Light is a crucial element in the care of orchids. Luckily, light is not a problem when caring for orchids in the genus Paphiopedilum. Most of them grow on the forest floor in nature, so relatively low light levels suit them just fine.
My first orchid was a paphiopedilum. A friend persuaded me to go along with her when she picked up an orchid, and the sight of a greenhouse filled with flowering orchids took my breath away. I couldn’t resist! When I got my treasure home, I was terrified. It was so beautiful — what if I killed it?
I needn’t have worried. Like most Paphiopedilum, mine was an easygoing plant. It lived happily on my windowsill and bloomed every year for decades.
Most Paphiopedilum require 1000 to 2000 foot-candles of light. In my house, they flourish in any east window. In the summer, when the sunlight is very strong, I draw a lace or net curtain across the window to protect them. I don’t put them in the south windows, because the light is a little too strong. I have grown them successfully on a table just a few feet away from the window.
In the warmest months I move these orchids to a shaded area of the garden, and they seem to enjoy a few weeks outdoors! A friend in Florida grows Paphiopedilum outdoors year-round, but she’s careful to keep them in the shade.
If your Paphiopedilum is not getting enough light, the leaves will become a darker green then normal, and the leaves will be a bit limp instead of semi-erect. The plant won’t flower if it doesn’t get enough light.
Too much light can be a real problem for Paphiopedilum. The plant will become smaller and lose leaves. It may still flower, but the blooms will be small and the stem length will be short.
Providing the right light is simple when caring for Paphiopedilum. They make the care of orchids easy!