Venus slipper (Paphiopedilum): species description, care and cultivation

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The lady’s slipper is a perennial evergreen plant with green, dark green or grayish-marble leaves up to 30 cm long. Each rosette of leaves produces one peduncle up to 40 cm tall, which can be single-flowered or multi-flowered. The flowers are from 7 to 12 cm in diameter, with a wide variety of colors: from white, purple and yellow to brown and green, spotted or striped flowers are often found.

  • Family: orchids (Orchidaceae).
  • Genus: Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum).
  • Homeland: tropical Asia (Philippines, India, Thailand).
  • Rhizome: thick, creeping.
  • Stem: Depending on the species (from terrestrial creeping to tall erect).
  • Leaves: of various shapes and sizes from light green to grayish-marble, up to 30 cm long.
  • Flowers: from 7 to 12 cm in diameter, with a wide variety of colors.
  • Flowering period: depends on the species.
  • Illumination: bright diffused light, partial shade.
  • Watering: always plentiful, warm water.
  • Content temperature: depending on the type and time of day from +30°С to +8°С.
  • Top dressing: in the summer months 1 time in 15 days.
  • In the open field, it blooms at 15-20 years of age after sowing. Remains viable for at least 30 years.

Legend of the Lady’s Slipper

In ancient Greek mythology, there is a legend about the slipper of Venus, or rather about the shoes of Venus, which turned into a beautiful flower.

A thunderstorm caught Venus and Adonis during a hunt, they hid from the rain in a secluded quiet place and indulged in love joys. A person passing by did not notice Venus with her lover, but saw her slipper of pure gold thrown on the ground. And as soon as the commoner reached out his hand to pick up the slipper, it instantly turned into a flower resembling a shoe.

Venus slipper: plant species

The plant includes in its genus about 50 species distributed in North and South America, Europe and Asia, where under natural conditions they grow from the forest-tundra to the tropics.

Flower venus slipper close-up in the photo.

Common types:

Venus slipper stemless (Cypripedium acaule) – with a ground stem and two folded, oblong or broadly oval, lanceolate, greenish-purple leaves up to 20 cm long and up to 8 cm wide. Peduncle up to 35 cm tall with a large, fragrant flower. Highly decorative, blooms in late spring-early summer.

Ramhead (Cypripedium arietinum) – up to 30 cm tall with thin, weak stems. The leaves are alternate, elliptical or lanceolate, up to 10 cm long and up to 5 cm wide. Flowers apical, solitary, small. Blooms in late spring.

Californian (Cypripedium californicum) – stem together with a flower up to 80 cm tall, strong with 3-4 leaves. The leaves are alternate, oval, acute, up to 10 cm long. The inflorescence is a sparse raceme, consisting of 4-12 flowers, with leaf-shaped, round bracts. Flowers up to 4 cm in diameter on long stalks. Petals and sepals of the same length (up to 1.5 cm), yellowish-green. Blooms in late spring.

Snow-white (Cypripedium candidum) – a plant with a short rhizome up to 30 cm tall. The lower part of the stem is covered with several scaly throats. Leaves (3-4 pieces) are lanceolate or elliptical, pointed or sharp, up to 12 cm long and up to 4 cm wide. The flowers are small, solitary, apical, up to 2 cm in diameter. Sepals are lanceolate, greenish, with purple spots. Flowering period late spring-early summer.

Clustered (Cypripedium fasciculatum) – up to 40 cm tall with a woolly pubescent stem, two opposite, broadly oval leaves located in the middle of the stem up to 10 cm long and up to 6 cm wide. The inflorescence is straight, stable, has from 1 to 4 greenish flowers. Bracts lanceolate. Petals and sepals lanceolate, with brown veins, up to 2 cm long.

Real lady’s slipper (Cypripedium calceolus L)

Perennial, rhizomatous, herbaceous plant of the orchid family, up to 50 cm tall. The real lady’s slipper has a thick, short, creeping rhizome, consisting of two internodes, preserved from each annual growth. Adventitious roots winding and long, up to 30 cm. Stem with brownish cups at the base, with short glandular hairs along the entire length. The leaves are alternate, elliptical, pointed on both sides, slightly hairy along the edge, up to 18 cm long and up to 8 cm wide. Flowers are bisexual, zygomorphic, with large leaf-shaped bracts. The tepals are red-brown, the swollen lip is light yellow. Ovary inferior, glandular-pubescent. The fruit is a box.

Venus slipper large-flowered (Cypripedium macranthon)

It is a plant with a thick shortened rhizome and thin, winding thread-like roots. Stem up to 45 cm high with brownish shoes at the base, higher with 3-4 glandular-hairy sessile leaves, with stem-bearing bases, oval and pointed up to 15 cm long and up to 8 cm wide.

Flowers solitary with large leaf-like bracts. Perianth violet or lilac-pink with dark veins. The tepals are divergent. Lip up to 7 cm long, strongly swollen, with a small opening, the edges of which are wrapped inward, forming an expanded rim. Two stamens, the third turned white with purple-purple patches of staminodes up to 1.5 cm long. The tie is not twisted. The stigma is corymbose. Venus slipper large-flowered blooms in June-July.

Venus slipper spotted (Cypripedium guttatum) or speckled

A small plant with a creeping long rhizome. Stem 15 to 30 cm tall. The leaves are elliptical, pointed up to 12 cm long, hairy below along the veins and edge. Bracts ovate-lanceolate, leaf-shaped.

The upper outer tepal is pointed, elliptical-ovate, up to 3 cm long, white or with purple-pink spots. The lower one, densely fused from two leaves, is greenish, glandular-pubescent, up to 2 cm long. Lateral tepals are bare, white with large purple-pink patches. Ovary spindle-shaped, densely and finely glandular-pubescent. Venus slipper blooms from late May to mid-June.

Growing orchids: lady’s slipper

The flower is very rare and very difficult to propagate and grow. The whimsical flower loves shade and is unstable to winds, it must be covered and protected from pests such as snails or aphids. The lady’s slipper prefers growing in a complex substrate consisting of sphagnum, bark, charcoal with the addition of chalk or dolomite flour. With room content, you can increase the proportion of sphagnum moss for greater moisture capacity. A coarser substrate is placed at the bottom of the orchid pot , and moisture-intensive and fine is closer to the surface.

The roots of the plant develop horizontally, so you need a wide pot or bowl .

For normal growth and flowering, the flower must create the appropriate conditions:

  • for heat-loving plant species, the air temperature during daylight hours should be in the range from +22 to +32°С, at night from +16 to +18°С, but not lower than +15°С;
  • for species and varieties with monophonic leaves, the temperature during the day is from +16 to +22°C, at night from +8 to +10°C, but not lower than +6°C.
  • not to allow even a short-term drop in temperature below + 5 ° C – leads to the death of the plant;
  • it is necessary to provide bright lighting (not direct sunlight) of the flower for 12-14 hours a day.

Venus slipper: plant care

The flower does not have storage organs – regular, plentiful watering is required to keep the substrate in a constantly wet state. The water should be at room temperature and should not be watered at the base of the stem, which can cause rot.

The lady’s slipper requires regular care (1 time in 15-20 days) top dressing in the summer months with a weak solution of complex mineral fertilizer applied with water during irrigation.

To regulate salts in the substrate, it is recommended to water once a month with distilled water, after which you need to feed the plant.

The flower propagates by dividing the bush during transplantation.

Transplantation is carried out as needed (usually 1 time in 1-3 years), while special care must be taken to exclude the possibility of damage to the roots, which can lead to disease or death of the plant.

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