transplanting lady slippers

leclerc_group(5)April 7, 2006

When I was a little kid, my mom used to pull over on the side of the road and make me watch for cars while she went into the woods to steal lady slippers. (And this was on our way home from church!) She would just take a couple and put them in a vase. So naturally, I thought there must be something very special about these flowers. To this day I think they are the most beautiful flower and they still hold a very special place in my heart.

Now thirty years later they are developing all of the woods in my town where the lady slippers were once abundant. It seems a shame to me that it is illegal to take some for transplanting, yet developers can destroy them by the thousands.

If I were to miraculously come across one or two somehow... does anyone know how to transplant them properly? My woodland garden wouldn't be complete without them.

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Instead of digging some up why don't you buy some.
It is easier just to buy some that will grow in your area
and have the confidence that they will more likely survive
than digging one up a plant.
Also if you know of a population of native cyps that are threatened with development then contact a local native plant society and let them know about it. From what I understand most areas that are pristine are inventoried before development is allowed in order to ascertain if any endangered or threaten plants on a US government list are present. I would think that most native populations of cyps are known about and many are being monitored since they have become so rare. So hands off please but do your part to protect them.

Here are some links to places that you can buy laboratory
raised plants that stand a much better chance of growing for you.

Cyp Haven

Sprangle Creek Labs

Vermont Lady Slipper

Hillside Nursery


    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 11:52PM
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I am assuming that leclerc's lady-slippers are Cyp. pubescens or yellow lady-slippers. If that is true they don't appear on any of the lists mentioned above.
Several years ago, we had a similar situation. A pristine area was slated for development. I organized a plant rescue. I involved our county's master gardeners, and the local highschool teacher & students. We dug cranefly orchid, ferns, bloodroot, maple-leaved viburnum among others. We rescued countless pickup truckloads of plants from that area. These were all taken to nearby county-owned property that the master gardeners were working on and planted. Needless to say, this was done with the knowledge of the property owner.
"Lady-slippers are best moved and divided before growth begins in Spring or in early Fall. Being careful not to damage the all-important roots. Cyp roots cannot grow a new tip should their's become injured" This is from Bill Cullina's book, "Growing & Propagating Wildflowers".
Rescue the plants if you can, put them in a similar woodland which I assume is sugar maple, beech, etc. Get help and be open and upfront about it.
When the place is developed the new owners will plant daylilys and hosta and the pristine forest will be a memory.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 11:42AM
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Thank you for the info. I am referring to the pink lady slipper, which I found on the site "Vermont Lady Slipper."

Here's what they say:

"The Pink Lady's Slipper requires an extremely acidic growing substrate and therefore when grown in a woodland setting this must be provided naturally. The best way to judge the potential suitability of a site is to look for the more common indicator plants that grow in similar conditions to Cypripedium acaule (i.e., very acid soils).

These plants are the common Blueberry, Cranberry, Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), Fringed polygala (Polygala paucifolia), Painted trillium (Trillium undulatum). The forests in these areas will tend to be dominated by pine, hemlock, spruce, oak and/or beech trees. The wood's moisture level can vary from dry to damp as moisture level is never the limiting factor with Cypripedium acaule. The plants should be planted in the humus pockets that collect in these areas near trees where some direct sun enters each day."

I have lots of blueberry, pine, oak, etc. in my woods, so I think I will try it. Thanks again for the info.

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

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 2:42PM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I have transplanted Pink Lady Slippers by digging each one with as large a section of intact forest floor as possible. This generally means each one is dug with a section of forest floor about 16 inches in diameter and perhaps a foot deep - the size of a section created by driving my garden shovel into the soil vertically on four sides. Once I have made the four connecting cuts with the shovel, I lift the chunk of soil and carefully slide it into a plastic grocery store bag. I double bag, tie the handles together to keep the bag as tight as possible around the soil, then carefully move the plants. The grocery bags are nice because the handles allow easy transportation of the plants.

At home I remove the bag and place the soil into a hole slightly larger than the block of soil, with the surface of the transported soil level with the surface in the new location. I then fill carefully around the edges, water thoroughly to help settle the soil, and perhaps replace some humus as mulch.

This is pretty much the same procedure I use for all plants. The key is to keep the soil around the plants intact so you don't disturb the roots. I have had great success with this method, including with Pink Lady Slippers. However, I have read that Pink Lady Slippers may survive a year or two after transplanting only to die later. Mine are only one year old, so it is too soon to claim success. However, since the site they were growing on is being bulldozed, I don't feel too badly even if they die - at least this way they had a chance.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2006 at 10:41PM
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It's nice to hear from someone who has actually tried transplanting them! I have also heard that transplants can die after a year or two. I am trying to decide whether to try it or to wait until I have a little more experience. Have you ever tried ordering from a nursery? I'm thinking about ordering from "Vermont Lady Slipper" in the fall.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 12:26AM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

I have only been successful w/ acuale since I started closely monitoring the ph (4.5) and watering very occasionally w/ 1 capful cider vinegar to gallon water. A cheapie ph meter/kit is a good investment w/ these.

When I worked for a nature center about 10 yrs back we had a guerilla rescue. An adjacent property was being developed and we moved the acuale to areas in the preserve where they were already seen growing.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 10:06AM
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Hey I really like that expression:
Guerilla rescue!
I really hate the thought of loss of habitat due to human
encroachment as I have seen some very cool natural spots
turned into dirt and development. If only time was on my
side I would have been out digging up some native violets
and peonies that were literally stripped off the face of
the earth along with an endemic manzanita and ceanothus species!

Definitely let it be known about the C. acaule needing

I am glad to hear that kwoods is growing the species. I have tried but did not succeed like I wanted. I attribute this entirely to total ignorance about its growing conditions. I tried for a year to get more detailed info on the kind of substrate the plant was growing in but only succeeded at getting general terminology such as acidic soil! So now I am letting bags of leaves rot and have some old bark that will break up in your hands but in mulling this all over I think that the acid soil idea is not really the definitive factor in raising C. acaule. I think the definitive factor is soil temperature. I am starting to suspect that C. acaule needs a cool substrate in which to grow. Kind of like Darlingtonia californica or even Dendrobium cuthbertsonii. The roots need to be cool. Is there a relationship between soil pH and soil temperature?
Eventually I hope to try C. acaule again but from a different perspective and experiment. Oh, I grow the plants in pots as I have to refrigerate over winter because my night temps only get down into the high 30s occasionally.

As far as handling the plant I do not really know if it matters whether one is ginger with the plant or not. Now is the time to repot and/or divide up plants. I have a C. kentuckiense and a C. reginae that I just depotted and potted up into a 1-gallon pot. I removed as much as the old
mix as possible-it had gotten too mushy for my tastes and
think that the debris type mix that I am currently using on most everything will prove to be the best yet. It will be
interesting to see how they do with my handling!

Whatever is done regarding the threaten cyp please do make
a journal with images and observations about the plant and share!! The biggest problem to success with these babies is the conflicting information that is on the net as to how to handle them. Hopefully in due time that will change.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 4:51AM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

Keeping roots intact does matter. They grow laterally, they do not regenerate from the tips if broken.

Maintaining acidity is the key. Sulfur/aluminum sulfate don't seem to work. You need to find a place where the right acidity already exists. The vinegar thing really does work.

Two good recent books

Growing Hardy Perennial Orchids by Bill Mathis

Growing Hardy Orchids Tullock

of the two I think the Mathis book is the better, both are very good.

├é┬ęKWoods 2006

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 9:57AM
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Thanks for all the great info! That picture is beautiful. There are a few hidden spots around here where the woods are completely full of those. I am in Maine where it is cool most of the time, and they are pretty deep in the woods where there is hardly any sun. I have learned enough to know I'm not ready for this project -- I am still a beginner. But I will keep reading and learning!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 12:34AM
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lady_6(z6 KY)

Our county government here filled in the flood plane of a creek. The creek did flood into the low laying pastures on both sides and got across the road there. There was no one living in the low laying areas and the road had many other side roads that lead back to the main road. But still they filled it in and widen the road covering the native plants including the Kentucky Ladyslippers. We didn't relize to what extent they were going to widen the road and raise it. Lots of native plants are lost. So if you can save any and all do so.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 10:33PM
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What a tragedy!
Definitely image such spots and let those politician know
before they do such dastardly deeds!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 5:38AM
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This is really great information. We have a bit of a Lady Slipper problem in the back yard. We have enough of them that I would almost call them a weed. The area we cleared to make some space for a garden (over the winder) has three paths to it, and all three are blanketed with Lady Slippers. We're constantly reminding each other to step around them, and a few have been squashed. I've even nicked a few with the lawn mower. We've restructured all of our landscaping plans, but they are still in the way. They're everywhere! I also don't think they'll be as doing as well as before since they're more exposed to the sun. I would love to move them deeper into the woods (all pine and blueberry), but I was afraid to dig them up. Now I won't worry about it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Suburban Farm

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 4:52PM
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What is the best time to transplant Lady Slippers? I would like to rescue some from the roadside, they are on a rocky hilly roadside, with a Northern exposure. Any suggestions to make for a successful planting would be very welcome!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:23PM
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