Paphiopedilum barbatum (Slipper Orchid, Bearded Paphiopedilum, Lady’s Slipper)
It was first discovered on Mount Ophir in Sumatra, growing in granite rock crevices containing moss and decaying leaves. It inhabits areas where plentiful rainfall and high humidity ensure that the roots are always moist.
Paphiopedilum barbatum or Slipper Orchid is assessed as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :
- Botanical Name: Paphiopedilum barbatum (syn.: Cypripedium barbatum, Cypripedium biflora, Cordula barbata).
- Common Names:
Slipper Orchid, Bearded Paphiopedilum, Lady’s Slipper.
- Family name: Orchidaceae.
- Etymology: The genus name, Paphiopedilum is from the word Paphos, a town in Cyprus, the favourite island of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty. Pedilon is the Greek word for slipper. The specific epithet barbatum is derived from the Latin word barbs, meaning beard, in reference to the hairs present at the bases of the floral parts and on the ovary and inflorescence.
- Origin: Native to Myanmar, Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia.
- Plant type:
A terrestrial and semi-terrestrial plant.
- Features: Paphiopedilum barbatum is from the genus, Paphiopedilum that comprises of 96 accepted species.
A medium-sized and warm to cool growing terrestrial herb.
Their 5-8 pointed and narrowly elliptic leaves measure between 10-15 cm long and 3-5 cm wide, above mottled pale and dark green while below pale green.
Each flower stalk up to 35 cm tall bears just one or occasionally two flowers with a floral bract that is ¼ the length of the ovary.
Each flower is 20-27 cm long and 8-10 cm wide, purple and densely purple-pubescent.
Sepals are greenish-white with dark purple longitudinal stripes. Petals will be purple with darker purple apices, with the base and margins covered with small hairs and small raised blackish warts.
The pouch will be dark plum-purple.
Commonly known as Slipper Orchid or Lady’s Orchid due to the pouch-like labellum of the flower as the pouch traps insects that seek nectar from the flowers. An insect, lured to the attractive flower will be guided by the colourful markings and ridges to the shoe-like lip.
- Culture (Care):
Paphiopedilum barbatum or Slipper Orchid grows easily with the least maintenance.
Light: Partial shade.
Moisture: Water generously. as this beauty has no pseudobulbs to store water. If it’s planted on moss, water when the top feels dry. Do not overwater to avoid rotting the roots.
Soil: Grow in leaf litter, decaying leaves or sphagnum moss.
Any balanced orchid fertilizer (look at the numbers on the container, 20-20-20) can be used to fertilize your orchid. A weakly ¼ strength, once weekly works well. Once a month use clear water to flush any accumulated salts from the potting mix. Generally free from serious garden pests. However, poor air circulation will encourage the presence of mealybugs, insect infestations and fungus.
For subtropical and temperate regions: Hardiness: USDA Zone – Not applicable.
Paphiopedilum barbatum or Slipper Orchid requires a mean temperature range of 22-24°C to thrive well. Paphiopedilum belongs to the low light group of orchids and can be easily grown as houseplants.
Indoors, grow them under intermediate temperatures and bright light. East windows are ideal with a little shade in summer. A reddish tinge on the edges of the leaves means you need to provide more shade for your plant. If your paphs doesn’t rebloom, it may not be getting enough light. Paphs generally enjoy the same temperatures that we do in the home, ideally 15.55-18.33ºC at night and 23.89-29.44ºC during the day. Pot in a well drain mix such as medium fir bark and perlite. Water regularly about every four to five days. To induce blooming reduce watering in the spring and winter Paphs can be grown outside in mild climates. Protect plants during cold temperatures by avoiding moisture on leaves or in the crowns and in summer from burning from the sun. Provide good air circulation with a small fan as crowding of plants can lead to problems with insect infestations and fungus. When the blooms are finished, cut the spike down to the level of the leaves. Continue watering and fertilizing and within a year, a new spike will begin the blooming cycle again. Usually, flowering occurs in spring to early summer and can flower more than once a year. Flowers are long-lasting, about 2-3 months.
- Propagation: By seeds or by division of young plants.
Paphiopedilum barbatum is an ornamental plant with long lasting flowers. Suitable for growing in containers. It is in high demand and is extensively collected for commercial use for horticulture, domestic and international trade. Local people are engaged in collection of this plant from the wild for commercial traders.