Cypripediums can be planted out in the
garden (shown in black) or grown in pots (shown in blue).
instructions are very general and suit most cypripediums which are readily
available. However, it is recommended that you ask for a culture leaflet when
purchasing a plant, because the rarer ones have very specific requirements
regarding soil type, pH etc.
All Cypripediums are hardy. Frost protection is not necessary. However,
Cyp. formosanum is one of the earliest flowering and has rather delicate
flowers, which benefit from a little protection.
Cypripediums enjoy good light, but must be shaded from strong sun. Plant
them in a position that gets sun in the morning or afternoon but none at midday.
The north side of a tree or bush is ideal.
A sheltered position is desirable, as developing
buds may be damaged by sudden spells of frost. Low growing plants such as ferns
and hostas make good companions.
pots: north, east or west facing
Cypripediums must never dry out, but should not be allowed to be water logged.
Therefore add a liberal amount of gravel (50%) to the planting site to aid
pots: water liberally when growing but during dormancy protect from rain and
keep just moist.
Cypripediums are moderate feeders and all
fertilisers should be diluted to about 1/4 strength of that indicated on the
pack. I use a liquid fertiliser throughout, switching between Seaweed
Extract and Fish Emulsion at every other watering.
should be done after flowering in the autumn.
Pots and Containers
Cypripediums need a good root run to develop strong shoots for next year. A 2
litre pot is a minimum, most adult cypripediums should be grown in 5 litre pots.
Fill the pot 1/3 with compost, making a cone shaped hill in the pot. Gently
arrange the cypripedium roots on top of the 'hill' and fill with compost all
round. Do not firm in. The top of the shoot should be 2 inches (5cm) below the
soil surface. Tap the pot on the ground to settle the compost and fill in more
until the shoot is just covered. Then finish off with a layer of grit, pumice
(if you can get it), Seramis or well rotted pine needles.
Tip: Use pots that have two tier or side
drainage. Bowls that have holes just in the bottom should be stood on gravel,
pebbles, Hortag or similar so that water can drain away easily. Never allow
cypripediums to get water-logged or the roots will rot and the plant will perish.
The compost mix should provide good drainage
yet retain sufficient moisture for the plants to thrive. This can be achieved in
many different ways, using a variety of components. In essence, compost for
cypripediums should contain slightly more drainage material than organic
A simple compost for
cypripediums consists of half and half:
- organic content such as a loose
mixture of fine bark, sieved oak or beech leaf mould, rotting pine needles
and perhaps some fibrous loam,
content for drainage such as coarse
grit (3 - 7mm), perhaps incorporating some pumice or super coarse perlite,
Notes on over-wintering: it is essential
that the plants are well drained but not dry during this period. Therefore, if you grow your cypripediums in
pots in a cold
frame leave the lights
on to keep out excess rain, but leave them slightly open to allow air circulation.
You may need to water them occasionally to stop the compost from drying out.
Cypripediums need protection from slugs and snails when the new shoots
emerge in spring. Vigilance is required here, or your treasured plant will be
gone before it gets a chance.
Cypripediums can be divided by splitting the dormant rhizomes, leaving one
or more shoots per division. It is recommended to split clumps when they
reach 20 or so shoots, or the clump may collapse and perish. The reasons for
this are not well understood but, using a precautionary principle, better safe
Make sure you label them
- it's so easy to forget...