Is It Time To Slip Into Something...More Comfortable? - Phragmipedium schlimii

 |Phragmipedium schlimii floral detail|

|Phragmipedium schlimii floral detail|

That's right.  Let yourself go.  Fall into a kaleidoscope of color.  But where are you headed?  Where will you end up?  You are going to a place of chic grandeur, far far away from the ordinary.  A place that soothes the soul and opens the mind with its stylish beauty.  Welcome to the fashionable fantasia of Phragmipedium schlimii. Phragma-what you say?  Phragmipedium schlimii is part of a group of elegant plants commonly referred to as South American Slipper Orchids.  This orchid comes from a history of obsession and greed.  One such species of it was discovered in Peru in 1981.  Once word got out, orchid hunters and paparazzi went wild, pillaging and destroying the site where it was found.  These orchids have the power to move or destroy mountains, so-to-speak.  Their beauty is that special!  Luckily, they are still with us by the power of  loving cultivation.  Why not grow some?!

 |Phragmipedium schlimii floral profile|

|Phragmipedium schlimii floral profile|

Phragmipedium schlimii is yet another reason why the world should fall in love with flowers.  Something about the slipper shape is enchanting...like a fairy tale.  This particular slipper orchid comes to us from the Andes mountains running through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.  It grows as a terrestrial orchid on narrow hillsides in lower elevation tropical forests that receive bright light and ample soil moisture. Phragmipedium schlimii produce fan-shaped, strap-like foot long foliage.  Its pleated leaf radiates a fresh, grass-green finish.  It produces tall flower stems that can hold anywhere from 5 to 8 buds.  Velvety flowers open up 2 inches across with a white base color stained and freckled in arousing rose hues blazoned with a lemon colored keel.  Again, mother nature gives us another chic example of exotic elegance.

 |Phragmipedium schlimii bud + flower + foliage|

|Phragmipedium schlimii bud + flower + foliage|

Phragmipedium schlimii likes bright light conditions and to be planted in either pure sphagnum moss, orchid bark mixed with pea-sized aggregate, or hydroponic expanded clay pellets.  Preferring bog-like conditions, it likes constant moisture, humidity, and warm temps (upper 50's fahrenheit/14 degrees celsius to upper 70's fahrenheit/25 degrees celsius).  Phragmipedium, in general, are sensitive to water. Distilled water works well.  It definitely is a greenhouse candidate.  But not all of us have a greenhouse handy.  So for those seeking the glory and grandeur of horticultural adventure, try growing it indoors in a deep plastic container and place that container in a shallow saucer with 2 inches of water.  Keep that water level as constant as you can but be sure to flush old standing water.  I hear that it can thrive in this scenario.  So I'm going to give it a go (going to an orchid sale tomorrow).  I'll let you know how it goes.  Stay tuned...