It Had to Start Somewhere- Paphiopedilum Species;
The Husky Group  

P. rothschildianum
The King of the Genus
with flowers over 10 inches across

In this blog I will look at the largest species in the genus, most of which are from Borneo and the Philippines. One species in particular, sanderianum, was essentially lost in cultivation, then re-introduced about 25 years ago. The species can now be purchased at a fairly reasonable sum, somewhat less than the price of a small car, as was the case 20 years ago.  Some of these species make impressive hybrids, and are easy enough to grow if you understand their needs. Many of these species are rock or tree dwellers, in fairly high light levels. This means that these plants like bright light and a well-drained potting mix in cultivation. They can be grown in subtropical or tropical areas in hanging baskets or hanging pots, providing the plants with plenty of air movement. At Pinecrest Gardens, I grow plants of this group in clay pots in a Cattleya mix, in the same area as the Brazilian Cattleyas. The plants receive about 4000 foot candles of light throughout the day. The plants are strong, with solid, upright flowers stems, both indicators of good growth.     

P. sanderianum
this plant is about 4 feet tall !
The Queen of the Genus
can have petals over 2 feet long 
This group of plants contains many interesting species, most of which grow large, but grow slowly. As such, the plants tend to be fairly expensive if you buy them at flowering size. Small seedlings less than 6 inches leaf span can take 4-6 years to grow to flowering size. The reward is a stunning flower with unique characters and a typically long flower stem. Some of the largest hybrids, using P. kolopakingii, can have flower stems over 4 feet tall ! 

P. kolopakingii
one of the giants of the genus

P. 'St. Swithin', a robust and easy-to-grow hybrid

 For those who have some experience with orchid growing, try a few of these. There are numerous new hybrids coming in from Taiwan and Southeast Asia, so the prices are dropping. At the local shows and sales in South Florida, one can now buy a nice Paph. St. Swithin in bud for around $ 50, a plant that would have been $ 200 or more a few decades ago. The hybrids tend to grow faster than the species do, although there is a simmering debate over whether a hybrid or a species is "more attractive". Judge for yourself at the next orchid show......

P. stonei, one of the early "big" species
Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens

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