This is Paphiopedilum rothschildianum, a species native to Borneo and found only on remote locations of Mount Kinabalu. This slipper orchid is sometimes called the “King of all orchids”; its large size (up to 1 foot across) and majestic, bold coloration make it a true wonder to behold. There is an interesting story to how this particular species came into cultivation. The story goes that it was originally collected back in 1887 and brought into cultivation in Europe. The original location of where the plants were collected was falsified by the plant collector Sander & Sons, who gave the location of New Guinea in order to keep rival collectors from getting hold of the plant. For the next 60 years the plant’s true location remained a mystery. Then quite by accident a population of this beautiful slipper orchid was found at the base of Mt. Kinabalu. This orchid has been line bred for improved size and color, and a good specimen of this species can easily command thousands of dollars per growth. Although it is not easy or fast to grow the beauty of it when it does flower is well worth the cost and the time. 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 60° F – 70° F. Daytime temperatures should be kept at or below 85°F to avoid problems.
Humidity: Best kept at 60% RH or higher.
Required Watering: Depending on environmental factors, 1-2 times a week or more under normal conditions. More watering is 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 growth(s.) I use a mixture of 4 parts coconut husk chips, 2 parts #4 Perlite, and 1 part Viastone. Also I prefer plastic pots as they will not dry out as fast allowing the roots to stay comfortably moist.