Re: Get Some Giselas

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Abgeschickt von Marcin Wielicki am 29 April, 2002 um 22:33:57

Antwort auf: Re: Get Some Giselas von Paul Perakos am 29 April, 2002 um 21:19:41:


I agree with Paul, that it is easier to master growing of Cypripedium with species other than C.acaule. Anyway, since you have already plants in your hands, please read carefully the article below. I hope it helps.

With best wishes,


The following has been contributed by Eric Muehlbauer for the Orchid FAQs for the consumption of the Teeming Millions (tm). It is worthy of note that a large number of cypripediums are now available commercially, and C. acaule will probably come soon (if it is not already available). By "commercially," I refer to plants in flask, which must have been propagated artificially. Many companies sell C. acaule and other native species of orchids with dubious pedigrees, some of which are undoubtedly dug, many of which may have been dug illegally, or without a landowner's permission.

It is highly suggested that commercial labs such as Spangle Creek Labs or Carson Whitlow's "Cyp Haven" be contacted prior to purchasing native Cyps. Conservation is key to the preservation of our natural populations of orchids.

Eric Muehlbauer

Notes on the Garden Cultivation of Cypripedium acaule in Eastern Long Island

In recent years, improved propagation techniques have made many species, and even some hybrids, of Cypripedium available to the home gardener. Formerly perceived as difficult, many species, most notably C.parviflorum v. pubescens and C. formosanum are proving to be relatively easy plants to grow and maintain. The exception to this new concept of easy cultivation is Cypripedium acaule, whose strict environmental requirements have long led it to be considered one of the most challenging, if not impossible, of all garden plants to grow. It has been the experience of this author that C. acaule, if given the proper conditions is in fact, one of the easiest, if not the easiest, of Cypripediums to grow and bloom.

The most important sign that C. acaule is amenable to garden culture is its presence as a native plant in the vicinity. If acaule has been sighted in the area, and, most importantly, the gardening area is typical of the environment and has not been altered by construction or landscapers, then cultivation should not pose any difficulty.

The author's garden is located in Cutchogue, on the North Fork of Eastern Long Island, in New York State. Except for a small lawn area and a rock garden, the property has not been altered by developers, landscapers, or the author. Most of the 200 x 50 foot property is natural oak-hickory forest, to which has been added rhododendrons, azaleas, and other shrubs, as well as assorted wildflowers and cultivated perennials. The native plants, consisting of oaks, hickories, mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum trilobum), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and others have been left in place. The soil is almost pure sand, with a top layer of oak leaf humus. The pH is extremely acidic, 3.9, and very low in nutrients (table 1). Rainfall tends to be very scarce during the summer. While the summer of 1996 was unusually wet, more typical summers bring only a few centimeters of rain during June, July, and August. The most extreme was the summer of 1995, in which no rain fell at all between late July and mid-September.

The C. acaule planted in the garden were originally purchased as single growths, propagated by a company called The Wildflower Source. They were planted in mid-October, about ten and eleven years ago. One plant was purchased in the spring and placed in a pot, as it had already started growing. It remained in the pot for the summer, and was planted in October. The plants are sited under oak trees, where they remain in dappled shade for the entire day. However, the earliest stages of growth, between mid-April and early May occur in much brighter light, before the trees leaf out.

Other than a bloom on the pot-grown plant, the next season or two involved only vegetative growth.

Since then, the plants have continued to bloom every season in late May. Each plant puts up a minimum of five growths and four blooms. The flowers are large and very fragrant, especially in the afternoon. At least three flowers in each clump are pollinated every year, using pollen from the native plants nearby. Several pods are sent out to Spangle Creek and other laboratories for propagation, and at least one pod each year is allowed to ripen and disperse seed naturally. Contrary to other observations, these plants do not appear to be set back in their blooming by pollination and pod development. Perhaps this is due to the early harvest of most pods, usually in late August. However, several native plants are also pollinated each year, also without loss of blooms in the following season.

The plants require no special maintenance. They are not fertilized or treated with any chemicals. Except for occasional slug damage in early spring, they are free of any pests or diseases. This is in marked contrast to Cypripediums grown in New York City, where fungal diseases usually blast the buds of acaule and frequently kill both acaule and reginae. The lack of fungal disease may be due to the drier environment in Cutchogue. Orchids such as Platanthera and C. reginae grown in artificial bogs frequently show fungal damage in Cutchogue as well. Supplemental water is given during dry periods in order to ensure good production of viable seed. Formerly, the plants received no supplemental water, even during dry summers. The plants themselves showed no stress at all, but no viable seed was produced. Subsequent years with more water produced fertile pods with good quantities of seed. Well water in Cutchogue is normally soft and somewhat acidic. However, prolonged drought coupled with heavy agricultural water usage may result in a decline in water quality at the end of the summer. So far, the plants have been unaffected by any changes in the water. In fact, the acaules survived a period of salt intrusion entirely unscathed, while other plants such as Rhododendron viscosum and its hybrids, and Acer palmatum were burnt and completely defoliated.

The cultivated plants are more robust than the native plants in the vicinity. Most of the wild plants consist of only one to two growths, and the leaves are smaller than on the cultivated plants. The native plants generally bloom well, although only three plants flowered in 1996, the year following the severe drought. Like many wild populations of C. acaule, individual plants appear one year and disappear the next. However, the overall number of plants has remained fairly constant. They are on private land, and the owners are aware, and appreciative, of their presence.

Overall, as can be seen, Cypripedium acaule can be a very easy species to grow when it is provided with the right conditions. The best indication of the proper conditions is the presence of native plants in the vicinity, or at least a history of their having occurred there. While the first few seasons require a little extra care, in protection from drought and rummaging squirrels, once established they are care free, low maintenance plants that can be relied on to give a beautiful display every spring.

The acaules are now living under a couple of very old and very shady dogwood trees. Following Don Jacob's suggestions, here's how I planted them.

1. Removed grass and other plants leaving as much of the topsoil as possible 
2. Added a 1-inch layer of decayed pine straw collected from the pine forest
3. Placed the acaules on this layer
4. Added another 1-inch layer of decayed pine straw
5. Added 2 to 3 inches of composted bark mulch.

I didn't have composted bark mulch so I collected decaying logs from the forest, ran them through a shredder, and mixed in leaf compost and shredded, fresh tree limbs. The decayed logs were so decayed I also broke them into pieces with my hands since running them through a shredder makes them almost powdery. The portions are probably 1:1:1. I plan to add some lime as Don suggested, although he states that this should be done only when the area gets at least 50 inches of rain a year. I will also fertilize with a diluted solution soon and again in the spring when the acaules come back. I will also add a layer of pine straw just before the first frost.

In addition to the acaules, I rescued Malaxis unifolia, Tipularia discolor, and Goodyera pubescens and some other non-orchid native plants. I have permission to go back in the spring if the property isn't developed and look for other natives.

Next spring, I'll give you an update on what comes back. If you would like some acaule seed for micropropagation, let me know.

Eric Muehlbauer

65-16 Cromwell Crescent
Rego Park, NY 11374

Table 1: Nutrient Analysis of Soil in C. acaule Habitat
Soil Test Numerical Amount (in pounds per acre (#/A). Soil analysis performed by Cornell Cooperative Extension) and Relative Level

pH 3.9 very low
Nitrate 8 very low
Phosphorus 1 very low
Potassium 75 low
Magnesium 60 medium
Calcium 290 very low
Aluminum 104 normal
Iron 67 normal
Manganese 7 very low
Zinc 2 high
Organic Matter 4.4% medium



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