Cypripediums prefer to grow in a slightly shady spot, although a few hours of sun or full shade are also tolerated. Under bushes or trees in North, West or East facing positions, they are not picky. The same applies to soil type. If possible, mix some substrate, fine gravel or coarse sand through the soil where the plants will be placed. Optionally, you can also mix some lime into the soil. Treat these orchids just like any other plant in the garden: fertilize in the spring and possibly later to achieve extra leaf and root growth.
If you prefer, you can keep Cypripediums in a spacious pot in compost made up of 2 parts grit, 1 part orchid bark, 1 part loam and 1 part leaf-mould. The growing part of the rhizome should just protrude from the compost. Keep the compost moist and each winter remove the top 3 cm (1.25 inches) and replace with a mix of equal parts grit, bark and leaf-mould. Add bonemeal in early spring. Repot only if the plant outgrows its container.
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A hardy terrestrial orchid, the Bletilla species from which all the new hybrids originate, grow wild in grasslands and on slopes in Japan, Southern China, Myanmar, Burma and Thailand. From May onwards, each flower produced from one of these hybrid orchids will have 5 narrow petals radiating above a broad lower petal or lip. The flowers are about 2.5 cm (1 inch) across and appear in sprays of 3-6 at the top of arching stems which can be up to 40 cm (16 in) long and are butterfly-like. Of all the hardy garden orchids, Bletillas can tolerate the most Summer sun, just so long as the soil remains moist. Plant in the garden in early spring in moist but well drained humus rich soil just covering the pseudobulbs. As Winter arrives make sure that it’s not too wet especially because their roots can easily freeze. If you protect their corm-like pseudobulbs over Winter with a layer of dead leaves or compost, Bletillas will survive and bloom year after year. Bletillas can be propogated by dividing the clustered pseudobulbs of established plants between Autumn and early Spring. Although slugs may damage young shoots, these plants are generally trouble free.
We sell a wide range of Bletilla orchids online which you can view here.
Calanthe Hybrid orchids are easy to grow perennials and also look great in a pot on the patio. The plants tolerate temperatures down to -5 degrees Celsius and grow well in an average garden soil, but if you are unsure you can always mix some orchid soil when planting them in a sheltered place in the garden in shade or partial shade. Calanthe orchids are the only evergreen hardy orchid and if you have a particularly harsh winter do remember to cover their leaves with straw.
We sell a wide range of Calanthe orchids online which you can view here.
Grow Pleiones in shallow containers of well drained open compost made up of moss, fine bark chips, a little loam and charcoal pieces. Plant the pseudobulbs so that their bases are just covered by the compost.
Pleiones can be grown indoors on a shady windowsill where summer temperatures do not exceed 25 degs C (77 degs F) but they do need to be kept cool during their dormant period. If you are growing these orchids inside, do not water plants during their dormancy. Only begin watering when new growth appears and then increase the amounts of water used gradually. During summer mist overhead daily and give a mild liquid feed weekly. Keep well-watered until leaves fall and until the dormant period begins.
If you are growing these orchids outdoors, plant in mid to late Spring choosing a shady spot in free draining soil to which leaf-mould and fine bark chips have been added. Ensure that the base of the pseudobulbs are just covered by the soil. Cover them with a cloche or pane of glass in winter to protect them from excessive winter wet.
These plants can be divided in early spring before the new growth begins. Red spider mites, voles, slugs and aphids may be troublesome.
We sell a wide range of Pleione orchids online which you can view here.