Cypripedium reginae, commonly known as the royal lady slipper, is a beautiful terrestrial orchid of the Venus hoof type. It belongs to the family orchidaceae, subfamily cypripedidae. Cypripedium reginae is native to North America, growing in wetlands or forests. Unfortunately, the royal lady slipper is disappearing quickly, as its habitat is gradually changing.
For many people, cypripedium reginae exceeds many tropical orchids in beauty and elegance; it is the most sought-after forest orchid and the most desired by wild orchid lovers. Cypripedium reginae can take up to 15 years to grow and flower for the first time and can live for half a century. The pink-and-white lady slipper is one of the most imposing and impressive terrestrial orchids.
You can learn the following as you read through:
* Main features
* How to maintain the lady slipper flower in your garden?
The lady slipper flower is native to all of eastern North America and grows mainly in humid habitats in cold temperate regions. It likes bogs, swamps, and lakeshores, but also adapts very well to the light shade of deciduous or coniferous forests. From spring onwards, it forms a clump of large, bright green, oval to elliptical, deciduous leaves with very pronounced parallel veins. Additionally, it can grow up to one meter high. In some climates, it can reach 50 to 70 cm in height. Flowering takes place at the beginning of summer. The floral stem, stable and robust, develops directly from a very large cylindrical rhizome.
It has leaves to the top. Alternating and distributed along these high stems, one or two flowers appear, rarely three or four. The shape of cypripedium flowers is composed of white sepals and petals dominating an imposing, very swollen «hoof,» which is pale pink to magenta.
Cypripedium royal is a rhizomatous plant. It produces an underground stem, one to two cm thick, which grows very slowly over the years. From this rhizome develops numerous whitish roots, about two mm thick, capable of settling 70 cm into the ground. Green stems emerge late in the season, during May. The royal cypripedium develops, in five to six weeks, erect stems 40 to 75 cm high, sometimes more. Each stem bears three to seven broad, alternate, lanceolate to ovate, intensely folded, and hairy leaves.
The flowers are apical. They are 10 cm wide, the petals and sepals white, while the hoof-shaped labellum is tainted with dark pink. Surprisingly, the color and pattern of the labellum are entirely shifting from year to year, probably depending on the temperature. Once well planted, cypripedium reginae can produce large colonies by vegetative propagation, with the number of shoots almost doubling each year.
Cypripedium reginae needs relatively constant humidity, some light, and a soil with a circumneutral pH (close to neutral). It adapts to weakly acidic and calcareous substrates. In acidic peat bogs, the roots go down below the acid sphagnum moss to reach the more neutral groundwater below.
In openings or woodland edges, you can find large colonies of cypripedium reginae with abundant flowering, but plants in full shade do not usually produce flowers. Plants growing in medium shade are generally larger than those growing in sunny areas. Additionally, you can find cypripedium reginae in swampy woods, woodland clearings, and in damp and open roadside ditches.
Cypripedium reginae prefers cool to moist, neutral to slightly calcareous soils. Cypripediums are more resistant to severe cold. They do not fear temperatures below -30 degrees C, -40 degrees C under snow cover. They like well-draining soils. If your soil is very compact or clayey, it is necessary to make a planting pocket.
For each plant, dig a basin of about 40 cm, cover its bottom with a drainage layer and fill it with the following mixture: 50% sand, perlite, or lava stone. Additionally, the other half garden soil mixed with finely crushed pine bark, a compost-based on leaf compost. The rhizomes of cypripedium must not dry out in summer and must not to be immersed in winter. In the garden, place the cypripedium reginae in a cool, shady, or semi-shady place. Avoid brutal sunshine at the hottest hours of the day.
How To Maintain Lady Slipper In Your Garden?
Cypripedium reginae is a very hardy plant, adapted to cold temperate regions. It appreciates a cold winter and not too hot summer. It requires a very draining, aerated soil that is quite low in organic matter, which remains moist but not wet. It can, therefore, be enjoyed in garden soil, mixed with drainage material: pine bark, perlite, pozzolana, or pumice stone, putting 100% gravel near the rhizome and its buds.
It appreciates a little slow-release fertilizer in the spring just before the shoots appear at the end of April. Cypripedium reginae likes direct sunlight in the morning or evening. Some gardeners grow it in large pots under a frame, where all cultivation parameters are controlled. Cypripedium reginae produces flowers and new side shoots in increasing numbers every year. For a beginner in cypripedium, it is advisable to start by cultivating a hybrid, necessarily of horticultural origin, and more natural to succeed.
The lady slipper flower is covered with a fine, dense hair that can cause severe itching in some people, like toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy).
The showy lady slipper was named the flower of the State of Minnesota in 1902. Additionally, cypripedium reginae was also designated as the official plant of the province of Prince Edward island in 1947.
Cypripedium reginae is a reasonably rare plant and is considered to be a threatened species in both Canada and the United States. In almost every other region or country, the flower is listed on the vulnerable plants. The only area where the plant is neither threatened nor vulnerable would be Ontario.
The lady slipper is very sensitive to hydrological disturbances, threatened by wetland drainage, habitat destruction, and wild plant collectors. Recently, a few horticulturists have learned to propagate cultivated cypripedium reginae, and they are now available in many tree nurseries.
Cypripedium reginae flowers are most original with their leafy stem and one or two large flowers with white petals and sepals contrasting with the magenta-pink labellum, making them easy to identify. It is the largest flower, if not the most beautiful, of all North American orchids. It is easy to grow, provided that you carefully recreate its biotope in semi-shade and fresh soil.