The easiest orchids to grow
Looking for an easy houseplant with beautiful flowers that can grow in low light? Grow lady's slipper orchids.
Paphiopedilum orchids are one of the easiest orchids to grow at home.Skip to next paragraph
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I am fortunate in living a mere 30-minute drive from one of the largest and oldest under-glass orchid growers in the Midwest – Orchids by Hausermann in Villa Park, Ill. Its 3-1/2-acre range of interconnected greenhouses is home to the largest collection of Cattleya orchids in the United States, plus an immense selection of many, many different orchid species
An open house held the last weekend in February attracts thousands of people from all parts of the nation. Yet for us fortunate “locals,” the place is an orchid-filled fairyland seven days a week, year-round.
My first visit to Hausermann’s decades ago gave birth to a passion for a very specific orchid – tropical Asian lady’s slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum, pronounced paf-ee-o-PED-ih-lum), sometimes called lady slipper orchids.
At the first sight of these wonders, I was smitten. Remember the famous line from the movie, “Jerry Maguire”: “You had me at hello ”?
Well, you can apply it here. That first other-worldly Paphiopedilum (also known as a Paph) blossom I encountered had me at first glance!!
It wasn’t that I thought them to be so beautiful. It was more in the vein that they are so weird-looking that I thought them simply gorgeous.
These captivating bloomers come in myriad sizes, shapes, and colors. The unusual blossoms have a bizarre and immense pouchlike lip (or slipper-shaped pouch), often with ornately covered spots or stripes (sometimes even hairs and warts) that in many cases are in a contrasting color to the rest of the flower.
Many have long, flaring side petals and an incredibly showy dorsal sepal (that’s the top part of the blossom, to you and me). Flowers have a waxy texture and will last for six weeks or longer on the plant.
Orchids vary in temperature preferences
The straplike leathery leaves of Paphs can be either dark green or mottled. Incredibly, leaf color indicates the plant’s temperature preferences, so it’s hard to go wrong. Generally, the lady’s slipper orchid will be comfortable at any temperature that is comfortable for us humans, such as a range of 55 to 75 degrees F. (13 to 24 C).
Solid green leaves prefer cooler temperatures -- 55 F. (13 C) at night, 60 to 65 F. (15 to 18 C) during the day. Those with mottled leaves need more warmth, and are generally comfortable 10 degrees warmer.