This orchid may very well be my favorite of all I grow. It is Phragmipedium besseae var. flavum; a species native to Peru, Columbia, and Ecuador. It grows in montane forests on the slopes of the Andes Mountains. I fell in love with this orchid when I received my first orchid book, where they showed a picture of the red form of this flower. It was discovered in 1984 and since then has caused quite a stir in the orchid world. When first introduced it was being sold for thousands of dollars. To this day an excellent clone of this species can demand a hefty price. Several years after its discovery, the yellow variety; known as flavum form was found. The two color forms are integral in modern Phragmipedium breeding due to their ability to impart red or yellow color, as well as a rounder shape and horizontal petal stance. They are beautiful to see and a pleasure to grow. I recommend them to anyone who loves slipper orchids! To learn more about orchids and orchid growing contact the American Orchid Society or your local Orchid Society.
Required Light: In the greenhouse I use 50% shade cloth and have it in a spot where it gets mostly morning and afternoon sun but not midday. Under artificial lights like T5 fluorescents I recommend it be 16” underneath at least two 4 foot T5 bulbs.
Temperature: This orchid prefers night-time temperatures to be between 55° F – 70° F. Daytime temperatures should be kept at or below 80°F to mimic its natural environment.
Humidity: Best kept at 60% RH or higher.
Required Watering: Depending on environmental factors, 2-3 times a week or more under normal conditions. More waterings are generally necessary when it is hotter in the growing environment. Clean water is a must for this orchid so rain water is a great choice or a Reverse Osmosis water filter may be necessary depending on your water quality.
Fertilizer: Should be applied at ¼ strength every other week. I prefer to use the Grow More brand of fertilizers.
Potting: Should be done annually as you see new roots just starting to emerge from the newest pseudoblulb(s.) I use a mixture of 4 parts coconut husk chips, 2 parts #4 Perlite, and 1 part Hydroton. Also I prefer plastic pots as they will not dry out as fast allowing the roots to stay comfortably moist.