non-flowering ladyslipper

joy4me(z6 NY)February 26, 2006

I have had a ladyslipper in my garden for about 8 years. In fact, the small garden was built where it is now because the lady slipper was growing. Since the garden was planted, the ladyslipper leaves come up growing larger each year, but dosen't flower. It looks very healthy otherwise and the leaves last until the fall. I have tried adding extra compost, pine needles, etc. The other woodland flowers do fine. Any help ing producing a flower is appreciated. Thanks!

I live in the Lower Hudson Valley in a woodland area.

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The main reason a Cypripedium doesn't bloom is that it isn't getting enough light. Most species prefer bright shade, and some require at least a few hours of sun each day to bloom. Do you know what species you have? I would guess you have either the pink ladyslipper (C. acaule) or the yellow ladyslipper (C. parviflorum v. pubescens).

The other possibility is that you have a plant that looks a lot like a ladyslipper, but isnÂt: the false hellebore (Veratrum viride). The leaves look much like C. reginae in particular. This species often doesnÂt produce flowers for many years, so you may think you have a Cypripedium when in fact you donÂt. HereÂs a link to Veratrum to be sure.

Here is a link that might be useful: V. viride

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 10:30AM
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joy4me(z6 NY)

Hi there Plantfreak;

Thank you for your quick response!
I have C.Acaule (pink ladyslipper). It bloomed before the garden was put in but not since. I have a feeling the the soil is not just right. The leaves are huge and healthy. The area gets a bit more afternoon sun than it had previously by about 10%. The soil is potting soil & woodland soil from my woods, mixed with peat moss, pearlite, manure and compost. I add this same mixtue each year in spring also. However, the exact spot that the slipper is in, I did not really turn over with this mix as I was afraid to disturb the plant, though I may have disturbed it a bit in digging the rest of the garden and I'm sure some of this has leached into the plants area. I did however, put the mixture over top mixing a few inchs down. I have done that procedure with pine needles and woodland soil taked from the tree understory from my woods. I have also used plant fertilizer and compost topping when doing the whole garden.
I will go to the site you suggest and perhaps solve the problem. Thanks so much for you help!!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 3:13PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

They have lateral roots that do not like to be disturbed. A mature plant's roots can extend several feet horizontally from where you see growth. When the tips are broken they do not regenerate but send out brand new roots. It may be generating new roots for any you inadvertantly severed. Top growth will help it to do that but also might prevent it from flowering (cost of production). From your post I get the feeling you may be giving it a bit more attention than it can handle. Careful not to overfertilize or change soil structure, composition, chemistry. They like acidic well drained soil. Once established they like to be left alone.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 9:50AM
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pablo_nh(z4/5 NH)

They don't like too much fertilizer/nutrient. Good vegetative growth without flowering is the #1 symptom of too much nitrogen. I would stop adding what you're adding, and try just shredded leaves as a mulch. I have spots in my woods with 10+ flowering pink ladyslippers- they do great without my interference in oak leaves and pine needles. In fact, I now I'd screw them up if I tried to "help" :)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 3:10PM
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I agree with the above posts. This species prefers nutrient poor soils that are above all acidic in reaction. Anything over pH 4.5 for a sustained period will kill them in a few seasons. Also, I would avoid adding any complex organic fertilizer that decomposes rapidly, such as the manure. This invites a host of problems for terrestrial orchids in general since it invigorates potential pathogens, especially the overgrowth of fungi. Frankly, it is amazing your plant has endured this treatment. It would be better if you watered it occasionally with dilute vinegar solution (teaspoon/gallon of mineral free H2O) to insure low pH levels of the soil. Still, maintaining the plant for eight years means it is firmly established. Was it naturally in your garden or did you plant it?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 6:55PM
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joy4me(z6 NY)


Thank You everyone for your responses! I will take your advice and not continue to baby my lady Slipper. It was there originally and I built the garden around it. I have not seen any new shoots. Plantfreak, I will check the PH of the soil and if need be, try your vinegar appilication, and/or leave it be and hope for blooms in the future.

Thanks again to all!!!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 2:26PM
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