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Thread: Getting into Cypripediums

  1. #1
    Your Real Mom ErrorEN's Avatar
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    cyclopse Getting into Cypripediums

    Hi everyone,
    2 years ago my family and I moved to the east coast and my mom painstakingly dragged along her huge tropical orchid collection with her from California. 2 years later her orchid collection has slowly withered away. Between the harsh winter and rampant scale infestations courtesy of the ants living in her pots, she's managed to hold on the the basic grocery store Phalaenopsis and Cymbidiums as well as some other large plants that I can't ID since they haven't flowered in 2 years.

    This year she seems to have given up the ghost, allowing her plants to sit out in full sun at the side of the house. Only reason they're still alive is probably due to the constant rain around here. They're still sending up new shoots but I doubt she's still interested in them.

    Anyhow, sob story aside, I recently learned of temperate orchids via browsing a random nursery catalog while at the dinner table and Cypripediums seemed to spark her interest (price tag aside..). In an effort to cheer her up a bit, I would like to get into this hobby myself, and somewhere down the line, teach her the ropes and then pass whatever collection I can gather on to her.

    I'd like to figure out what are generally the easiest species/hybrids to grow for beginners as well as some tips for cultivation that I may have missed while Googling. Ideally I'd like to grow them in pots during active growth and then bury the pots during the winter so that they can get the cold temps they need. If it's relevant, I live in Zone 6B.

    Thank you to anyone who can help!
    Last edited by ErrorEN; 08-08-2015 at 11:26 AM.
    How can gravity be so strong if it doesn't even lift?
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    carnivorous plants of the world -- unite! DragonsEye's Avatar
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    Why grow them potted? Cyps are typically best off planted in the ground based on conversations I have had with growers of same. (Haven't bothered with them myself as I live in a third floor apt.) Wayne from Roberts Flower Supply ( http://www.orchidmix.com/index.htm ) may be able to give you some ideas on cyps that may work well for your area. Would probably be helpful -- no matter who you ask -- to be gather info regarding your yard's soil type, amount of sun, zone, etc. beforehand.

    As for your mom's other orchids, I have 60 or more orchids in my apartment -- and my winters are grayer and harsher than yours. Your having changed climes so drastically may have been somewhat stressful on her orchids, but they certainly can be grown in your area. There is, however, a new learning curve for her to tackle -- growing her tropical orchids may require changes in media, and watering regime for example.
    "Blessed are the cracked….
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    Cthulhu138's Avatar
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    C.parviflorum, C.reginae and hybrids there of tend to be readily available, easy to grow (as far as Cypripedium go) and the least spendy. I use a mix of lfs, peat, humous, pine bark fines, buckwheat hulls and pelletized lime or crushed oyster shells although a simpler mix of peat or humous, decomposed granite and pelletized lime or oyster shells would probably work just as well. Media should be kept damp at all times but should be well drained. These 2 species won't need a burial or any sort of special care to survive a Zone 6 winter since they're both hardy at least to Zone 3. Throw some leaves from the yard over them and they should be just fine.

    You'll want to buy your plants in fall or spring while they're dormant, they acclimate much easier this way. Both of the species I've mentioned are fairly tolerant of sun but direct mid day sun should be avoided.

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    Your Real Mom ErrorEN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DragonsEye View Post
    Why grow them potted? Cyps are typically best off planted in the ground based on conversations I have had with growers of same.
    I'm not terribly confident on how they'll do in the ground. On the south side of my house (probably not a good spot due to lack of shade) the "default" soil has been mixed with a bunch of Miracle Gro/ other unknown soil ingredients so at this point I have no idea what's in it. On the east side the soil is mostly clay, but I've dumped a bunch of my used peat moss there so it is acidic (which I've read these plants like!) Would submerging the pots in the ground all year be a better choice? Or no pots at all? I'd feel better if I knew exactly what was in the soil.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cthulhu138 View Post
    C.parviflorum, C.reginae and hybrids there of tend to be readily available, easy to grow (as far as Cypripedium go) and the least spendy. I use a mix of lfs, peat, humous, pine bark fines, buckwheat hulls and pelletized lime or crushed oyster shells although a simpler mix of peat or humous, decomposed granite and pelletized lime or oyster shells would probably work just as well. Media should be kept damp at all times but should be well drained. These 2 species won't need a burial or any sort of special care to survive a Zone 6 winter since they're both hardy at least to Zone 3. Throw some leaves from the yard over them and they should be just fine.

    You'll want to buy your plants in fall or spring while they're dormant, they acclimate much easier this way. Both of the species I've mentioned are fairly tolerant of sun but direct mid day sun should be avoided.
    Thanks for the tips, Johnny! C. reginae looks like an attractive choice.
    How can gravity be so strong if it doesn't even lift?
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