Out of all the orchids on the market, Lady Slipper Orchids are one of the most unique varieties available. They are lauded for their one-of-a-kind blooms, intricate petal shapes, and striking color combinations.
With their bulbous petal pouches, it’s safe to say that Lady Slipper Orchids are both strange and stunning, some growers going as far as calling them alien-like.
Lady Slipper Orchids are from the genus Cypripedium, which derives its name from the Greek words “cypris,” a reference to the mythological Aphrodite, and “pedilion,” which means sandal.
For centuries, Lady Slipper Orchids have been collected and cherished—not only for their very unique beauty but for their alleged medicinal properties too. Their flowers, stems, and leaves have been used across the globe for centuries to elicit wonder and healing, and to impart good fortune on both giver and recipient.
If you’re looking for an orchid variety that will have your visitors gasping with delight, then the Lady Slipper Orchid is perfect for you.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the specific features of the Lady Slipper Orchid so you can keep your orchid healthy and thriving all year round.
Where Do Lady Slippers Grow in the Wild?
Lady Slipper Orchids come in over 60 varieties and can be found in many climates. They’re native to cool, alpine environments like Alaska and the Himalayas, and hot, humid coastal regions like South China.
Lady Slipper Orchids are also found in North America and Europe. Most often, they grow in coniferous forests, usually on mossy slopes or at the base of deciduous trees like oak, maple, and elm trees.
What makes Lady Slipper Orchids truly unique is that they are terrestrial plants, unlike many popular orchid species. Traditional orchids are epiphytic, meaning they don’t need ground soil to grow. Instead, epiphytic orchids get their nutrients by clinging to trees and other forest foliage. Terrestrial orchids, though, like the Lady Slipper, grow from the ground, and require soil to live.
Professional Tip: Because Lady Slippers often grow in clusters in nature, they tend to do well in indoor gardens when surrounded by other plants. Collectively, many plants huddled together helps raise the humidity levels in the air, which in turn keeps the Lady Slipper Orchid happy and healthy.
What Are the Features of the Lady Slipper Orchid?
Lady Slipper Orchids are one-flowered plants that boast unusual blooms with slipper-shaped pouches. The slipper petal often ranges in color, sometimes presenting marbled or freckled patterns.
The Lady Slipper’s other petals are quite stunning too. The dorsal sepal often comes in striking colors, such as pastel green, pure white, and fuschia, while the two thin petals that wing the slipper and dorsal give the plant an unusual symmetry. The staminode, which is the small single petal in the flower’s center, is typically lipped or dotted, making it an eye-catching centerpiece.
The Lady Slipper’s leaves are leathery and solid green, though sometimes the Lady Slipper’s leaves can be mottled in light and dark shades of green.
Professional Tip: Interestingly, the color of a Lady Slipper’s leaves gives important clues about its temperature preference. A plant with solid green leaves prefers cool temperature, while a plant with mottled green leaves prefers a more humid environment.
How to Position Your Lady Slipper Orchid
The most important thing to keep in mind when finding the perfect indoor spot for your Lady Slipper Orchid is that too much direct light can quickly kill your plant.
Keep your Lady Slipper in a room that receives moderate to bright indirect light, and be sure to keep the plant out of any direct sun rays.
Professional Tip: Lady Slipper Orchids also do well under fluorescent lights. If you’re struggling to find a well-lit spot, fluorescent lighting can help make any room the perfect spot for your orchid.
The Best Potting Mix for Lady Slipper Orchids
Lady Slipper Orchids are terrestrial plants, so they do best in organic potting soil that’s rich with natural minerals and nutrients.
Avoid using traditional orchid potting mix, since those varieties are formulated for epiphytic plants. The medium is typically too loose to provide the right nutrients and stability for a terrestrial orchid.
Professional Tip: If you’d like to make your own soil instead of purchasing a commercial product, mix 1 part charcoal, 3 parts coarse sand, and 3 parts peat moss.
Watering Your Jewel Orchid
The key to keeping your Lady Slipper Orchid happy is to keep its soil damp, but not soggy. If your plant sits in thoroughly wet soil for too long, its roots will be susceptible to rot.
Like most houseplants, your orchid can’t survive for long without a healthy, rot-free root system. Be sure to use well-draining soil to greatly reduce the chances of your orchid’s roots sitting in soggy soil.
Professional Tip: For best results, wait until the top inch of your potting soil is dry before giving your plant a good drink.
The Best Temperature and Humidity Levels for Your Lady Slipper Orchid
Appropriate temperature and humidity levels will vary depending on your plant species. It’s safe to bet, however, that your Lady Slipper prefers moist, humid air to dry, indoor conditions.
Aim to keep your orchid’s environment between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
Professional Tip: If you suspect your home environment to be too dry for your Lady Slipper, try placing your plant on a humidity tray or purchasing a small humidifier to ensure your plant is enjoying the moist air it needs to survive.
Repotting Your Lady Slipper Orchid
The best time to repot your Lady Slipper is after flowering season. When choosing a new pot, do your best to pick a pot that isn’t too roomy. Lady Slippers enjoy being slightly root-bound in their pots.
Typically, you’ll only want to repot your orchid if its soil is showing signs of decomposition. While repotting is a good way to provide your plant with new, nutrient-dense soil and keep its blooms happy and healthy, many orchid types do very well in the same pot for their lifetime.
Professional Tip: Avoid repotting your Lady Slipper Orchid more than once per year since some plants can experience stress and pot shock when frequently repotted.
Set Yourself Up for Growing Success With Orchid Fertilizer
If you’re looking for the best way to lock in your orchid-growing success and care for your Lady Slipper Orchid, use a reliable orchid fertilizer to nourish your plant. The right orchid fertilizer will support all of your efforts to keep your plant vibrant and healthy.
Lady Slipper Orchids are a bit more sensitive to fertilizer than other houseplants, so it’s important to use an orchid fertilizer that’s formulated specifically for the unique needs of your orchid plant. The right orchid food will encourage healthy root growth, lush foliage, and reliable blooms without burning your plant’s roots or delicate buds.
For best results, use our Premium Orchid Food to nourish your orchid. It’s an easy-to-use spray formula that makes fertilizing your orchid simpler than ever.
Simply spray the orchid food on your Lady Slipper Orchid’s leaves, roots, and potting mix every time you water. Then sit back and watch your orchid sprout its unique slipper-shaped petals!