Q: We own some property on which there is a big area of pink and white Lady’s Slippers. What can you tell me about their care?
A: There are two Lady’s Slipper orchids you might run into in the woods: Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus) and Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule).
David Funderburk, retired naturalist at Fernbank Science Center, says that you likely have the pink species, which interbreeds so readily that some may appear white and some pink. Pink Lady’s Slippers are generally found in acid soils near pine trees. They rely on a particular fungus present in the soil for their growth, so they are almost impossible to transplant.
All Lady’s Slippers may cause contact dermatitis. Enjoy them where they are, no other care is necessary. Deer enjoy eating them, so if you have large numbers of deer, your collection may wane.
Theresa Schrum notes that this plant is protected in Georgia because it is so highly desired that unscrupulous collectors are endangering wild populations. It usually takes them 10 or more years to reach flowering age. Enjoy them but don’t try to move them.