Cultivating Paphiopedilums can be easy provided that they are given the right conditions in which to grow.
The majority of paph. are tropical in origin, although a few are cooler growing with their habitat ranging from China through to Borneo, Philippines and Indonesia. With the exception of a few epiphytic and lithophytic species, the majority of the genus is terrestrial in their growth habit. Their home is the shaded dampness of the forest floor or leaf-mould filled rock crevices in areas where high humidity and rainfall ensure that their root system always remains moist. This then gives us the clue to the conditions needed to grow the genus.
A minimum of 11-12c during the winter and a maximum of 33-38c during the summer seem to satisfy most of the genus in South Australia.
Approximately 2000 ft candles of light is required, however the easiest way to tell if the light conditions are correct is to hold one’s hand about 450mm above the plant and if a slight shadow is cast then the light is close enough for satisfactory growth.
Needs to be between 50 –70 % in our hot dry summers.
Good air condition needs to be maintained to prevent stale pockets occurring within the growing environment. With these factors in the right proportions, that then gives us the right environment for growing Paphs all that is remains is a suitable mix and a correct watering program.
After many years of growing these delightful plants, the most suitable mix for my growing condition is a follows:- 80% graded pine or fir bark (6- 13mm) 10% Isolite foam granules, and 10% washed shell grit. With this mix I have been able to lengthen my repotting times up to 3 years depending on the quality of the bark. Watering with rainwater, which does not seem to deteriorate the bark as quickly as our tap water, also helps. Paphs need to be moist at all times, not soaking wet, and because they have no pseudobulbs should not be allowed to dry out completely at any time. Fertilize with Fish Emulsion, Nitrosol or any good fertilizer at half strength every week I try to alternate between a couple whenever I can to vary the diet somewhat.