A Brief Overview of the Genus Paphiopedilum

Author: Celeste Booth1 Comment


Paphiopedilum orchids (pronounced paff-ee-oh-PED-ih-lum) are excellent plants to grow side by side with the Phalaenopsis plants. Known as paphs or more commonly “lady slippers”, this orchid plant requires low light and warm/intermediate temperature preference. Paphs are unique in appearace. The sophisticated, waxy pouch and striking top sepal, combined with a variety of spots, stripes, hairs, twists, and even “warts,” on green, brown, red, yellow, pink, and white (even approaching the elusive black) flowers, make these a winning choice.

Naming and Distribution

The name Paphiopedilum comes from Paphos (a city in Cyprus and sacred place of the goddess Aphrodite) and Pedilon (ancient Greek for “slipper”). Paphiopedilums are native to much of Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Indian subcontinent, and southern China.

Plant Identification

Paphiopedilums are sympodial orchids, yet lack pseudobulbs. The flowers are easily identifiable by the lip that forms a cup shape, a petal on each side, a lateral sepal, and a pronounced dorsal sepal. The leaves often have a dappled pattern on them and can be short or long, depending on the species. Flowers come in an abundance of colors and patterns, and are almost aways multi-colored.

General Care RequirementsLady Slipper

LIGHT: Paphs require lower light than some other varieties, and do well in an east window or shaded south or west windows.

TEMPERATURE: Ideal temperatures for Paphiopedilums are 75-85ºF during the day, and 60-65ºF at night.

WATER: Watering frequency will depend on your potting medium. For bark, water more frequently as this will dry out faster. For moss, water when the top layer feels dry. Paphs do not possess pseudobulbs to store water, so they will need to be watered more frequently than those orchids who do store water.

POTTING: Re-potting only needs to be done every two or so years, when the potting medium breaks down and decomposes. Depending on your plant, a four or 6 inch pot will be sufficient.

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One response on “A Brief Overview of the Genus Paphiopedilum”

  1. Carrie says:

    I received a makuli “Mark Goodsell” as a gift and the bottom leaves appear to be dieing. Am I watering too much, not enough? I have it on my desk at work, I sit in front of a huge window, water maybe 2x/wk, am not misting it. I’d like to save this beautifal plant, any tips welcomed. Thanks.

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