPEDIUM REGINAE Walt.) SEEDS. by E DeMarie, M Weimer, KW Mudge – HortScience, 1991 – journals.ashs.org
Ladys’ Slipper Orchids of India by HJ Chowdhery – 2015 – orchidsocietynsw.com.au
Asymbiotic germination and seed storage of Paphiopedilum insigne, an endangered lady’s slipper orchid by RV Diengdoh, S Kumaria, P Tandon, MC Das – South African Journal of …, 2017 – Elsevier
Asymbiotic germination of immature seeds and the seedling development of Cypripedium macranthos Sw., an endangered lady’s slipper orchid by Y Zhang, YI Lee, L Deng, S Zhao – Scientia Horticulturae, 2013 – Elsevier