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Are they hard to grow?
I'm new to slippers. What should I get?
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I'm new to slippers. What should I get?

If you’re new to slipper orchids, and want an easy-to-grow plant, I would suggest starting with a hybrid.  Hybrids are produced by crossing different natural species with each other, or with other hybrids.  They typically grow more vigorously than species (i.e., species that grow in the wild), and make an excellent starting point for a collection of slipper orchids.


One kind of hybrid is known as a “maudiae” type (i.e., hybrids made originally with the species P. lawrenceanum and P. callosum, or ones that look like them).  Generally these are easy to grow and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions.  I have had one that has been abused, neglected, overexposed, waterlogged, and dehydrated, but it continues to bloom every year, holding its flower for over two months.


Another kind of hybrid is the “complex” hybrid, which are descendants of hybrids many generations removed from the natural species.  The range of color and form is tremendous, and most do not resemble their species progenitors at all, a living testament to the ability of orchid breeders.  They typically display the vigor common to hybrids, and have blooms that in some cases can last two or even three months.  In addition, the flowers have a lot of “substance” – the flower tissue is waxy and thick rather than papery like most flowers.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe that they are real living flowers!


If you’d prefer to get natural species, here are some suggestions:


P. spicerianum is always a favorite.  It grows and blooms in normal household conditions, remain compact, and rewards you with a cute, colorful flower.


Another easy-to-grow species is P. henryanum, a small plant from China that produces a delightful, colorful flower with strong purple coloration and spotting.


P. moquetteanum or P. primulinum.  These are easy to grow, and bloom sequentially, putting out one flower after another on an extending flower stem.  They can remain in continuous bloom for many months.


If you’d like to get a showy multifloral, P. lowii is a good choice.  They have long inflorescences (i.e., flower stem) with very colorful, spotted flowers that spread out. 


Just keep in mind that water quality is important.  If you don’t know your water quality, and want to be safe, use distilled water or collected rainwater for your orchids.  A visit to your local orchid society will enable you to meet other local growers for advice on the suitability of the water in your area.  Be sure to let the water freely drain through at each watering.


If you’re new to orchids, the best place to get one is at an orchid show or your local society meeting, when the plants are in bloom.  Or check with us – we may have something you’d like in bloom.  Be sure to inspect the plant for healthy leaves, a strong root system, and the absence of pests or infection.

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