Phragmipedium (group)
Common Name: orchid
Type: Orchid
Family: Orchidaceae
Zone: 9 to 12
Height: 0.75 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Green, pink, red, orange, yellow; many with vein lines
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy

Culture

Phragmipedium orchids should be kept moist at all times as long as a well-drained potting mix is used. Rain water or distilled water is best, although city water with a low salt level is acceptable. The plants should be flushed out well with each watering. Most Phrags like bright light levels, but not direct sun. If the plants are outside in the summer, place them in filtered shade. Humidity should be 60% or greater. Most prefer intermediate temperatures in the 70° and 80° F during the day and in the 60° F at night. Air movement is critical, and a ceiling fan is ideal for growing in the home. These orchids are light feeders; therefore, dilute fertilizer to quarter strength of the recommended level. Use a balanced fertilizer with trace elements and feed weekly after watering. Repot once a year after blooming and when new foliar growth is emerging from the base of the plant, usually in the spring. Because these orchids like moist conditions, use plastic pots. Pot in a commercial, bark-based, orchid potting medium. Do not overpot (use a pot that is too large for the root mass).

Noteworthy Characteristics

These dramatic slipper orchids grow in the wild on the stream banks of shady mountain slopes from southern Mexico through central South America. They were very popular with Victorian growers and continue to be favored today. They produce long, strap-like foliage. The tall flower spikes bear three to four flowers or more, and some plants bloom in succession—as one flower falls from the plant, another bloom opens. Each flower lasts about a month.

Genus name comes from the Greek word phragma meaning a fence or partition name combined with the genus name Cypripedium.

Problems

Relatively trouble free; watch for mealy bugs and remove with a swab dipped in alcohol.

Garden Uses

Phragmipedium orchids are fairly easy to grow and make attractive plants in the home.