Paphiopedilum Culture

These plants come from large parts of tropical Asia including China, India and Cambodia. They are usually terrestrial in the rain forest, growing in the leaf litter on the moist ground. Therefore their light requirements are less than that for most epiphytes. This makes them a good choice as a widow-sill house plant because in house temperatures are fairly suitable, but same shading using sheer curtains will be required in the summer and more humidity required in the winter when our homes are usually quite dry.

For greenhouse growing they need to be located in intermediate conditions where the minimum temperature is about 12C to 15C. However, even under 70% shading in the summer, extra shade must be provided. I achieve this by locating the plants where they get extra shade from Cattleya orchids hanging from the rafters and also from Spanish Moss, suspended from above, forming a curtain

A potting mix which works well for Paphs as they are called, consists of a mixture of fine bark or (coco-nut husks), and coarse perlite, which drains quickly but retains some moisture. Since they have no pseudobulbs unlike many epiphytes, they need to be watered enough to keep the medium moist. There are plenty of other potting mixes which other growers use, but the one I have described works well for me. Paphs should be repotted when the pot gets too small for the plant but after a maximum of 2 years anyway, as the medium will eventually break down and become soggy, which will kill the roots. Unlike Phalaenosis, Paphs will send out new basal growth so that it is possible and desirable to divide them when they have several growths. In this way, you can increase the number of plants which you can either keep, sell, or give away.

Use rainwater for watering if possible, but if municipal water must be used, fill a bucket with it and let it stand overnight to release Chlorine and also to warm the water. Do water in the morning if possible, to allow the foliage to dry off before nightfall.

The best way to test the need for watering is by lifting the pot to feel its weight. Wet pots are significantly heavier than dry ones and this practice is not difficult to learn. However, smaller pots will dry out more quickly than larger ones, so you will need to test frequently. This method is better than just watering on a weekly basis because it provides water when the plants need it. When you do water, do it thoroughly in order to wet all the medium and so that the excess water pours out of the drainage holes.

Paphs need to be fertilized as do any plants growing in an artificial medium. I use a balanced fertilizer containing necessary trace elements such as Plant Products 20-20-20 and I apply it mixed with water in a ratio of 1/2 tsp per 2 gallon bucket for 3 successive waterings, but on the 4th I use plain water only, to flush out excessive salts that may have accumulated. During winter, I reduce the amount by half and plants require less watering in the Winter dull weather.

Phaphs are far less likely to be attacked by insects such as Scale and Mealy Bugs than are Phals, but weekly checks should be made. If you do encounter either of these pests, swab them off using a tissue soaked in (50%) diluted rubbing alcohol and use a small soft brush to get into the crevices. You will need to repeat this process until no more bugs appear, but keep checking as a matter of course. using commercial insecticides does not work very well because these bugs have waterproof coverings which protects them from direct contact.

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