The Care of Paphiopedilum


Paphiopedilum (paff-ee-oh-PED-ih-lum) is a member of the orchid family also called a lady's slipper orchid. They come in a variety of sizes and blossom colors and make attractive houseplants. Most varieties of paphiopedilum are relatively easy to cultivate indoors, according to the American Orchid Society. Though like its fussier cousins, paphiopedilum still needs to be cared for attentively. Provide consistent food, water and fertilizer and your paphiopedilum will grow and bloom happily in your home.

Step 1

Grow your paphiopedilum in a 4- to 6-inch plastic pot filled with a potting medium listed for use with orchids; ideally one that contains fir bark, charcoal and perlite mixture.

Step 2

Re-pot your orchid every other year or whenever the bark media begins to decompose or the orchid's new growth reaches the edges of the pot.

Step 3

Spread a 1/2 inch of dolomite or crushed oyster shells on top of your orchid's potting medium to provide extra calcium. Replace the layer when it disappears. If your water has a high calcium content, this is unnecessary.

Step 4

Keep the potting medium slightly moist. Check it with your finger frequently. When it has begun to dry out but is still slightly damp, water it early in the morning. Use roughly the same amount of water as the volume of the pot. Allow the plant to drain for a 1/2 hour in the sink. Do not leave standing water in the pot's drainage tray.

Step 5

Fertilize your paphiopedilum every other watering with a balanced houseplant fertilizer (ideally one prescribed for orchids) diluted to an eighth strength in spring and summer. Cut back to fertilizing every fourth watering with a quarter-strength fertilizer in fall and winter.

Step 6

Provide your paphiopedilum with medium light levels. If possible, place your paphiopedilum where it will receive two to three hours of eastern or western light daily. If its leaves turn yellowish-green and limp, it is receiving too much light. If the leaves turn darker green, the plant is not receiving enough light, according to the Canadian Orchid Congress.

Step 7

Keep the humidity levels around your paphiopedilum high. Place a humidifier in the room if possible (humidity levels should remain between 50 and 70 percent). If that is not possible, fill the paphiopedilum tray beneath its pot with small pebbles and water. As the water evaporates it will increase the humidity in the air directly adjacent to the plant. Paphiopedilum blooms more slowly in lower humidity levels.

Step 8

Keep the paphiopedilum's temperature between 60 and 80 degrees F.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use fertilizers that contain urea.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic pot with drainage holes and tray
  • Potting medium
  • Fertilizer
  • Watering can
  • Dolomite
  • Crushed oyster shells
  • Pebbles
  • Humidifier


  • The Canadian Orchid Congress: Paphiopedilum
  • Forestview Gardens: Paphiopedilum The Ultimate House Plant
  • American Orchid Society: First Rays-Paphiopedilum
Keywords: paphiopedilum care, water paphiopedilum, fertilize paphiopedilum

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.