Lady's Slipper - Kentucky
Kentucky Lady's Slipper Orchid
Ease to Grow: Moderate.
Native Range: Woodlands of Eastern North America.
Zones: 5-9 (4-10).
Kentucky Lady's Slipper Orchid, Cypripedium kentuckiense, is the largest of all the Lady's Slipper Orchids. It is a hardy orchid with large, 2+" waxy, bright, creamy white, sometimes yellowish cast, mocassin shaped flowers resemble a swollen egg. The petals and sepals are greenish striped and mottled with purple. 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 singluar on tall spikes. It is a late Spring 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, Kentucky Lady's Slipper Orchids grow in rich, moist, open, upland woods, above bogs and fens. 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.
Height: 18" - 27".
Plant Type: Perennial, cold temperate.
Soil: Lady's Slipper Mix.
Soil pH: 7-7.5.
Light: Partial Sun to Dappled Light.
Use: Grows best outdoors in the bog garden or pots.