Maudie type slipper orchids are some of the easiest to grow and most commonly available slipper orchids on the market. As we begin our look at this wonderful group of orchids, we thought we would start with one of the easiest to grow. Collectors will be able to grow these plants on a windowsill or under lights as both the plants and the inflorescences are compact.
These plants do well with medium to low light. Hold your hand about 1 foot above where your plants leaves will be over a piece of paper with your fingers spread out. If the shadow cast by your hand has sharp well-defined edges, you have high light (and probably brighter than you want for these plants). You want the edges of the shadow to be fuzzy but still be able to see the shape of your hand and tell your fingers are spread.
These plants like a mix that provides good air and water movement. A mix of medium sized bark, charcoal, and perlite will give these plant’s roots the conditions they need to grow. If your mix is too dense (either with small particles or a high moss content) the roots will likely rot over time.
These plants do well being watered 1-2 times a week depending on your growing area humidity. Make sure when you water, that you are not watering into the fans of the plant (this can cause rot at the crown and of newly forming flower spikes) and that the mix is able to fully drain. These slippers don’t like ‘wet feet’ and the roots will suffer if they are allowed to sit in water.
A quality balanced fertilizer will allow these orchids to pack on growth during the season. The adage of fertilizing ‘weakly weekly’ works well with these plants. Give them fertilizer at 1/4 the recommended rate each week after you water, skipping fertilizer every 4th week to flush salts out of the pot.
These plants bloom on mature growths and the age of the fan will drive the ability to rebloom while the health of the plant and root system will help it grow bigger. If you have a multi-growth plant that is putting on size but isn’t blooming, try increasing the intensity of the light. If it isn’t getting enough, it won’t have the energy to bloom.
Jason Gebbia, NCOS Board Vice-President, and Away Show Chair