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Planting Your Hardy Cypripedium Orchid

Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens
Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens

Cypripediums are among the most beautiful woodland perennials, but they are more exacting in their growing requirements than many of our perennials. However, Cyp’s do not like growing in containers and are very difficult to keep alive when grown in pots.  We recommend that you plant them as soon as possible using the following instructions. 

Cypripediums should only be planted in a bed of well-prepared compost-amended soil…unless you live in a part of the country where you naturally have rich, organic soil.  Instead of cramming the roots into a dug hold in the ground, dig a shallow 1” deep crater and spread the roots out flat…no scrimping on width.  The roots should then be covered with one inch of the amended soil. 

Water your plants immediately after planting.  As a general rule, the soil should be kept slightly moist, but well-drained, except in the case of C. reginae which can actually grow in bogs.  We aim for a pH of 6.0-6.5, but you can certainly be successful slightly outside of that range.  We do not recommend chemical salt-based fertilizers on hardy orchids…or on any plants for that matter.  A good balanced organic blend (such as Plant Tone) will work best. 

While cypripediums (especially the hybrids) can compete with less aggressive groundcovers, they cannot hold their own with more aggressive neighbors such as vinca, ivy, and Japanese pachysandra.  If you are planting your cypripediums in the dormant season, allow enough room so that they won’t be shaded out by larger deciduous perennials such as hostas when they emerge in spring.  We wish you good luck with your new orchid.