“Lady’s Shoes”, or Pafiopedilum – a legend among indoor orchids-Care

Venus’s slippers are today almost ousted from counters and window sills by hardy phalaenopsis. Luxuriously blooming, medium-sized and very variable, papiopedilums are orchids, the flowering of which can be admired endlessly. Both nostalgic and fashionable at the same time, for many they remain unfamiliar plants, shrouded in myths and legends. In practice, they are much friendlier than their royal reputation says. Without careful care, papiopedilums do not bloom, and the conditions for them are not standard, but they get used to living rooms well.

“Lady’s Shoes”, or Pafiopedilum – a legend among indoor orchids

Paphiopedilum – plant description

The name pafiopedilum, or Pafiopedilum, in contrast to the beautiful nickname “lady’s shoes”, is not familiar to every florist. The orchid, named after the ancient Roman goddess, was a legend long before its brethren became almost obligatory for growing plants, and a mass of unpretentious hybrids made the dream of orchids come true for so many hobbyists.

Paphiopedilums (Paphiopedilum, the official designation is Paph.) Are terrestrial, sympodial, medium-sized orchids of the Cypripedia family. The maximum plant height, taking into account the length of the peduncle, is only 20 to 50 cm.

But papiopedilums are definitely not invisible. Strongly shortened rhizomes and very strong, well-developed, fleshy roots are characteristic of all Venus shoes. They develop typically for sympodial orchids – the “rosette” blooms only once, releasing a peduncle and will no longer be able to bloom.

The baton of fading plants is picked up by daughter plants growing at the base of maternal rhizomes and replacing them. This plant is never grown as individual specimens, but only in families or groups of 3 rhizomes, constantly giving new offspring.

The stripe-like leaves typical of orchids with very pointed tips and a central fold look very neat and strict. Leaves in length can reach 60 cm, in some species they are limited to several times smaller in size. They are monochrome, bright green or marble, and sit in a kind of double-sided socket. The leaves of papiopedilum grow quite actively, before dying and drying out, they turn yellow and brown.

In pafiopedilums, before releasing the peduncle from the center of the outlet, a smaller signal or stop list develops, which seems to precede the beginning of the flowering period.

Papiopedilum delenatii (Paphiopedilum delenatii x Paphiopedilum primiinum)Papiopedilum delenatii (Paphiopedilum delenatii x Paphiopedilum primiinum). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Eric Hunt

Venus shoes bloom

Pafiopedilum peduncles develop from the center of the rosettes. As a rule, they are quite straight and smooth, longer than the leaves.

They got their nickname “Venus’s shoes” for the swollen shape of a large lip, which really resembles graceful ladies’ shoes. It is the only orchid that has three types of “petals” in its flower.

The upper sepals are rightly compared to a sail, it is very large, bright, with patterns, slightly inclined to protect the lip. The upper sepals always differ from the two lateral ones in shape and size, and they all do not at all resemble a lip in color. The patterns are contrasting and catchy. The “venereal shoes” have three anthers at once – one sterile, similar to the scutellum, and two fertile ones.

This is an orchid blooming in spring. For her, flowering is considered natural during the growth of daylight hours. But depending on the conditions, and even the care, the flowering of papiopedilums can shift indefinitely, be delayed or continue atypically for a long time.

In fact, the flowering of this orchid always depends on the owners. In comfort, “lady’s shoes” bloom twice a year, and revolving varieties – continuously for more than 2 years.

The color palette of Venus shoes includes all known shades and midtones of all parts of the spectrum, except for blue. White, yellow, pink, purple, violet, green, brown – you can endlessly choose shades and variations of combinations of most often multicolored flowers. And the beauty of the patterns – from tiny specks to spots, stripes and ripples – is stunningly varied.

Venus shoes groups and categories

This orchid is rightfully recognized as the most diverse. And at the same time, all “lady’s shoes” are something special, but still stand out. They differ in the conditions and care they require, in many of the nuances of growing, but the key to identifying different groups and categories lies in their flowering. It is with him that the determination of what this orchid is needed for full flowering in the house begins.

According to the peculiarities of flowering, papiopedilums are divided into three large groups – single-flowered, multi-flowered and continuously flowering varieties and species.

Paphiopedilum pretty (Paphiopedilum conco-bellatulum)Paphiopedilum pretty (Paphiopedilum conco-bellatulum). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Orchids by Hausermann
Two-flowered orchid Paphiopedilum DelenatiiTwo-flowered orchid Paphiopedilum Delenatii. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Stefano
Paphiopedilum one-color (Paphiopedilum concolor)Paphiopedilum one-color (Paphiopedilum concolor). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com SERGEI EREMIN

Single-flowered papiopedilums

This is the largest group of species and varieties, including mainly “wild” or species plants, simple and complex hybrids of “lady’s shoes”, from which plant breeding began.

In fact, this is a group of the oldest papiopedilums in the culture. The name of the group clearly indicates the main feature of plants – the release of a very large, but only one, very rarely – two flowers on a peduncle, which can be simply cut off after flowering. The flowering period is long enough. Flowers can last up to 3 months.

Among the species in this group stand out:

  • Pafiopedilum is wonderful (Paphiopedilum insigne) – the most unpretentious of all types of Venus shoes. Its beige and light green flowers are fragrant and bloom in winter.
  • Paphiopedilum pretty (Phalaenopsis concēdō bellatulum) Is one of the most beautiful speckled orchids. Graceful snow-white flowers with almost black dots on all rounded petals seem to be an artificially created miracle.
  • Two-flowered orchid pafiopedilum Delenata (Paphiopedilum delenatii) and its numerous decorative forms with delicate pink-white colors and very large round side petals.
  • The exception to the “rules” of this group – papiopedilum one color (Paphiopedilum concolor), capable of releasing three delicate pastel flowers with small black specks on round petals.
  • The first of the hybrids of “Venus shoes” – unpretentious golden-white, wavy and watercolor pafiopedilum Garrisa (Paphiopedilum harrisianum – Paphiopedilum villosum x Paphiopedilum barbata).

But still they know one-flowered “lady’s shoes” by their appearance and relative unpretentiousness of American complex hybrid varieties. They produce although one flower, but up to 20 cm in diameter and with very complex speckled patterns, larger side petals of a rounded wavy shape and contrasting colors. A typical example is a light green variety with a white top petal ‘Maudie ‘.

Paphiopedilum harrisianumПафиопедилум Гарриса (Paphiopedilum harrisianum). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Averater
Paphiopedilum Rothschild (Paphiopedilum rothschildianum)Paphiopedilum Rothschild (Paphiopedilum rothschildianum). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Eric Hunt
Paphiopedilum parishiiПафиопедилум Пэриша (Paphiopedilum parishii). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com OrChris

Multi-flowered papiopedilums

This is a group with clusters of inflorescences, in which up to 10 flowers are collected. These orchids bloom as much as single-flowered ones – up to 3 months.

Among this group of “lady’s shoes”, not only varietal orchids with bright colors enjoy special love (the name often directly indicates the original type of orchid and the color shade – ‘Delenatii White’, ‘Delenatii Pink’, ‘Delenatii Gold’), but also some other types:

  • pafiopedilum «Deperle» (Paphiopedilum delenatii x Paphiopedilum primiinum) with graceful porcelain-white flowers with elongated petals;
  • with thin side petals sticking out like a mustache, a red lip and a striped sail Rothschild’s pafiopedilum (Paphiopedilum rothschildianum);

three species with long purple side petals hanging down to the leaves:

  • striped yellow-white paphiopedilium of the Philippines (Paphiopedilum philippinense);
  • striped beige brown purple striped pafiopedilum Sandera (Paphiopedilum sanderianum),
  • white-green papiopedilum parisha (Paphiopedilum parishii).

Revolving, or continuously blooming papiopedilums

This is a group of relentlessly or consistently flowering hybrid varieties, which, thanks to selection, bloom on peduncles up to 30 flowers. At the top of these papiopedilums, 1-2, occasionally 3 flowers are always dissolved.

The ability of each flower to hold out for more than a month allows the plant, even on one peduncle, to stretch the flowering period for 2 years or more. The longer it lasts, the more the peduncle lengthens and the smaller the flowers themselves are.

Without exception, all representatives of revolving papiopedilums are hybrid plants obtained mainly by crossing papiopedilum syzolic (Paphiopedilum glaucophyllum), pafiopediluma Liema (Paphiopedilum liemianum), papiopedilum royal (Paphiopedilum Victoria-queen) and pafiopediluma primrose (Paphiopedilum primiinum).

The most popular and “reliable” of the assortment series of revolving venereal shoes is considered group of varieties “Pinocchio” (Pinocchio) with shortened, almost linear lateral variegated petals, a swollen lip and a feather-shaped large upper petal.

Paphiopedilum PinocchioPaphiopedilum Pinocchio. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com NjuTIKA

Growing conditions for indoor papiopedilums

Heat-loving and cold-resistant, producing single flowers or inflorescences, papiopedilums are so diverse that they simply do not have general rules for growing. When purchasing even popular varieties of “Venus shoes”, it is worth clarifying all the nuances of care and conditions for their cultivation. After all, plants are so individual that there are simply no uniform norms for them. They require an individual approach.

Each orchid from among the papiopedilums is special, and this is exactly how you can treat it.

Lighting and placement

Unlike many beautifully blooming orchids, paphiopedilums adapt well to different lighting conditions, especially if they are gently accustomed to new conditions and during a dormant period.

They can bloom both in bright light and in light partial shade, they are content with any diffused light. And just like all orchids, they do not tolerate strong shading or direct sun. The latter is especially dangerous when combined with heat.

At the same time, multi-flowered papiopedilums, especially species rather than hybrid plants, require brighter lighting than single-flowered and revolving plants, can bloom in autumn and winter only with strong artificial lighting.

Approximate lighting indicators, comfortable for almost all types of pafiopedilum, are from 2100 to 2600 lux and from 12 to 14 hours of daylight hours.

Venus shoes are light-dependent, stretched towards the light source. They are regularly turned outside the flowering period for uniform development of bilateral leaf rosettes. But during the period of budding and flowering, plants cannot be displaced.

The best place for papiopedilums is rightfully considered to be the eastern window sills or any places with a similar intensity of illumination – from diffused lighting near the southern or partially southern windows to artificial lighting in the interior.

Temperature control and ventilation

“Lady’s shoes” adore coolness, they cannot stand the cold. no heat, and, like all orchids, they love daily temperature drops (especially revolving varieties). The optimal range of indicators for growing them depends on the thermophilicity or cold resistance of the variety.

Most of the single- and multi-flowered “lady’s shoes” of hybrid origin are cold-resistant and the ideal keeping regime for them is soft indoor, from 14 at night to 20 during the day during the period of active growth from March to October, and from 12 to 18 degrees in winter.

The brighter the leaves of the variety, especially if they are decorated with specks, the more thermophilic orchids are. Like all revolving papiopedilums, these varieties do not tolerate temperatures below 18 degrees and will prefer to grow at temperatures from 18 to 22 degrees.

Their dormant period is short, immediately after the end of flowering, it may not be cool, but it is better to limit the minimum temperatures to 16 degrees.

Ventilation should be very neat, but regular. Plants can be taken out to sheltered balconies or gardens, provided the lighting is controlled and protected from too bright light. Papiopedilums cannot stand the proximity of heating systems and air conditioning devices.

Paphiopedilum philippinensePaphiopedilum philippinense (Paphiopedilum philippinense). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Eric Hunt

Caring for papiopedilum at home

Despite the complexity of the selection of the place and the requirements for the conditions, the shoes are one of the simplest and this special orchids in the care of Venus. They will even be fine with regular watering as long as the minimum requirements are met for all care items.

Watering and air humidity

Paphiopedilums require very abundant watering during the period of active growth. This is one of the most moisture-loving orchids. “Lady’s shoes” love the constant light moisture of the soil and survive its complete drying out extremely badly, and some varieties even die in drought.

The substrate should not remain damp, it is dried to light moisture, but not completely, being guided by the change in the color of the roots in transparent containers and by tactile (tactile, to the touch) sensations in ceramic pots. Excess water must be drained no later than 5 minutes after watering.

Paphiopedilums can be watered using the classic method rather than immersion, although it is safer due to the uniform wetting of the substrate.

The winter watering regime depends on the type of plants. Single and multi-flowered papiopedilums prefer to reduce watering several times. Revolving papiopedilums are watered neatly and in the same way, with the exception of light drying after the last flowers have faded and before growth begins.

Watering “Venus shoes” has one key feature: these plants do not tolerate strong wetting of aerial parts and accumulation of water at the base of the leaves; you need to water gently around the perimeter or without deepening the rosettes from below when soaking.

Paphiopedilums should be watered with rainwater or similar artificial filtered analogs. Many old varieties can withstand ordinary settled water, but it is better not to experiment with fashionable novelties.

This orchid does not like very high humidity, preferring to grow in rooms with indicators from 30 to 60% (during the period of growth of leaves and daughter rosettes, it is desirable to increase the humidity to the upper norms). It can be sprayed with “fog” (warm water), especially in summer and in hot temperatures, periodically wipe the leaves with a slightly damp sponge. Dust accumulation on leaves is unacceptable

Top dressing and composition of fertilizers

This orchid is fed throughout the year, with the exception of the dormant and flowering period. The plant does not like sharp changes in the nutrient content of the substrate, therefore, instead of periodic feeding, it is better to carry out them constantly, adding a small amount of fertilizer to the water for irrigation.

If the usual feeding scheme is used, then during the period of active growth, fertilizers are applied with a frequency of 1 time in 3 weeks, with constant feeding, the dose is divided by the number of waterings (by 3 with standard weekly watering).

For “lady’s shoes” you can use only special fertilizers for orchids. This orchid cannot stand experiments with the composition of fertilizers or organic matter.

Trimming and shaping venereal shoes

These procedures are reduced to the removal of dry peduncles and leaves (as with all orchids, it is better not to rush the natural development processes).

Pafiopedilum excellent (Paphiopedilum insigne). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com John VarigosPafiopedilum excellent (Paphiopedilum insigne). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com John Varigos

Transplant, containers and substrate

Venus shoes are transplanted only when there is simply no room left for the development of roots. Paphiopedilums prefer transplants no more often than after 2-3 years. But it is better to monitor the development and condition of the root system. Any signs of rot and mold, accumulation of salt crystals and other deposits are a signal for an emergency transplant.

For papiopedilums in years when a full-fledged transplant is not carried out or when the quality and structure of the substrate is preserved, a partial change of the substrate is permissible. It is carried out more often than transplants – every six months, carefully, trying not to contact the roots and removing only the freely crumbling part of the soil and the upper contaminated layer.

The optimal period for transplanting is spring, from late March to early May.

These orchids require the typical specialized containers – orchid planters with multiple holes in the bottom and double containers, allowing even breathing of all roots and minimizing the risk of waterlogging of the substrate.

Pafiopedilums develop better in transparent containers, ceramic and glass, rather than plastic containers. Transparent containers allow you to freely view the root system. They do not grow in conventional indoor plant containers and are not suitable for block growing.

For papiopedilums, a standard orchid substrate is used. Complex soils are preferred over bark-only substrates. Allowable additives are charcoal, perlite, coarse sand, coarse coconut soil, expanded clay.

Certain types of paphiopedilums require careful monitoring of pH values, but they usually develop well in slightly acidic and neutral soils. When buying a substrate, it is better to check if there are “lady’s shoes” in the list of recommended types.

After transplanting, the plants are not watered, only increasing the air humidity for them to 60-70% and controlling the temperature at about 20-21 degrees. The first watering is carried out in 5-8 days.

Diseases, pests and problems in the cultivation of papiopedilum

This orchid is extremely sensitive to cold and improper care. Paphiopedilums shed their buds, they can stop flowering if too much moisture and too low temperatures.

“Lady’s shoes” often signal problems with the substrate due to changes in the leaves. If the leaves turn brown without yellowing, blackness spreads from the top in a kind of border, the plant signals an excessive salting of the substrate or the defeat of fungal diseases.

Of the diseases on the plant, botrytis is often found, causing damage to flowers and their fall, as well as all types of rot and fungal root infections. It is worth fighting any diseases immediately with an emergency transplant and fungicides, in case of severe damage – removing the damaged areas of the roots and drastically cutting off the plants.

Occasionally, these orchids become infected with scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites.

Adult shrubs of "lady's shoes" are divided when they grow too large or there is a desire to increase the collectionAdult shrubs of “lady’s shoes” are divided when they grow too large or there is a desire to increase the collection. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Karma Forester

Reproduction of “Venus shoes”

This is one of the easiest orchids to reproduce. Mature shrubs are simply divided when they grow too large or there is a desire to increase the collection.

It is wiser to multiply paphiopedilums, and not to increase the capacity for them all the time, because in very large groups the risk of plant infection is also increased. The minimum size is 2-3 rhizomes.

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Anna Evans

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