Paphiopedilum (paf-ee-oh-ped-i-lum) Orchid                                              Leaflet 07

These orchids are characterised by the cupped lip, or slipper-like pouch. The species are widespread, from China, through the Himalayas and throughout S.E. Asia, Indonesia, New Guinea and the Philippines. So generally they need intermediate to warm conditions.


Growth habit is sympodial i.e. each new growth is connected by a short rhizome so the plants progressively march (slowly) through the compost surface. But they have no pseudo bulbs and their only food reserves are in the thick fleshy roots and leaves, so they cannot stand prolonged dry periods and thrive in buoyant humidity.



Mottled leaved and some plain green leaved plants are best under warm conditions; leaving the usually smaller green leaved types to be grown cooler but precise conditions for the species depend on their natural habitats. Cooler green leaf types need 10-13c (50-55f) as a night minimum while the mottled leaf and warmer plain green leaf types need 15-18c (60-65f. Day temperatures should range between 21-27c (70-80f) but short periods outside these ranges should not harm plants.


They all enjoy a semi shaded position but too much shade can inhibit flowering, 800-1200 lux year-round will give optimum growth so avoid direct sunlight.


This is important for healthy growth and is relatively easy to achieve in the greenhouse by damping down, but in the home plants should be stood in a tray of moist gravel (ideally Hortag).


Vigorous moist air movement at a temperature favourable to the plants is highly recommended to keep leaves cool and evaporate any water drops, especially from their crowns, and so prevent rotting. Hot or cold draughts cause buds to go brown and die, so be careful where you place the plants especially those on windowsills.



Because they have no pseudo bulbs, the plants must have a regular constant water supply, this means keeping the compost moist, so only allow it to become semi-dry before a thorough watering. Bark compost can get very dry quickly in warm conditions and it may be necessary to immerse the pots in water for 10-20 mins occasionally.


They are not heavy feeders so use a general feed with trace elements (e.g. .Phostrogen) at half strength monthly when growth is rapid, less often or weaker at other times.



They are terrestrial in nature and need a medium which is free draining but moisture retentive. Re-pot every 2 years or sooner if the compost deteriorates and keep in pots as small as possible. Re-potting involves cutting off dead roots, placing the plants in new pots with space for 2 years growth and filling in with fresh compost firmly. Do not bury the growths as this causes rot, the base of the growths should be just in the surface so new roots are encouraged to grow into the compost. Keep water to a minimum for the first 2-3 weeks but maintain high humidity or the plants will dehydrate. Make sure the new compost is moistened before re-potting and put the newly re-potted plants in a shady area and move gradually to proper light conditions as growth begins.



This basic information leaflet has been produced by the Cheltenham & District Orchid Society.

If you would like further information, help or advice you can email us at Cheltenham Orchids