September 21, 2009

Autumnal Equinox - Ladyslippers and Rain Lilies

Paphiopedilum 'Magic Lantern'
(P. micranthum 'Big Al' x P. delenatii 'Ruby'
A slightly deformed flower ( one half is actually missing, but when shot at this angle, you cannot see it).Something must have happened to the flower bud while in spike. Still, this new cross was appealing to me last year, when I purchased the plant at the New England Orchid Society Show since I felt that this Paph looked at bit like our native pink Ladyslipper, Cypripedium acaulis. Ladyslipper orchids, you will find, generally fall into three genus ( Which, for those of yer intimidated by orchids, is the first name in the latin name which is capitalized, the species half, is always lower case. The cross, or the name that the breeder has given the cross, will be in parenthesis). The three genus commonly referred to as ladyslippers are Paphiopedilum ( Paph's for short, in case you search for them on eBay, these are usually topical or sub-tropipcal), Cypripedium, ( usually you can think of yellow or pink ladyslippers that are wildflowers in temperate climates, Cyp's are hardier slippers, such as those grown in the garden and woodland in North America) and then there are the last tropical forms, known as Phrag's or Phragmapedium, similar to Paphs, but usually with more flowers per stem, and some and very long petalstha twist and hang, downwards. eBay is a great source for Paph's and Phrag's, if you want to load your windowsill up for the winter.

Tropical Ladyslippers, like Paphiopedilum are highly collectable by orchid specialists, but I do wonder why they are not more commonly grown by ordinary folk, for these cool growers are as easy to grow as the more commonly available Moth Orchids, or Phalaenopsis one finds at home centers and florist shops. With around 20,000 species, Orchids are the largest Family in the plant kingdom, and still, we only can find less than 5 available at retail locations. If I was to recomend easy orchids, especially to those in North America ( New England, in my case) I would suggest Cymbidiums, Paphiopedillums ( the Lady Slippers) and Miltonia species and the many hybrids of all of these. I have yet to be able to bloom a Phalaenopsis from Home Depot, however. Besides, they bore me.

A Rain Lily, or Zepharanthes blooms in a pot on the deck.

I move pots around all of the time, and the Rain Lilys, or Zepharanthes always surprise me. These ridiculously easy-to-grow bulbs were purchased 7 years ago, and I just keep them in the same pot, with hardly any care, besides the rain. They cannot freeze, so I keep the pots dry in the greenhouse all winter, and in the summer, I just place the pots outdoors, where the grassy foliage emerges early in the year. Every fall, the flowers surprise me since they emerge on an unpredictable schedule, usually after rain, the experts say, but I find that temperature and day length may play a more important role, since it has rained here ALL summer, and no blooms. As the pots bloom, I move them into arranged displays along with whatever plants in containers happen to look good at the moment. Here is a sampling I threw together last evening, with little thought. I think I could have found better companions to assemble together if I wasn't barefoot, but the gravel is sharp, and I was too lazy to go find sneakers.


  1. Anonymous10:10 AM

    Cyps, Paphs, and Phrags... Among my faves. Excellent post, as always.

  2. Our Zepharanthes candida has just started as well, but in the garden beds. Seems late this year. Certainly nothing in August. But then again, it has been a dry August and continues to be. Like your container arrangement. Nice textures. Very clean looking.

  3. Beautiful photos! I agree about the container arrangement - very lovely :)


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