A Complete Guide to Growing Lady Slipper Orchids


Use Rich Soil

Often referred to as the American Moccasin Flower, Parker says lady slippers should only be planted in soil that’s rich with natural minerals and nutrients. «They like a nice uniform amount of soil with a lot of organic matter,» she explains. «This way the roots will grow strong and thick, and as the plant matures, it will become more robust and send up even more spikes of leaf and gorgeous bloom.»

Plant in Indirect Light

While some plants blossom in direct sunlight, our expert says these require a bit of shade to grow properly. «Direct sunlight should be limited,» Parker says. «As they are woodland nymphs, they love it underneath tall trees, such as Maple, Ash and Oak, or a Beech. However, they probably won’t do that well under pine trees because they do not fare well in acidic soil.» Godfrey adds: «It does well in direct morning or dappled sunshine and thrives in bright, indirect light

Keep Soil Moist

Once you’ve planted your flowers out of direct sunlight, Godfrey says it’s essential to keep the soil damp—not soggy. «Keep the soil moist, never dry or sitting in water,» he says. «If the surrounding soil doesn’t drain well, make sure to mound the plant enough for the roots to drain. If the soil is too heavy to drain, use composted mulch to amend it.»

Beware of Insects

Like it or not, Parker says the shape of lady slippers makes them magnets for insects, so be sure to keep an eye out for hungry pests that might see them as dinner. «They have leaves that hang down like wings and attract insects,» she says. «They tend to crawl into the labellum, or the pouch, which resembles a little shoe or a slipper.»

Only Pick Them from Your Own Garden

According to Parker, picking this plant from anyone’s garden other than your own isn’t just a faux pas—it’s a crime. «Lady slippers have very special horticultural requirements that make them delicate and very difficult to cultivate,» she says. «It’s illegal to dig or pick them if you find them growing—anywhere.»



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