pink lady's slippers

bcubed(6TN)September 20, 2005

Hi... I was wondering if anyone has any ideas about tansplanting pink lady's slippers. I have (literally) thousands growing on a back paddock that we have never used. Any info on their transplantation, growing conditions, etc. would be greatly appreciated. I know that they have some sort of symbiotic relationshi[ with a fungus, and that they are very difficut to grow, but I am interested in tryig them in my woodfland garden. (PH of soil in woodland garden~4.0) BBBunn

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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

You have the right PH which is the hard part. Shade, well drained woodland soil, get all the roots when transplanting (place roots horizontal w/ root tips down), no tap water or fertilizer, you can mulch w/ pine needles if you want but don't have to, you should be ok. Do it now while they are dormant.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 9:39AM
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A comprehensive guide to lady slipper transplanting is available at the New England Wildflower Society web site.

Here is a link that might be useful: look here

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 12:34PM
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slipperlover440(z3 AB, Canada)


I agree with KWoods. I just want to add one thing: these plants do not need mycorrhiza fungus to survive - only the seeds need it to germinate, since they do not have room for food in the seed being so small, and need the fungus for nutrients. Also, unless you live in a very dry area I would not recommend ever watering these plants. They are surprisingly drought tolerant and like dry soil. And when you dig them up, be very careful not to cut any root tips off.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 10:05PM
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I checked that site, because I transplanted some to an area where some were already growing native, and this year (five or six years later) they didn't look too good. It may be because they're now in what amounts to pretty much full shade.

What to do? I sure hate to move them again. They bloomed and multiplied nicely for several years; it was just this year that not one of them bloomed.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 2:14PM
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Fledgeling_(4b SD)

thats about what the wildflower society's website says "Even with apparent initial success most transplants begin to decline and disappear after 4-5 years. "

So i would say resist the temtation and leave them!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 10:41PM
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Yes, except the ones that were already there don't look too good either. I was very careful not to disturb the established ones; I planted the new ones a couple of feet away, each with a root ball not deep, but quite wide.

I guess I won't move them. Maybe I'll try and get them some more sun somehow.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 1:02PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

Could it have simply been the lack of rain this year? Maybe supplemental watering w/ collected rainwater might help. They like dappled morning or late afternoon sun.

Is the increasing shade created by a thirsty tree that isn't allowing them to get the water they need?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 1:12PM
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They were in a shady spot to begin with, but the trees just keep getting bigger, and now I'd say that they are in just about full shade. I didn't pick the spot with anything in mind except that there were already some growing there, so I hoped it would be OK.

The summer has been very dry, but the springtime was horribly cold and wet, and none of them bloomed.

I'd like to get a bit less shade on that end of the yard anyway, but it might be a losing proposition. Maybe I'll wait a few more years (to see if they are doing OK, generally, and then move them back whence they came.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 3:45PM
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OK, this year they have multiplied, and just one of them will bloom. I don't know if that is success or failure.

Oh what to do? I'm certainly not going to cut down all of the trees.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 7:51PM
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I feel badly about the pink ladies slippers, both yours and mine. I should have known better than to try and transplant them--it is just that they are my favorite flower, and that area where there are thousands of them (literally thousands) didn't miss them, but I knew that I couldn't make them grow. They came up after I planted them on pine duff and mulched them well with the same pine duff, but nobody bloomed and they are all very small. So, people, I have learned my lesson. Leave nature alone!!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 8:28PM
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Do not despair.
With the way natural habitats are simply being paved over for the next super sized shopping mall it is imperative that the ability to grow these kinds of plants is mastered. It will not be mastered if noone does anything. What is important is to get all the info necessary to make the right decisions and understand what is involved.
The failure with C. acaule may not be the method used but the timing of transplanting?? Also are you sure that the placement made was comparable to that they existed within.
A thorough knowledge of the original site is needed in making native transplanting. That means knowing what each season is like for the plants. These babies are growing under deciduous trees, hardwood trees, no trees, ??? what are the temps day highs and nites lows during the seasons and rainfall amounts just what how much and when . . . these are only some of the questions that really must be considered.
going out and digging up a plant and planting it in a comparable place is not the best policy. I really believe in pot culture as an intermediary between the original natural site and the new natural site. With pot culture you can move the plant about to different locations or have several plants in several locations to see how each responds.
Again what is important is not to try but to understand before you try and to really get the "feel" of the "lay of the land" before trying to plow it!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 10:46PM
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From my understanding ladyslippers don't handle pot culture too well. I think like many orchids they need plenty of air to their roots. If I was to pot them, I'd make sure to use one of the shorter broader pots and make sure to use clay not plastic. Also the orchids preference for growing horizontal roots just between the pine duff and slightly under the soil might be hard to replicate in a pot.

Pink Lady slippers have always been the hardest, and yet always seem to be the one people wish to transplant. Luckily they are also the most common. Anyway, I'd suggest that people avoid transplanting the native orchids unless they really face emminant doom (like a shopping mall). Try one of the tissue-cultured or garden propagated ones. I think over time this will become the better solution, since garden stock often represents plant that have already survived in someone's garden before.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 8:57AM
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These babies are growing under deciduous trees, hardwood trees, no trees, ??? what are the temps day highs and nites lows during the seasons and rainfall amounts just what how much and when . . . these are only some of the questions that really must be considered.

Well...they were growing in mixed evergreen/deciduous forest. I moved them about a hundred yards to a spot under an oak tree where there were some others growing well. To be fair, I did realize that this was risky. This year (again) there are more than there were last year (and years previous, etc), so I think maybe I haven't killed them yet, but I sure do wish they would bloom.

I'm trying to figure out if I can prune some of the trees to the south/east of them so that they will get at least some morning sun.

In future perhaps I will landscape a path into my woods so that I may enjoy the lady slipper growing there undisturbed. A long term project to be sure, but maybe worth the work? There are other lovely native things there to be enjoyed as well.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 11:07AM
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Try posting this question in the orchid forum.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 12:09PM
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I heard Bill Cullina of New England Wildflower Society speak this winter. His method of transplanting lady slippers of all sorts is to use a digging fork, not a shovel. (He's transplanting those on the nursery - not from the wild!) The fork is gently put into the soil and wiggled around to loosen the roots and this leads to fewer roots being chopped off by the blade as with a shovel. You gingerly lift and wiggle.

Once a root is chopped, it does not regenerate, so the plant is weaked and tends to decline over years for it is getting by with fewer roots than it needs to maintain its leaves and produce flowers.

There are a number of hybrids being developed using American and Asian terrestrial slippers. (There are a few vendors on the web) Evidently, they are more vigorous, though i dont own any to report on. I enjoy the pink natives near me by just visiting them.

Good luck
Maryanne in WMass

    Bookmark   May 24, 2006 at 1:16PM
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i looked on the internet and it said they wont harly live if you replant it look up pink lady slipper and go to questions and answers

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 9:28PM
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I have transplanted cyps for years without a problem. The roots should be teased out of the soil knowing that the root structure can be up to a foot outwords from the bud. The pink cyps real challenge is the soil PH which must be very acidic or desease will attack the plant. Moving them in the same general area should not be a problem. By all means try to save them if a bulldozer is going to take them but try not to cut the roots because this introduces desease into the plant and decreases its chances of survival. Other slippers are much easier to grow if your soil is not naturally acidic. The small and large yellows are very easy to grow and will spread in a prepared bed.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2006 at 11:03PM
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Some people have a lot of luck with C acaule but most have none, and folks have tried just about every concievable means to grow them, and have destroyed countless plants in the process. A shame when the plant is already threatened by loss of habitat. I believe that the plant doesn't need the mycchorizae to survive, but does MUCH better when it is present (and residing in the roots). Mycchorizae help the plant take up nutrients and moisture, since the roots lack hairs for this function. What is certain is this--it is more important for us to fight to preserve proper habitat than it is to save plants. This is especially true in the case of lady slipper orchids. Even if we successfully transplant them to our yards and gardens, they may grow, but likely their seed will never germinate and grow in the absence of the proper fungus, which may be, but perhaps most likely is not present in your soil. And what is the ultimate aim of any organism but TO REPRODUCE! Having thousands of sterile little colonies will not save the species, nor preserve the genetic diversity needed for it to adapt to changing conditions and to evolve. It can only do those things in its proper habitat.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 8:09PM
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I moved to a new home recently and I was thrilled to find blooming pink lady slippers while walking in the edge of a forest on my property. Unfortunately, most of the forest is now being demolished for new homes. I have noticed as the summer has progressed that the forest in danger has several lady slippers strewn here and there. Ironically, they litter the ground around a bulldozer waiting to go to work. These slippers will be consumed if they are not moved. I hope to follow these directions about transplanting the flowers to a safe location if only to give them a chance to live a few more years. I will spend time exhuming the roots carefully, will move the plant to a location around safe, thriving plants, and then I will hope for the best. Thanks for generating a great list of deas. Any other ideas for success would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 6:46AM
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Crux, this link will help you

Here is a link that might be useful: transplanting lady slippers

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 12:52AM
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I'm a logger just up from coons bay Oregon, been topping trees quite possably the toughest man alive. (Ray Stevens early 70's) I cleared a camp lot on a lake that included chipping all the brush, leaving all trees over 10" chest high, and making a 10' driveable path to the water 150' from the camp site. Mixed wood but several 20-30" pine. gramp was a farmer/ florest and when I was old enough to reach I was pinching mums for the double blossems. I ran the back hoe rocking and stumping the path to the water. When I saw a lady slipper I would scoop it and when I set it down I would press the bucket down enough to move 2" of soil. It was a bid job and the camp owner didn't know slippers from dandy lions so I never got off the machine to tamp them in. 8 years later I got a call from the camp owner asking what I had charged her to plant the slippers because it wasn't on the bill. she now had hundreds and her friend wanted her camp to look like that to. It was a border about a back hoe reach on both sides of her road. I only moved 10 -12 plants. Be sure I turned down that job , not even on a bet. I don't remember what the weather was, it was spring and I must not have been pressed for another job in min. are money deal. She hand clips around them now and I get work on that lake that $10,000 of advertizing wouldn't buy.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 6:51PM
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