Contrary to popular belief, Orchids are generally fairly easy to tend, provided you house them appropriately. Paphiopedilums in particular, are a very good, hassle-free variety, perfectly suited to the less green-fingered amongst us. Simply taking care of five basic requirements should mean that you are able to cultivate a healthy orchid that repeatedly blossoms and rewards you with its beauty.
1. Potting Requirements
The substance which your orchid is planted in is crucial to its well-being so always use a specialist orchid planting medium. Paphiopedilums like to be re-potted in fresh medium on an annual basis as this helps to keep their roots supple and well aerated.
When selecting a container, it is best to use one into which the roots fit snugly; a pot that is too large will hold more excess water and increase the risk of root rot.
The material of the container is also of considerable importance and pot made of natural materials is far preferable to one made from man made substances as it will absorb more surplus moisture.
2. Watering Requirements
As with all orchids, this variety needs hydrating very infrequently. Before watering, it is always best to check the dampness of the planting matter by poking your finger at least two inches within it. Only add more moisture if this feels almost dry. Generally, Paphiopedilums can go 7-8 days between hydration sessions, although this may need to be adjusted to suit the weather.
3. Temperature Requirements
There are two varieties of Paphiopedilums; those that require a cool environment and those that do best in warmer surroundings. The warm variety need temperatures between 75-85 degrees F by day, and although they like a drop in their overnight environment temperature, this shouldn’t fall below 60 degrees F. The cool growing variety do best between 70-80 degrees by day and can tolerate a lower temperature of up to 50 degrees F by night. These conditions are easily achievable in the average home which makes Paphiopedilums so ideally suited to life as houseplants.
4. Lighting Requirements
Although this type doesn’t need as much light as some orchid varieties, they still do best where there is abundant illumination. However, extreme care should be taken to protect them from harsh, direct sunlight especially at high noon. Net curtains or shades are quite effective at dispersing the light but choose your location carefully before you house your bloom.
Specialist daylight simulating bulbs are a good artificial solution in climates or environments where the plant does not receive sufficient natural illumination.
5. Humidity Requirements
High humidity levels are a universal requirement for almost all types of Orchids and Paphiopedilums are certainly no different. If need be, extra humidity can be created by placing damp pebbles or a tray of water close to the plant. Spraying the air nearby is also a simple yet effective measure to boost the mistiness.
Creating good air circulation is another helpful measure as stagnant humid atmosphere can be damaging too. Housing your orchid near a window allows sufficient ventilation control. Some over-enthusiastic gardeners have been known to take their orchids for a little evening stroll in the garden to give them some breathing space!
In addition to the above things, you will also need to fertilise your plant with a nitrogen based feed every four weeks or so. Always follow label directions to the exact letter to prevent overload.
Finally, keep an eye on the leaves of your Paphiopedilum as these give away many signals about its well-being. An orchid with glossy green foliage is likely to be a happy and healthy plant, guaranteed to dazzle anyone who beholds it with its splendour for a long time to come.
Carl Harrison is an orchid enthusiast. For more great tips and advice on paphiopedilum care, visit http://www.theorchidresource.com