Cypripedium in the Garden

Arlen Hill | 01 May, 2012

Cypripedium are not as tricky as their reputation suggests, but not all are adaptable for the garden.  With this in mind, as a general rule, they prefer a balanced  media of organic humus rich nutrients and inorganic free draining components.  The best results I have had for growing Cyps has been planting them in a "raised" bed.  Meaning  mounding the soil above the existing soil level so that moisture will migrate past the crown and root zone of the plant.  Most Cypripedium prefer filtered sun or direct morning and very late afternoon sun.  They don't thrive if they are too shady and they will get scorched and turn yellow in the hottest sun.  Cypripedium hybrids are some of my favorite to grow, since they settle in and clump up in only a few years, adapting to garden soil with relative ease.  Cypripedium formosanum is the first to emerge and bloom for us in early to mid April.  Cypripedium formosanum, in the right conditions will happily double its patch each season.  Cypripedium reginae is a great garden plant but a bit of a slow grower to clump up.  These require a moister situation, pairing up well with Cypripedium californicum, Dactylorhiza, Primula, Epipactis, Ledum and even Darlingtonia.  I have tried Cypripedium reginae in a number of spots and they do well in garden soil that stays moist, but they also do well in a mix of peat, sand, pumice, and a bit of compost.  This allows a wide range of moisture loving perennials to grow together.  We generally don't fertilize often however they benefit from a thin layer of fresh compost each fall or spring.  Blooming time ranges from mid April through June, depending upon the species and weather.

Here are just a few to think about

Cypripedium formosanum

Cypripedium formosanum

Cypripedium 'Gisela'

Cypripedium 'Emil'

Cypripedium ventricosum

Cypripedium 'Victoria'

Cypripedium tibeticum

Cypripedium 'Phillip'