As we said, paphiopedilum comes from Asia; some species originate from the cool climate zones of Central Asia; others are tropical. Usually all the species of paphiopedilum from the collectors are cultivated in a mild climate, with maximums not exceeding the 30*C, and minimums not lower than the 5-8°C. Even if, in effect, the non-tropical species might find a place in the garden, or in cold greenhouses, especially in the areas of Italy, where the winters are mild and temperate.
The paphiopedilum are free of pseudobulbs, and develop in tufts, where each ripe bud carries only one flower, carried by a long, erect, dark-coloured stem. The foliage is bright green, rigid and fleshy, and develops fan-shaped, directly from the collar of the plant, which is therefore without stem.
The flowers are large, green or white, with purple or brown spots.
The cultivation is quite simple: the paphiopedilum need a diffused, not excessive, luminosity, and must be kept away from direct sunlight, especially during the hot summer days; the humidity must be constant, but not excessive, it is usually sufficient to slightly moisten the substratum, avoiding to keep it soaked, but also avoiding to leave it dry for prolonged periods of time; sporadically we provide some fertilizer for flowering plants, strongly diluted, as the roots fear the excessive presence of mineral salts in the soil.
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- Generally, when we think of an orchid, our imagination evokes memories of delicate plants, with very particular requirements, often with aerial roots, which should be cultivated only by real aperitifs.
The epipactis are soil orchids of European origin; they prefer humid, cool and very bright locations, and can bear even direct sunlight, but only if they can enjoy a good moisture content. They produce green, brown or white scarp-shaped flowers on long stems.
Also the cypripedium are mainly terrestrial species, they are lively orchids, therefore they develop from spring till late summer, when the aerial part dries up and the plant goes into vegetative rest; there are many species of cypripedium, most of them develop like alpine perennials, that is, they prefer luminous positions, with humid soil, and other ambient humidity; they fear the direct sunlight and the excessive heat, therefore in summer it is advisable to cultivate them in a cool place, sheltered from the heat and the sun.
Flowers shoe: Soil and exposure
As we said before, these three genera of orchids have development in the soil, in any case it is good to consider their place of origin; even if they develop in the soil, usually this happens in the undergrowth, where the soil is formed mainly by dried leaves, peat, small pieces of wood or bark; therefore we can plant our orchids in a substratum formed by the common orchid mould, made of small pieces of bark, sphagnum fibre and other vegetable fibres, to which we shall add equal quantities of universal peaty mould; in this way we shall obtain a soft and very porous soil, suitable for the development of the thin roots of our orchids.
Let’s remember to water these plants regularly, this does not mean to flood the pots every day, but to provide small amounts of water every 2-3 days, thinning the watering when the climate is cold and intensifying when the climate is hot. In the case of cypripedium, when the plant is in vegetative rest, watering should be suspended completely.
Even when we do not water, we must remember to keep the climate quite humid, vaporizing the foliage, with demineralized water; when we carry out this operation, we must avoid wetting the scarp flowers, which could stain or wilt prematurely.
If we want to cultivate a paphiopedilum, but we do not know its place of origin, we have to keep in mind that the plants with green foliage usually come from areas with cool climate, similar to that of southern Italy, but the species with spotted or striped foliage are usually tropical, which therefore fear the cold.