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A BEGINNERS VIEW OF PAPHIOPEDILUM CULTURE

by Philip F. Wight



When I first started growing orchids I asked the question that most
beginners ask: what species are the easiest for me to grow.  The answer
often was, "raise Paphiopedilum orchids (paphs), they are easy to grow and
flower".  Well, I did that, but before long I wondered why many of my
paphs were not doing so well.  I figured that it was time for me to learn
more about the species, so I bought the books, sought out successful
growers and started compiling my own data on Paphs.  In a nutshell I found
out that to send newcomers out to buy and raise Paphs is like walking
through a mine field: if you chose correctly you will succeed but if you
make the wrong step you will probably fail.  Let me explain. 

Paphs are found throughout a wide area in China, the Indian and Indo-China
subcontinents, and islands in the west Pacific.  The growing conditions
found in those far-flung areas varies widely.  If you expect your paphs to
flower, then you must provide them an environment similar to what the
plant experiences at home.  In order to do that you must know which
species come from which area, and what culture conditions you should
provide. 

The species Paphiopedilum is divided into several sub-species and within
those sub-species there are numerous groups.  These lists can be found in
all their complexity in most good books on paphs.  What I have attempted
to do here is to classify the plants into five basic culture groups,
together with notes on the growing conditions each group requires. 

Paphs grow in areas influenced by the southwest and northeast monsoons,
the phenomena that determines the basic weather patterns in Asia.  The
southwest monsoon usually begins in April, at which time the prevailing
wind is blowing from the southwest from India to Japan, picking up heavy
moisture from the equatorial belt, sweeping it to the northeast and
dumping copious amounts of moisture throughout the entire region.  During
the southwest monsoon the areas under its influence daily experience heavy
rainfall on a schedule so reliable you could almost set your clock by the
beginning and ending of the rain.  The day usually starts out hot and
humid: by midday the clouds have built up a heavy load of water which then
dumps back through the afternoon and sometimes into the evening. 

By September or October the monsoon winds turn around 180 degrees and
become the northeast monsoon, bringing cooler and dryer air from the
arctic regions down over the monsoon belt.  There is virtually no rain
throughout the northeast monsoon period between October and March.
Humidity is low, temperatures are much lower and nights are cooler.

So, when we think of “monsoon conditions” we realize that there are
basically three seasons in the region: hot and wet from May to September;
cool and dry from October to February and hot and dry from March to April
(the period between the monsoons). 

I have broken down the paph species into five groups and have listed
culture conditions for each group. ` Note: this report deals only with
species.  When considering hybrids, you are on your own!  Keep in mind
that both parents will be reflected in the genes of the hybrid plant, but
the pod parent should exert the strongest influence.  Culture conditions
must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If I have made any errors or omissions in this list I would appreciate
being informed about them.  Also, if you have any differing opinions I
would like to hear from you. 

I hope the above helps you to grow and bloom bigger and better Paphs.

Phil Wight

GENUS PAPHIOPEDILUM PFITZER 1886

Group 1 - Brachypetalum and Parvisepalum

These plants are herbaceous terrestrial or epilithic - growing only in
lime-rich loam or sand, or in humus-filled crevices in limestone rocks in
sheltered lees mostly shaded from direct sunlight.  Their habitat is north
of the equator into China.  They want monsoon conditions.  A cool, dry
winter is essential for blooming the following summer.  Can be grown
outside in temperate climates.  The leaves are tessellated (except
P.emersonii).  The plants produce one to two flowers. 

Section Brachypetalum
    	P. bellatulum (Reichb.f.) Stein
   	P. concolor (Lindley) Pfitzer
    	P. godefroyae (Godefr.-Lebeuf) Stein
   	P. niveum (Reichb.f.) Stein

Section Parvisepalum
  	P. armeniacum Chen & Liu
  	P. delenatii Guill.
  	P. emersonii Koopowitz & Cribb
	P. malipoense Chen & Tsi
  	P. micranthum Tang & Wang

Group 2 - Corypedilum and Pardalopetalum

These are the large multifloral species.  Members of this group range from
terrestrial through epiphytic and lithophytic.  Most grow in only
partially shaded situations and are tolerant of higher light intensities
than are the mottled leaved species: the majority occupy habitats which
are exposed to wind currents and, if these habitats are elevated, to
considerable drops in night time temperatures, especially during the cool
season.  They can tolerate an intermediate temperature, higher light and
drier conditions.  They prefer a cool winter.

Section Corypedilum
	P. adductum Asher
	P. glanduliferum (Blume) Stein
	P. kolopakingii Fowlie
	P. philipinense (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. randsii Fowlie
	P. rothchildianum (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. sanderianum (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. stonei (Hook.) Stein
	P. supardii Braem & Loeb

Section Pardalopetalum
	P. haynaldianum (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. lowii (Lindley) Stein
	P. parishii (Reichb.f.) Stein

Group 3 - Cochlopetalum

These plants come from Sumatra and Java, in the monsoon belt.  They are
epilithic or rooted in humus in rock crannies or among exposed tree roots
on forested limestone hills.  These are also multifloral species but the
flowers open in succession. 

 Section Cochlopetalum
	P. glaucophyllum (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. liemianum (Fowlie) Karasawa & Sato
	P. primulinum M. Wood & Taylor
	P. victoria-mariae (Rolfe) Rolfe
	P. victoria-regina (Sander) M. Wood

Group 4 - Paphiopedilum

Section Paphiopedilum

This group is more difficult to grow.  They are terrestrial, epiphytic or
epilithic.  Although from the monsoon belt, most are cool growing,
occurring at high elevations where winter temperatures drop to near
freezing.  They bear usually one (sometimes two) flowers and must be kept
bright and cool. 

	P. barbigerum Tang & Wang
	P. charlesworthii (Rolfe) Pfitzer
	P. druryi (Bedd.) Stein
	P. exul (Ridley) Rolfe
	P. fairrieanum (Lindley) Pfitzer
	P. gratrixianum (Masters) Guill
	P. henryanum Braem
	P. hirsutissimum (Lindley ex Hook) Stein
	P. insigne (Wall. ex Lindley) Pfitzer
	P. spicerianum (Reichb.f. ex Masters & T. Moore) Stein
	P. villosum (Lindley) Stein	

Group 5 - Barbata

Section Barbata 

This species is terrestrial (violascens occasionally epiphytic and
barbatum occasionally epilithic) usually rooted in leaf litter or humus in
shaded forest habitats.  This is mostly a warm growing species in various
parts of the monsoon belt.  They have tessellated leaves with one, or at
most two, flowers.  This species prefers less light and monsoon
conditions. 

	P. acmodontum Schoser ex M. Wood
	P. appletoniannum (Gower) Rolfe
	P. argus (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. barbatum (Lindley) Pfitzer
	P. bougainvilleanum Fowlie
	P. bullenianum (Reichb.f.) Pfitzer
	P. callosum (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. ciliolare (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. dayanum (Lindley) Stein
	P. hennisianum (M. Wood) Fowlie
	P. hookerae (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. javanicum (Reinw. ex Lindley) Pfitzer
	P. lawrenceanum (Reichb.f.) Pfitzer
	P. mastersianum (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. papuanum (Ridley) Ridley
	P. purpuratum (Lindley) Stein
	P. sukhakulii Schorer & Senghas
	P. superbiens (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. tonsum (Reichb.f.) Stein
	P. urbanianum Fowlie
	P. venustum (Wallich) Phitzer ex Stein
	P. violascens Schltr.
	P. wardii Summerhayes
	P. wentworthianum Schoser & Fowlie

 Number of Group      Light    Temperature    Water    Fertilizer

        1            II to III     II          II          I
        2               IV         III         I           II
        3               III        II          I           I
        4               III        I           II          III
        5               I          III         II          II

--end--

-- 

Philip F. Wight                                                                              

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