Articles About Orchids
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Articles About Orchids
   In the orchid world, it is no surprise to find species of every exotic shape. But there is one that is not only exotic, it actually appears to be a copy of another very popular orchid. Many of you may be familiar with the "Slipper Orchid" Paphiopedilum with their funny shoe-shaped lip. The orchids I am going to tell you about are actually relatives of the Paphiopedium orchids. These New World "Slipper orchids" are the Phragmipedium Often mistaken for the Asian Paphiopediums.
Phragmipedium besseae
   The blossoms of the Phragmipediums are what makes these orchids one of the top most wanted orchids in the hobbyist collections. Unlike the usual Paphiopedium, the petals of some of the Phragmipedium species such as the fantastic Phragmipedium wallisii and Phragmipedium caudatum have blossom petals reaching lengths of over 32" (81 cm)! To be different, Uropedium lindenii has three petals rather than a slipper "pouch."
   Still others, such as Phragmipedium pearcei, have pretty twisted petals and a puffy-looking pouch. Phragmipedium besseae, one of the most recently dicovered species (discovered in 1981 in Peru), shown here has blossoms that are a brilliant fluorescent red!

   Many Phragmipedium produces blooms all year round or at least most of the year. Colors range from bright red, orange to deep purple, tans and greens. Phragmipediums are referred to as "New World Lady Slippers" because they are all naturally found in Mexico and throughout central and northern South America. They grow in many different areas and climates. Phragmipedium longifolium, pearcei, and klotschyanum, for example, may grow submerged during the rainy season in their area. You can find Phragmipedium caudatum high up in the trees while still other species can be found growing low on rocks.
   The culture requirements for Phragmipediums are not really difficult and I am sure you can find one that will adapt to your growing environment. The following are general growing conditions. You should, however, always check the culture for your specific species to ensure you provide a happy home for it.
   This is most important. Phragmipediums demand clean, soft water. Rainwater, distilled water or water treated through reverse osmosis is a must.

s hate water that has high pH so you must keep the pH below 5.5 if possible but. there are some that will tolerate a higher pH level, so it is best to check your particular plant requirements.

   You can easily test and adjust water pH levels using a tropical fish aquarium water pH meter test/treatment kit available at some pet stores and most good aquarium shops.
CAUTION: The kit may contain toxic chemicals.
    Read and carefully follow all directions that are provided with the kit to avoid injury
   Never let these orchids dry between watering. They require copious amounts of water and enjoy keeping their "feet" wet in a saucer beneath the pot. This is one orchid that you really can't over water. Again, some species such as such as Phragmipedium wallisii and Phragmipedium lindenii do like it drier than others, so check the requirements for your particular orchid.
   Fertilize heavy in the spring and less in the fall and winter. Never use urea-containing fertilizer.
  This will depend on the type you are growing. Most Phragmipediums require more light than Phalaenopsis species although some, such as Phragmipedium besseae and Phrag. pearcei, may survive under more subdued light. Most will do well at 2000-3000 foot-candles of light. Check the culture sheet for each species to find the correct lighting requirement.
   Generally day temperature in the 70's (21 oC) to 80's (27 oC) and at nights from the 50's (10 oC) to low 60's (16 oC) will be enjoyed by most Phragmipediums.