yellow lady slippers - advice sought

debstuart1(z4NH)June 17, 2008


I have this new and wonderful thing in my garden and am seeking advice about nurturing these. They showed up under an azalea last summer - if there was one there before, I did not see it. Now this spring there are even more. I have been very careful not to disturb them as clearly they like the spot. But the azalea is growning and there are other things in the vicinity which are vigorous spreaders, like lily of the valley and common perrenial geranium.

My thought is...keep an eye that these things don't encroach by "weeding" around the lady slipper colony. I have also trimmed back a couple of the lowest branches of the azalea as they were getting all tangled up w. the l. slippers. Did as minimal a job as possible.

Well...perhapsn I am doing the right things, but just wanted those of you who have more experience to weigh in!



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We have about a half dozen groupings of yellow slippers in our garden. They have thrived over the years and have up to 40 blooms in each gathering.

We give them special priority. We keep other plants about six inches away. We are especially diligent in keeping rhizome spreading plants at a distance.

The slippers need to receive a 'decent' amount of light to bloom in large numbers. Being shaded a bit won't hurt them but if not enough light, they grow fine but don't bloom.

We give ours a couple feedings of compost each season and make sure they are watered in dry times. On really hot days we'll provide them a bit of shade and extra water.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 12:42AM
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I had a wild colony up in the mountains, but as the trees grew, they were shaded out and disappeared. The ones at my house are still here but did not bloom last year, due to the drought, I think. Unfortunately, deer sometimes like them. I also have the pink slippers, and rabbits and voles attack them. I am trying to be somewhat natural, so I have the "let live" approach with everything but my trilliums. I have sprayed critter repellants this year, and it helped a great deal. I still don't want to shoot Bambi and his friends, but hubbie is ready to be Elmer Fudd and eliminate them.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 6:06PM
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Thanks! I will baby these and enjoy them. Do you think they were in this spot and just bloomed last year because of compost I was using...or better light or water? Or are there other ways they come to a new spot? I know nothing about these but am honored they have joined my garden!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 10:00PM
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lemecdutex(z15 CA Petaluma)

Deb, I'm sure they must have been there already if you didn't plant them. There are any number of reasons they're showing up now, perhaps they were not mature before, perhaps your care has made things better for them, or a combination of the two. Whatever it is, that is a really lucky and wonderful thing to have in your garden.

I have two types of lady slippers I brought into my garden, Cypripedium reginae, and Cyp. formosanum. The reginae bloomed this year, and was just wonderful. I wasn't sure if we have the right conditions to grow them (enough winter for one thing), but it came back up this Spring and was more than double the size of the plant last year. The other one, however, has stayed pretty small and weak looking.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 2:00AM
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the formosanum is a smaller growing plant. you may want to check to see how deep it is planted and raise it some and to help get it cooler in winter do not use mulch on it.
Petaluma may be too warm in summer so check out your area for the coolest spot that is shaded. I can appreciate this difficulty as I use water to cool off potted plants, including the cyps when I grew them-none at this time. Perhaps an elevated bed that drains fasts and water heavily during summer to help cool may work?? If you can grow Trilliums then the orchid should do well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cyp. formosanum

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 8:01PM
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lemecdutex(z15 CA Petaluma)

Hi terrestrial man! I don't think drainage is the problem, it's in the best area of our property soil-wise, 20 years of leaf mold. I think the real problem with my formosanum is that they were smallish to begin with. I do grow about 5 or 6 species of trilliums, and doesn't C. reginae need more chill than formosanum? We get in the mid to upper teens in winter, and about 90 nights below freezing every winter (I'm in a cold spot), plus our nights are in the low 50s or below year-round. Anyway, I love these terrestrial orchids, and would love to get some of the California natives going here, there's a Cal-native ladyslipper native to the county I live in (Sonoma). But, I've never found any sources for any of the California ones.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 12:40PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

"I've never found any sources for any of the California ones."

Planteck has had them in the past. Roberts may have had them as well. Don't see them on either site now but worth keeping an eye on.

I think they need really specific growing conditions to do well. They are found in the same conditions as Darlingtonia I believe.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 12:43PM
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