Orchid puz­zle solved

Landscape (UK) - - Our Landscape -

A few years ago, I picked up a very cheap lady’s slip­per orchid, cypri­pedium, at an end-of-sea­son gar­den cen­tre sale. It was just a browned stem in a pot and was la­belled ‘Ulla Silkens’, a cross of the Chi­nese Cypri­pedium flavum and US na­tive C. regi­nae. Th­ese glam­orous ter­res­trial orchids can be found in the wild in North Amer­ica, Europe and Asia. Ulla was left in the orig­i­nal pot and dug into the shady wood bed to pro­tect it from a thug­gish dis­porop­sis. For a cou­ple of years, she flow­ered, white up­per petals top­ping a badly rouged pout. Then it was time to re-pot, which was done in my usual hap­haz­ard way, although hor­ti­cul­tural grit was added to im­prove drainage. Last April, three promis­ing fuzzy-ribbed shoots emerged. Then they wilted, so I wa­tered them. They black­ened and the plant died; I found it had rot­ted, prob­a­bly through over­wa­ter­ing. Later, I came across an on­line ar­ti­cle in The Orchid Re­view de­scrib­ing the cor­rect com­post mix. It gave an ac­count of plant­ing cypri­pedium fol­low­ing in­struc­tions to plant them in gar­den soil mixed with hor­ti­cul­tural grit and ei­ther Seramis or a top-qual­ity cat lit­ter based on por­ous clay par­ti­cles. The au­thor re­ported that, us­ing this method, all of the cypri­pedium thrived in the gar­den, shaded by ferns and small trees. So, it was the cat lit­ter I was miss­ing.

Pot­ting up a slip­per orchid us­ing spe­cial­ist com­post.

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