Kingdom : Plantae
Order : Asparagales
Family : Orchidaceae
Subfamily : Cypripedioideae
Tribe : Cypripedieae
Subtribe : Cypripediina
Genus : Cypripedium
Growing specie cypripediums in the garden is relatively easy providing the right species are selected and the right conditions provided. There are some 65 species of cypripediums, all found within the northern hemisphere, ranging from Mexico to Siberia. There are, however, only a limited number which are seed grown or divisions of legally held plants. In particular there are only a few Chinese species which are bred. Any of the rarer species offered for sale are undoubtedly from illegally obtained stock.
It must be realised that any species obtained from outside Europe must have both CITES and phyto-sanitary certificates. Before looking at the individual species and their requirements it is important to be aware of the general cultural needs of cypripediums.
Hybrid cypripediums are the best way for new enthusiasts to learn to grow cypripediums in the garden or cold greenhouse. They, of course, exhibit hybrid vigour and are far less demanding than some of the species. Equally important is the fact that they have to be artificially raised so their production can have no impact on wild populations and it is obvious they are from bred stock.
Cypripedium hybrids are fully hardy and capable of taking temperatures below freezing but do not like hot summer temperatures. (they will take higher temperatures than many of the species). They should be grown in semi-shade with limited midday sun. They must never be water logged nor conversely allowed to dry out in the summer.
They should be grown in semi-shade with limited midday sun. They must never be water logged nor conversely allowed to dry out in the summer. This makes them ideal for cool slightly damp north facing aspects. Whilst they will grow in shrubberies or woodland they should not be too close to trees or large shrubs as they are unable to compete for moisture and nutrients. Suitable associate species include ferns, epimedium and smaller hostas. They also thrive when planted under a ground cover of Leptinella.