Paphiopedilum fairrieanum var. album x Paph Pat Rowland ‘White Queen’ was my first orchid from the Paphiopedilum genus. I admit approaching Paphiopedilums with some trepidation at least initially. Most culture guides read: blah blah blah, minimum of 13°C temperatures, blah blah blah, at least 70% humidity, blah blah blah, more unrealistic conditions unless you live on a tropical island. I carefully researched which plants could survive my winters. Winters which are cool but typically just about 0°C is the very coldest it ever gets. Usual July minimums are 4°C and perhaps a very light frost maybe several times each winter. Paph fairrieanum is widely known to be a cool-intermediate growing plant so the way I saw it it should do well in my conditions. I watched the plants last winter and decided most intermediate growing (and all cool growing) will survive my conditions outside all year with only frost protection. I also believe that most culture guides written for intermediate orchids are far too conservative. After all, most intermediate Paphiopedilums originate from mountainous regions of India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and China. You can guarantee minimum temperatures will be a lot less than this idealistic 15°C described in culture guides. Paph fairrieanum is a large part of the genetic makeup of the above plant. It originates from mountainous regions of India and Bhutan at elevations of up to 2,200 metres.
You’ll also read that Paphiopiedilums like full shade. I mean, what? WHAT? I can tell you I learned that over this past summer this particular plant wants more light as can be seen from the strange shape in the upright growing leaf. This leaf grew at odd angles trying to tell me it definitely wanted more light. It’s started pushing out a new leaf so the challenge over the next few months will be to try and give it more light so it grows night and straight but obviously not burned in the process. Over winter it gets 50% shade cloth and is situated under the Cattleya/Dendrobium shelf. In summer it gets an extra two lots of 50% shade cloth on the western side to diffuse the afternoon summer sun. Currently it’s potted in coconut husk chips, perlite and charcoal, however, I may change the medium when it’s repotted next spring to one with less coconut husk chips but more medium bark and some scoria (lava rock).