Specializing in the genus Cypripedium


Vermont Ladyslipper Company & Cypripedium FAQS

Here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions of us
.... and here too are the Answers...
Q.What is the latin genus name for lady's slipper?
A.The latin genus name for lady's Slipper is Cypripedium. Pronounced
Sip ` RÈ ` Pee ` Dee ` UM. There are presently approximately 45 recognized species within the genus Cypripedium. That's forty-Five different kinds of Lady's Slippers! Cypripediums or lady's slippers occur naturally (although in diminishing numbers to due to habitat loss) in the northern temperate climates of North America, Europe and Asia. To see a sampling of the different species, please see our [PHOTO GALLERY].

Q.When will you ship my Lady's Slippers?
A.Our lady's slippers are customarily shipped twice a year In Spring (April) and Fall (October through mid November) with Fall being a larger shipping season than Spring.

We don't know what species will be mature and in what numbers, until late May/early June of any given year. Therefore, at that time we post on our web site additional species and size availability for shipment in Fall.

In general, if the species is listed as AVAILABLE on our [CYPRIPEDIUMS FOR SALE] area of our web site, you may place an order for that species NOW.

Q.When and What Species Can I Order?
For shipment in Spring we typically begin taking orders mid to late January. For shipment in Fall we typically begin taking orders in late May/early June.

In general, if the species is listed as AVAILABLE on our [CYPRIPEDIUMS FOR SALE] area of our web site, you may place an order for that species.

Q.How much do the Lady's Slippers co$t?

The Pricing for the Lady's Slippers can be found on the [CYPRIPEDIUMS FOR SALE] area of our web site. Click on the individual species name for pricing on that AVAILABLE species.

Q.How Do I Order my Lady's Slippers?
For shipment in the U.S. please see the [ORDER/SHIPPING] area of this web site for all the details!

Q.Do You Ship Internationally?
Yes. For shipment to international destinations, please select the [INTERNATIONAL ORDER/SHIPPING] area of this web site for the details.

Q.What does C.I.T.E.S. stand for?
C.I.T.E.S. is an acronym for the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. Endangered Species listed by the Convention require a CITES export permit in order for these plants to be shipped internationally. In accordance with CITES regulations and for shipment of our plants outside the USA, Vermont Ladyslipper Company has a CITES export permit. For shipment to international destinations, please select the [INTERNATIONAL ORDER/SHIPPING] area of this web site for the details.

Q.Does Vermont Ladylsipper Co. have a catalogue or e-mail list?
A.Regretably, at present, we have our catalogue on-line only. To see what species are available, please see the [CYPRIPEDIUMS FOR SALE]   area of this web site.

Q.Can I grow your Cypripediums outdoors?
A.Yes, absolutely! In fact it is best. They are northern temperate climate terrestrial orchids and not house plants. Cypripediums require, at a very minimum, a 4 month winter's rest (cold dormancy period) in order to complete their natural growth cycle. Check our recommended USDA growing zones for plants offered for sale.

Q.How does Vermont Ladyslipper grow their Cypripediums?
A.All of our Cypripediums are 100% laboratory propagated from seed by Vermont Ladyslipper Company using in-vitro techniques many of which were pioneered by our Company and then grown to maturity in our nursery greenhouses. They are not divisions of, nor salvaged, wild collected plants. To be sure that Cyps are indeed laboratory propagated, photographic evidence showing the progression from small seedlings to mature plants, in reasonable commercial numbers, should be shown. Show me the greenhouses! [GREENHOUSES]  

Q.I've heard that you need a special mycorrhyzae fungus in your soil to grow these . Is this true?

Cypripediums, like all orchids, begin their life cycle when their seed (pro-embryo) is invaded by a microscopic fungus (endophyte). Since orchid seed has no endosperm (stored starch reserves that kick start most other plant species), the fungus in essence forms a surrogate root system for the seed.

If the soil nutrient levels and pH are correct, the fungus becomes a symbiont and provides small amounts of carbohydrates to the growing seed(protocorm). This is a very delicate process whereby the fungus infiltrates the growing orchid seed to a certain stage and then the orchid seed defensively responds by producing a group of chemicals that actually dissolves the fungal filaments back.

After having its filaments dissolved, the fungus will then reattempt to invade the protocorm and supply more carbohydrates and the protocorm will grow again ever so slightly. This process is repeated until the protocorm has grown large enough to produce a small dormant eye bud and root system (seedling). Once this occurs, the following spring the cypripedium will produce it's first green leaf and begin to use photosynthesis as its primary energy source. Once the seedling relies on photosynthesis, the cypripedium will reject the micro-fungus almost completely. This heterotrophic phase can take anywhere from 3 to 7 years to occur in nature. It can take an additional 5 to 10 years to reach flowering size which means the Cypripedium can take anywhere between 10 to 17 years to bloom, in the wild, from initial seed dispersion!

This above heterotrophic growth sequence only occurs when all the habitat and soil conditions are right. This is the primary reason for the natural rarity of cypripediums and not that the fungal symbiont they use is rare. Indeed, under many soil conditions, the fungus that the orchid requires can become a pathogen and destroy the orchid seed. There are several micro-fungi that have been isolated in cypripedium roots and the truth is that there are probably many more that could perform the symbiotic function given the right soil conditions.

Adult cypripediums do not require this fungus. We know this as a fact because we have grown 10's of thousands at Vermont Ladyslipper Company without it. We germinate the seed and grow the seedling in sterile agar cultures with plant nutrients and sugars to completely bypass the fungus requirement in infancy. These are the same techniques that are presently being used to produce large commercial quantities of tropical orchids.

Therefore, if you have a healthy adult cypripedium (Many for sale at Vermont Ladyslipper Company of Course!) and know the soil and pH requirements for the species in question, you can grow any cypripedium successfully in a garden without it's corresponding micro-fungus.

All this being said though, it is still of the utmost importance for all gardeners to do what they can to save what remains of natural cypripedium habitat so the genus can survive into the future. At this point the world needs to save and actually repair what has been lost of our natural environments. Orchids are wonderful indicator species to show us how much still needs to be done. Therefore,we are actively encouraging people to attempt to start new colonies in promising habitats with our plants that may reproduce naturally and actually BOOST the number of Cypripediums. We believe that we can actually stop and reverse the decline of this genus by applying our knowledge base and production techniques.

Q.I've noticed that Cypripediums tend to be higher priced than other northern perennials.
Why is that ?

A.Our laboratory propagated Cypripediums spend their first year in our highly controlled sterile lab and an additional 4 to 5 years growing under cultivation in our greenhouses. All this coupled, with moving them each Spring and Fall to properly vernalize them amounts to a lengthy, laborious and substantial investment. Because one of Vermont Ladyslipper Co.'s primary goal is conservation, we purposely keep our prices, as low as possible, keeping in mind the considerable cost to do research and grow them to maturity. The upside to this is that no wild populations are ever disturbed and you receive a fully intact whole rhizome (root system) that has grown its entire life-cycle under cultivation. We thank you so much for your patience and patronage!

Q.How do I grow your lady's slippers?
A.All of our customer's orders are accompanied by our recommended planting and cultivation instructions. They detail what we have found to work well for us and impart our substantial knowledge and experience on how to successfully grow these beautiful native orchids. Just be sure to check your USDA growing zone to see if it matches our recommended USDA growing zones for the particular species ordered.

Q.What do the emerging Showy Lady's Slippers look like in my garden ? When should I expect to see anything coming up ?
A.The Cypripedium reginae is one of the last Springtime flowers to emerge. Even within the lady's slipper family it is a late bloomer with the Pink and Yellow Lady's Slippers long gone before it emerges/ blooms. You shouldn't expect to see any activity/emergence until about mid May or later especially for a transplanted perennial.
Cyp. reginae emerging in Spring
Photo by Paul Perakos ©

Q.Does Vermont Ladyslipper sell Cypripedium seed?

A.No, sorry. Cypripedium seed requires specialized equipment and techniques to germinate the seed.

Q.Does Vermont Ladyslipper sell Cypripedium seedlings?
A.No, sorry. Since Cypripedium seedlings require lengthy specialized care, we sell only mature garden friendly plants.

Q.What Species do you have available for sale?
A.We presently have approximately 20 Cypripedium or Lady Slipper species in production and they are maturing albeit slowly. We wish we could will them to grow faster! It typically takes 4 to 6 years for a laboratory propagated Cypripedium to mature and reach flowering size. We will advertise whenever a species becomes available for sale in the [CYPRIPEDIUMS FOR SALE] area of this web site. Please...If you don't see the species offered there, it is not yet mature and available for sale. Thank you for your patience! We will have many more species (North American and Asian) species to offer in the coming seasons. Kindly visit our web site, regularly, to get all the most up-to-date news. The gate is always open!

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