Plant of the Month for January 2021

Cypripedium parviflorum

Description and General Information:
Yellow lady's-slipper is native to much of North America and three varieties have been recognized. There is great variability in the size of the flowers, the colour of the lateral petals and the degree of lateral petal twisting. Its habitat varies from wet fens to relatively dry coniferous or deciduous forest. It also extends into the sub-alpine in the Rockies as well as the limestone barrens of Newfoundland. In all circumstances, it has a marked preference for areas overlying limestone.

Plants form clumps with ovate, ribbed leaves. The 5-10 cm wide flowers may be solitary or rarely up to three per stem. The pouch is yellow with variable red spotting near the opening of the pouch. The lateral petals may be yellow, green to dark mahogany. These may be highly twisted to completely flat. The variety makinsin is highly fragrant while the varieties pubescens and parviflorum are usually only faintly scented.

Cultivation:
This orchid requires well-drained yet evenly moist soil that is organically rich yet on the alkaline side. Full sun is best in cooler northern areas but shade is suggested for warmer regions. Most gardeners grow this orchid under woodland conditions but shaded nooks in rockeries is also suitable.

Blooming Season:
April in more southern areas to as late as July in northern.

Propagation:
Division unless you have access to in vitro seed germination

Cuttings:
N/A

Seeds:
Very specialized; requires in vitro seed germination techniques.

Division:
Larger clumps may be dug and divided in early spring. It is best to leave at least 3 eyes per division.

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