Paphiopedilum Orchid

Slipper Orchid

Paphiopedilums are also known as a the “Slipper Orchids” as a result of their pouch (center section of flower).

They are easy to grow and are found throughout Asia in countries such as India and the Philippines.


Side angle picture of flower

There are more than 80 different species (plus many many hybrids) of paphiopedilum and many of them thrive in the high hills of Northern India and even the lowlands of the Philippines.

They grow in a range of different colors and forms. Due to their ease of growing they are extremely popular with many people being lifelong admirers.

They are known as the slipper orchid and can grow to a height of around 15-30 cm. They form part of a group known as terrestrial orchids which means that they grow in the ground but unlike other terrestrial orchids they do not produce pseudobulbs which are found at the base of the stems.

The Paphiopedilum are also split into two cultural groups. The first is the warm-growing group that has mottled like leaves which are great for beginners and the second group is the cool-growing group that has plain-green leaves.

Foliage: The Paphiopedilum is relatively small in size and its leaves are firm with a waxy feel to them. Their colors vary form a shiny green to being stunningly mottled. The leaves take on a fan shaped tuft and from the middle of each new growth a scape rises upwards with several flowers.

Flowering: The flowers of the Paphiopedilum measure around 2 to 5 inches in diameter and they come in a variety of colors. The flowers remain on the plant for around six weeks or more and their blooming season is generally from mid-autumn to spring, however, this is not a rule that is set in stone.

Many of the hybrids bloom around twice a year and in many cases more. When it comes to flowering only one flower spike is found on every new growth which means that once the flowers die a new growth will have to mature before it flowers again. However, some slipper orchids can have as many as ten flowers on each spike. The paphiopedilum produces some stunning flowers that vary in color and scents and colors such as vivid yellow can be found.


Origin: Asia - South East Asia
Names: Slipper Orchid (common name). Paphiopedilum (botanical - scientific).
Max Growth (approx): 15-30 cm tall.
Poisonous for pets: Non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Close up picture of flower Close up picture of slipper orchid flower with red pouch

Slipper Orchid Care

Temperature: As the paphiopedilum comes in two groups- warm and cool, the warm group prefer temperatures around 70-80ºF (21-26.5ºC) during the day and around 55-65ºF (12.5-18ºC) during the night. The cool group prefer daytime temperatures of around 65-70ºF (18-21ºC) and night time temperatures of around 55-62ºF (12.5-16.5ºC).
Light: A diminished light is preferred by the paphiopedilum and a window that faces the east or west is ideal, however, a south facing window is fine as long as the sunlight is not directly hitting the plant.
Watering: It is vital to water the Paphiopedium in the morning as this allows the water to evaporate from the foliage throughout the day which helps to prevent problems such as bacteria and fungus rot. As the plant is nearing dryness is the right time to water it and rainwater is preferred but it is advised to not use softened water. Watering should take place at intervals of around 3-7 days.
Soil: An orchid potting mix will suffice but 2 part fine-grade fir bark, 1 part perlite or sand and 1 part sphagnum moss will work just as well.
Re-Potting: The best time to re-pot is during the spring or early summer as well as autumn when the temperatures are warmer. For plants in 3.25” pots or larger a medium grade orchid bark mix will work well. Those plants that have a large number of growths can be divided, whilst it is advised to pot the oldest growth close to the rim of the pot which will allow another two years growth.
Fertilizer: Paphiopedilum are not heavy feeders and can be given a quarter strength balanced liquid fertilizer.
Humidity: Paphs enjoy humidity and dislike dry air. To improve humidity in the home for this plant place the plant pot on top of a tray of pebbles. The tray should have water within it evaporating under the plant.
Propagation: Once the plant has flowered, separate an offshoot that has a solid root system and has established on the edge of a large clump, then pot individually.

Potential Problems

  • Flowers have small, brown, circular spots: This could be petal blight which is a fungal disease and this can be dealt with by removing the infected blossoms and improving the circulation of air.

  • Plant does not bloom: This could be down to incorrect temperatures, poor light and improper fertilization.

  • Tips of leaf turn brown: This can be caused by a low humidity, over-fertilizing and incorrect watering.

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