Apartment plants

Slipper flowers

Slipper flowers

Some species of orchids have very particular flowers, with a curved lip, closed up to form a kind of shoe; the orchids with cupped labellum belong to three main genera, the genus paphiopedilum, widespread in the tropical areas of central and southern Asia, the genus epipactis, whose flowers are present in Asia and in Europe, and the genus cypripedium, whose species they are widespread in most of the northern hemisphere, including Europe.
These are terricolous orchids, therefore they are cultivated in a slightly different soil than the one in which orchids are usually planted, and cultivation is certainly not easy; on the market in nurseries you can find species and hybrids of orchids belonging to these two genera, often quite easy to cultivate, although they are usually chosen by collectors and orchid enthusiasts.

The paphiopedilum

As we said the paphiopedilum come from Asia; some species originate from areas with a cool climate, from central Aia; other species are tropical instead. In general all the paphiopedilum species from collectors are cultivated in a mild climate, with maximums not exceeding 30 * C, and minimums not less than 5-8 ° C. Although in fact the non-tropical species could find a place in the garden, or in a cold greenhouse, especially in the areas of Italy where winters are mild and temperate.
The paphiopedilum are devoid of pseudobulbs, and develop in tufts, in which each mature bud bears a single flower, carried by a long, erect, dark-colored stem. The foliage is bright green, stiff and fleshy, and develops like a fan, directly from the plant's collar, which is therefore devoid of stem.
The flowers are large, green or white, with purple or brown spots.
The cultivation is quite simple: the paphiopedilum need diffused brightness, not excessive, and must be kept away from direct sunlight, especially during the hot summer days; the humidity must be constant, but not excessive, it is generally sufficient to slightly moisten the substrate, avoiding to keep it soaked, but also avoiding to leave it dry for prolonged periods of time; sporadically fertilizer is supplied for flowering plants, strongly diluted, given that the roots fear the excessive presence of mineral salts in the soil.


Epipactis are terricolous orchids of European origin; they prefer damp, cool and very bright locations, and can also withstand direct sunlight, but only if they can enjoy a good moisture content. They produce green, brown or white shoe flowers on long stems.


Reeds The cypripedium are predominantly terricolous species, they are lively orchids, therefore they develop starting from spring until late summer, when the aerial part dries up and the plant goes into vegetative rest; there are many species of cypripedium, most of them develop as alpine perennials, that is, they prefer bright locations, with moist soil, and other environmental humidity; they fear direct sunlight and excessive heat, so in summer it is advisable to grow them in a cool place, away from heat and sun.

Flowers scarpetta: Land and exposure

As we said these three kinds of orchids have development in the ground, in any case it is good to consider their place of origin; even if they develop in the earth, generally this happens in the undergrowth, where the soil is mainly composed of dried leaves, peat, pieces of wood or bark; therefore we can place our orchids in a substratum formed by the common soil for orchids, made with bits of bark, sphagnum fiber and other vegetable fibers, to which we will add equal amounts of universal peaty soil; in this way we will obtain a soft and very porous soil, suitable for the development of the thin roots of our orchids. Remember to water these plants regularly, this does not mean to flood the vessels every day, but to supply small amounts of water every 2-3 days; thinning out the water when the climate is cold and intensifying it when the climate is warm. In the case of the cypripedium when the plant is in vegetative rest the waterings will instead be suspended completely. Even when we are not watering let's remember to keep the climate quite humid, vaporizing the foliage, with demineralized water; when we carry out this operation we avoid in any way to wet the scarpetta flowers, which could be stained or withered early. If we want to cultivate a paphiopedilum but we do not know the place of origin we keep in mind that plants with green foliage generally come from areas with cool climate, similar to that of southern Italy; instead the species with spotted or striped foliage are generally the tropical ones, which therefore fear the cold.