Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium

- the Slipper Orchids

Paphiopedilum orchids have fan-like leaves and a pouch,

or slipper, as part of the flower.

The pouch’s purpose is to trap a pollinating insect.

The insect is first lured to the lip of the pouch before it slips inside.

Then it must use a ladder of small hairs that are covered

with pollen to climb back out,

thus ensuring that the plant can spread its pollen to another orchid.

These are usually terrestrial orchids,

growing in the ground

and deriving their nutrients directly from the soil.

They are evergreen plants and do not have psuedobulbs.

There are about 65 species of Paphiopedilums found primarily

in India, China, South-East Asia, Philippines,

Indonesia and New Guinea.

As with many of the orchids,

hybridizers have been busy with the Paphs.,

creating new and exciting crosses.
Paphiopedilums are valued for their longevity

and some plants have been known

to live for 150 years in collections.

Paphs. should be repotted once a year,

like other orchids,

but the roots should not be disturbed

and the pot should be kept as small as possible.

Use a bark-based compost growing medium.

Paphs. should be kept out of direct sunlight

and should be kept evenly moist all year long.

It is recommended that they be fed with a balanced fertilizer

at half-strength weekly.

The blooms need to be supported

so that they are shown to their best advantage.

Phragmipediums are also called slipper orchids.

Phragmidediums are mainly

terrestrial (grow in the ground),

epiphytic (growing on trees),

or lithophytic (growing on rocks) plants

and are native to South America.

Thus far only about 20 species have been found.

In the last part of the 20th century

a bright red Phragmipedium orchid

was found clinging to the sheer face of an inaccessible cliff in Peru.

It was spotted from the air by helicopter and this Phrag.

soon took the orchid world by storm

and pushed this genus of orchid to the forefront.

The previously muted, drab-colored orchids

were now being crossed with this new vibrant red orchid,

creating brighter red and orange orchids.

Phragmipediums should be planted

in sand and peat or sphagnum moss if they are terrestrial orchids

and coarse bark mulch if they are epiphytes or lithophytes.

They should be kept evenly moist throughout the year.

The terrestrial Phrags. actually prefer to be constantly wet.

Feed every other watering.

Provide shade in the summer and give more light in the winter.

And you can certainly see why one of the

members of our group wanted to take

home one of these beauties.

She didn't this year,

but I have a feeling she won't be able

to hold out forever.

After all, she has been bitten by the orchid bug.

Next time will cover the other orchids:

the Brassias, the Cattleyas, the Cymbidiums, the Dendrobiums,

the Epidndrums, the Masdevallias, the Miltoniopsis,

the Odontoglossums, the Oncidiums, the Vandas

and the Zygopetalums.