Lady's Slipper - California
California Lady's Slipper Orchid
Ease to Grow: Moderate.
Native Range: Serpentine streams of coastal Mts, CA/OR.
Zones: 6-9 (5-10).
California Lady's Slipper Orchid, Cypripedium californicum, is a tall Lady's Slipper Orchid, forming large clumps and each stem can bear up to 21 flowers. It is a hardy orchid with medium, 1+" waxy, bright, creamy white, sometimes with pink spots, mocassin shaped flowers resembling a swollen egg. The petals and sepals are greenish brown. They have an opening through which pollinating insects travel. There is no nectar, and insects have to find their way through the pouch and out the back. They probably soon learn there is little nectar available in Lady's Slippers and avoid the flowers, which may be why so few are pollinated in the wild. Flowers are multiple on tall spikes. It is a late Summer bloomer, and flowers can last up to a month or more. Flower spikes benefit from staking, and protection from the wind. In their natural habit, California Lady's Slipper Orchids grow in rich, moist, open, upland woods, above bogs and fens, and typically in and among Cobra Lilies, Darlingtonia californica. The soil is typically acidic, low nutrient, loose, well drained and humusy. It is consistently moist, but not saturated. There is frequently a layer of decomposing leaves on the soil surface. Light is shade or dappled sunlight. Plants tolerate full sun, but do not look their best. Seeds are very fine and can be a challenge to germinate. It is winter hardy, and should be protected from rodents during dormancy. Mulch with 4+" of pine needles in the Fall. Leave at least a 1" of needles after spring cleanup. The rhizomes can be stored in damp sphagnum at 35°F (2°C) in a refrigerator for 3 or 4 months. Water with rain/distilled water, they are sensitive to mineral buildup. Do not over water, and be sure to keep the soil slightly moist during the peak of summer. It is striking in beds and pots, and makes a colorful addition to the bog garden.
Plants are small, juveniles. Plants are shipped bare-root, wrapped in damp sphagnum moss. In it's dormant season, it will be shipped as a dormant root/rhizome. Photographs are representative of species, and not the specific plant shipped.
Height: 18" - 36".
Plant Type: Perennial, cold temperate.
Soil: CP Soil or Upper Bog Mix.
Soil pH: 7-7.5.
Light: Partial Sun to Dappled Light.
Use: Grows best outdoors in the bog garden or pots.