Slipper orchid care for these orchids is a little more difficult than Cattleyas but you can be successful. To me, slipper orchids sometimes called Lady Slippers are one of the prettiest orchids around. They have this waxy sheen to them and the petals and lips are thicker than most orchids.
The one feature that sets slipper orchids apart from others is the lip. It forms a cup like pouch.
Another part of the slipper orchid that sets them apart is the uppermost sepal which looks like an inverted heart. The lower sepals may be almost completely hidden from view by the pouch.
Lady Slipper orchids bloom singly for the most part. They generally flower from autumn to spring although there are now hybrids that can bloom at anytime during the year. As beautiful as these orchids are I need to tell you about slipper orchid care.
These Paphiopedilum orchids have no water storing features like pseudobulbs. They are generally terrestrial, soil growing, growing in the shade of the forest floor or bogs where they can always be moist. So watering needs to be available constantly. Paphiopedilum orchid care requires that they be moist and never dry or soggy.
Paphiopedilums are unique, there are both warm and cool growing plants. Slipper orchid care will alter a little because of these two different types of Paphiopedilums. The warm growing need temperatures from 60 - 65 F. degrees to 75 -85 F. degrees. Whereas the cool growing orchid Paphs. need temps from 50 - 55 F. all the way up to 75 - 80 F. degrees. These orchids can also do well with a constant temperature and the cool growing ones can stand temperatures into the 40's if needed for a short time.
Those Paphiopedilums which have green leaves are usually the cool climate ones, while those with mottled leaves are warm growing ones.
As most orchids, lady slipper orchids require humidity between 40 - 60%, remember they usually grow on the rain forest floor. This may need to be augmented by using humidity trays. You can get a flat tray with sides. Fill the tray with stone pebbles and then add water about half way up. Place the plant on the tray making sure that the slipper orchid roots are not touching the water. If it does there is a good chance for root rot.
Because they grow in shade on the forest floor they should not be left in sunlight for very long. They do prefer shade, under a tree or near an east window. This is one of the nice elements of slipper orchid care.
Fertilizer is needed and I recommend 1/4 strength given on a weekly basis. The fertilizer should be high in nitrogen so one with30-10-10 ratio is best. Monthly rinse the slipper orchids with water alone to prevent the fertilizer from building up on the root and potentially burning them.
One final point on slipper orchid care, you should re-pot infrequently, that is, about every second year is fine. You should use a mixture which has an excellent moisture retention like fir bark with perlite and some sphagnum moss.
Following these rather straight forward rules will give you years of enjoyment with you slipper orchid.
If you would like more information about how to grow other fascinating and fun orchids check out this page.