Paphippedilum fowlei orchid in bloom.
image by Dalton Holland Baptista:commons.wikimedia.org
Paohiopedilum orchids, commonly known as lady slipper orchids, are a family of more than 60 varietals, each producing a single dramatic bloom aloft a tall slim slightly furry stem. While paphiopedilums come in a range of colors, you will most commonly see them in some combination of white, oxblood, purple black, crisp pale green and white. Native to Southeastern Asia, they are grown in soil or bark and naturally bloom in the summer.
Plant paphiopedilums in a loose, easy-draining potting mix made for orchids. Look for it to contain coarse bark, pumice, sphagnum moss, vermiculite and orchid charcoal shards. Replace the mix every two years as it begins to break down. You will see the medium it seem to shrink in the pot and the root system will become increasingly visible. Gently pull the plant from its pot and brush off any planting material that has become stuck to or embedded in the roots. Repack the roots in new medium in a larger pot and water in well until the medium is wet and the excess water is drained out.
Give your paphiopedilum a home in a spot with overhead but bright diffused light with daily temperatures ranging from 55 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide fresh air circulation, and if the home is stuffy, a tiny fan can be used in the room to circulate air but not to blow directly on the orchid.
Water the orchid once a week by pouring tepid water through the pot several times and allowing it to drain out. In a dry home, provide a humid environment for the orchid by setting the pot on a tray of pebbles and water or mist frequently. Every other week after watering, pour through a diluted mixture of high nitrogen orchid fertilizer and water mixed according to the label directions and allow to drain through the roots.
Cut away the paphiopedilum bloom once it has faded and the stem begins to desiccate. Make the cut down at the base of the plant between the leaves and discard it.
Wipe the leaves down periodically with a clean towel that is slightly damp to remove dust, water spots and settled debris.