Lady Slippers

Paphiopedilums, Seed Grown Delights

Nearly gone are the days when commercial growers transplanted thousands of young orchid seedlings, raised them to maturity, watched them bloom, and picked the best. Selective breeding, as it was called, was the standard practice for raising popular genera such as Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, Oncidiums, and Phalaenopsis as late as the 1990’s.

Care in the Winter


How should we care for our orchids during these cold winters? Diane F.


One would think that tropical plants and snow storms are highly incompatible. Yet millions of orchid hobbyists across America are able to bridge the gap to successfully grow and bloom a wide range of orchid genera by creating healthy horticultural microclimates within their homes. The months of December, January, and February offer the greatest challenges, as well as the greatest rewards - if executed correctly.

Buying Tips

Consumers have many options when buying orchids. The flowers can be about to open, fully in bloom, or half and half. Oncidiums, with at least one bud remaining, such as this popular hybrid, Sweet Sugar, are considered fresh.

"Pouch" on a Lady Slipper?

Q) What is the purpose of the ‘pouch’ on a lady slipper? Allison R.

A) Botanists classify flowers as orchids by their structure. Typical blooms have 3 petals and 3 sepals that alternate around a central column. The lower petal is called the ‘lip’ or throat and is usually a different color. The purpose of the throat is to attract pollinators as both the male and female parts are found within. Additionally, the throat often emits a fragrance to lure potential suitors. Common flowers such as roses, daffodils, and petunias have entirely different configurations.

Book Review: The Scent of Scandal - Greed, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Beautiful Orchid. By Craig Pittman (University Press of Florida 2012)

The clever title of this book is designed to catch the reader’s eye but it is not to be taken literally. Most Lady Slippers don’t have a ‘scent’ and people generally consider these flowers to be interesting or unusual rather than drop dead gorgeous. But the scandal that plays out within this 242 page hardback is as addictive a read as any on a Best Seller list.

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