Friday, July 9, 2010

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum Wossner Kolosuk

Not very different from the other Paphiopedilums I've seen, as far as shape and proportions go. The yellowish color is interesting, though. I like the look of paphs, but my personal experiences with them so far have been disappointing.

My Paphiopedilum is still alive, and grows, but it's smaller than it used to be: all but two of the original big, mottled leaves have died, and in their place the plant is growing smaller, unmottled dark green leaves. And obviously it's not reblooming, though that's not a big concern for me: I'd be perfectly happy if it just grew some pretty, large, mottled leaves. (The orchid that I really want to see blooming is the Brassolaeliocattleya, which has produced some excitingly large leaves recently, but there's no sign of blooms yet.) Does small, dark green leaves sound like anything specific to the orchid growers in the audience?


lynn'sgarden said...

So cool how one bloom can have so many different designs...pretty picture, indeed! And though orchids are one of my favorite flowers (to admire), I grow very few so not able to help out with your question...good luck!

whygreenberg said...

In terms of the mottling, your Paph may not be getting enough light. Paphs are known as low-light orchids, but they need more light than people think. They can take as much light if not a little more than Phalaenopsis in my experience. Are you keeping it watered regularly? Perhaps it's not getting the water or nutrients it needs to grow fuller-sized leaves?

D Elzinga said...

Speaking from ignorance, regrowing smaller, dark green leaves sounds like a reaction to low light.

mr_subjunctive said...


I'm not sure how to answer about light, because I'm not sure how much it's actually getting. It's on a high shelf near a west window, which gets some direct sun in the afternoon, though because the plant is on a high shelf, it may not see any until fairly late in the day, or possibly it doesn't see any at all. It's been enough light for the Brassolaeliocattleya to grow new large leaves, and enough for the Dendrobium to bloom, if weakly, though, so I had been assuming it was probably sufficient. Maybe even excessive.

The water and fertilizer thing sounds more likely to be the issue; I have a very tough time gauging how wet or dry it is, because the medium it's in (fairly coarse bark) doesn't really permit me to just feel the soil like I would with my other plants. So it gets watered when that particular group of plants gets watered, which is about every thirteen days. Probably not often enough, but I'm more scared of rotting it out by overwatering than I am of stunting it by underwatering. And I've been using an inconsistently-applied 14-14-14 Osmocote fertilizer, at less than recommended strength, so that might explain things too.

The location it's in presently also tends to get warmer than a lot of the rest of the house (not sure how much warmer -- maybe 78-80F instead of 72-74F?); I could move it to the basement under artificial lights if that would help. The basement tends to run around 68-70F, but it's warm enough for Calathea, Coffea, etc., so it'd probably be okay for Paphiopedilum. And the lighting would be a bit more controllable down there, and it wouldn't dry out as fast. Good idea? Bad idea?

Paul said...

Are the leaves of your Blc also dark green? If yes then you will need to up the light for it. The leaves should be a light green.

For the Paph, you could try switching to a clear pot. That way you could keep an eye on the roots as well as watch for moisture condensation on the inside of the pot to give you an idea of how moist it is or isn't.

mr_subjunctive said...


No, the Blc. leaves are light green.

I think I have a clear plastic pot floating around here somewhere, but for that to be useful for watching moisture levels, I'll have to move the plant somewhere else. The present location is high enough that I can't see it particularly well. Would the basement work, you think?

Rainforest Gardener said...

It could just be because some of the roots have died after getting used to a new situation. I would be happy with the mottled green leaves too and the fleshy roots of orchids are my favorite part anyway. Flowers are a neat bonus!

whygreenberg said...

If the Dendrobium is blooming and receiving the same light as the Paph, it's probably either enough light or too much.

The temp and fertilizer levels sound totally fine to me, actually. Paphs can do warmer even that that, and are less tolerant of fertilizer/salt build up than other orchids.

Definitely sounds to me like it's not getting enough water. Especially if it's getting a lot of light and warm temps (and if it's getting any air movement). During summer (for my orchids that means mid-80s), I water my Paphs twice a week. But they also get pretty constant air movement from a nearby humidifier fan.

Paul's suggestion about the clear pot is a good idea for actually seeing what the moisture is like down in the pot. (And just because I don't want to assume anything, do you have it in a plastic pot instead of a terra cotta pot? Plastic pot is good for Paphs to help retain moisture. Being porous, clay let's too much moisture evaporate.)

mr_subjunctive said...


It's been in a clay pot since I got it, because that's what they sold it to me in and there's been no indication that it was outgrowing that one. I do have plenty of plastic pots of the same size around, so I can at least do that much, even if I can't find the clear one.

There is likely some air movement; we have a ceiling fan in that room, going 24/7. Though there are enough plants around the paph that I'm uncertain about how much air circulation that would be.

It's due for a watering today, so maybe I'll repot into the clear plastic too, and we'll see if that helps things.

mr_subjunctive said...

whygreenberg & paul:

And thank you both for the advice. Much appreciated.

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ said...

Mr. S., I would repot as you plan and move it in the basement under the artificial light. If you could feed it orchid food weekly weakly it would help too. Keep us posted!

whygreenberg said...

I myself would definitely repot into the plastic. Will also give you a chance to see what condition the roots are in. Paphs, unlike a lot of orchids, don't seem to mind their roots being disturbed from the repotting process and won't sulk.

And you are most welcome, Mr. Subjunctive! Many thanks for your thoroughly enjoyable blog.

Blueszz said...

Half a year ago I repotted all my Paphiopedilums into Sphagnum moss. Watering is easy. As soon as the top layer starts to dry or is crunchy, I water them again. I have them in translucent pots, never saw such great roots. With bark I always had the problem that it was too wet or too dry. When it's dry, or the air is dry, the new roots died even before they really took off. Now they are in moss... just wooow... See it yourself:

Current pot size is 5.5 inch for the plant in the picture (the leaves are from I think I Peperomia).

In the big pot the surface tends to dry out too fast, so I added LECA on top. In smaller pots, like the 3 inch pots I don't have to do that. Water them every time the top layer starts to dry so they stay fairly moist all the time.

I too would say it's a fertilizer/water/light problem. Mine can take much more light than Phalaenopsis without getting burned or getting pale green.

Bluesszz said...

Sorry, link to the picture didn't work:

Patricia said...

I am by no means an orchid guru; but, is there a reason you cannot move it outside? I grow all my orchids (20 or so) outside here in Central Florida; and they do very well. They did better when we were in Key West, but that has the absolute perfect conditions for most orchids there. They must have air circulation, and they like the warm, moist temps here. We have ours hanging on an arbor my husband built off his office that faces North. They were even getting too much sun there so we put a shade screen over the arbor to filter the sun and they appear to love it. They like to eat; I fertilize mine monthly and have all mine in wooden, slated baskets hanging.

ALP said...

Love your blog. Love it. Love it. Love it - we have a similar eye when it comes to photography. Linking to you today. Found you via a search to identify one of the sedums running rampant in my yard.

One more time: Love. The. Blog.

mr_subjunctive said...


Well, the plant has been repotted, and it looks like it was probably mainly a watering problem. Either the bark it was planted in had broken down badly, or it was in part bark, part potting mix (!?), so there was a layer at the bottom that was soaking wet, and then the bark above that was dry. There was a single root, about two inches (5 cm) long, and that was it -- the remains of a couple prior roots of about the same size were there, but only the one still alive.

So it was sort of both over- and underwatered, in that the soil had accumulated at the bottom and apparently didn't drain at all, but the region where the roots actually lived was way too dry. You'd think this would average out to perfect, but apparently not.

So now it's in a clear plastic 4-inch pot, and I gave it a mix of bark like it had and coconut hulls, because that's what I had available. It's sort of more convenient for me to have it in the plant room, where it's been, so I'm not planning to move it to the basement just yet, but I may give it a different spot in the plant room if I can find one.


I'd actually forgotten I had sphagnum moss until after I was done repotting. Oh well.


If my life depended on it, yes, I could probably find a way to keep the plant outside. But there aren't currently any very good spots (most of what's available gets too much direct sun, and would burn the plant before it was able to acclimate, if it could acclimate), and I am very bad about remembering to water plants which happen to be outside, especially when it's so hot that they need water once or twice a day. The plant would no doubt prefer to be outside, but it has a better chance of seeing September if it stays in.