How Often Do Lady Slippers Bloom?

Lady slippers – also known as slipper orchids, are one of the more rare, exquisite plant choices seen in gardening. While they make for excellent decoration and are a feast for the eyes of many, they are less commonly known among the gardening community, and so many questions about them remain unanswered. For instance, new gardeners wonder how often lady slippers bloom.

Most varieties of lady slippers tend to bloom annually. They start blooming in late April and bloom throughout May. They are typically in full bloom by June. However, some may not bloom every year. Additionally, it can take several years for the first bloom to occur. 

In this article, I will go into further detail on how often lady slippers bloom, the factors that can affect their bloom health and quality, and answer some frequently asked questions along the way. Keep on reading to learn more about Lady Slippers.

How Often Lady Slippers Bloom

Most varieties of lady slippers, such as the more popular Paphipedilum, tend to bloom annually. With the exception of the occasional intermediary rest cycle, you can expect them to bloom every year.

This variety of lady slippers is very popular among gardeners because of the annual bloom and because the process of caring for and maintaining them is relatively straightforward. You can’t go wrong with these.

However, that might not be the case for all varieties of lady slippers.

With some of the other varieties, such as Cypripedium, you may find that the plant tends to bloom once every few years. It is because this variety, in particular, tends to bloom only a few times throughout its long lifespan, especially in the wild.

If you’re planning to plant and grow Cypripedium varieties from scratch, you may also not have them bloom the first year. In fact, it is rather unlikely for them to bloom so early because the seed germination can take extremely long (up to several years) because the process relies on soil fungi and is slow by nature.

Hybrid varieties are highly likely to overcome this issue and allow you to have lady slipper orchards that will bloom every year and grow plentifully.

Fortunately, you can choose which lady slipper variety to get and can be informed of the expected blooming frequency before opting to go for a particular genus or species.

As for the blooms themselves, when lady slippers do bloom, they tend to start blooming later in April. They then proceed to develop their bloom throughout May and are typically in full bloom by June. The blooms then slowly fade away in a few months. You can use this time to repot your lady slipper.

All varieties and cultivars of lady slippers are perennials and actually tend to live for quite a while as long as they receive appropriate care. So although you may not see their blooms this year, you might still see them the following year or maybe the year after that.

How To Get The Most Out of Your Lady Slippers

Now that you have a better idea of how often the slippers will bloom, let’s also look at what you can do to maximize their beauty and health during the blooming phase.

The overall health conditions of the plant will have a tangible impact on the quality of its flowers during the blooming period. By ensuring that the orchid remains in good health during its growing phase, you can ensure a glorious bloom when the time comes.


Lady slippers require a moderate amount of sun, which, in practice, means you should allow them a few hours of sunlight a day, preferably dappled sunlight underneath a tree with moderately dense foliage.

It would be best to have them positioned so that after they have received a few hours of sunlight, they come under partial shade. 

You should be especially careful about scorching afternoons. Those can certainly cause a great deal of harm to your lady slippers. You’ll notice signs of damage from excessive sunlight if the leaves and flowers begin to turn yellow or brown.

It helps to remember that lady slippers tend to be protected from harsh sunlight by the forest canopy when they do grow in the wild, and they have evolved as such. Excessive sunlight is a potential risk and is something you’ll have to be careful of.


Given that lady slippers have a shallow root system that does not extend too deep into the soil, overwatering is relatively not as common of an issue. Just make sure that water does not stagnate in the soil you use. Like with most other garden plants, your soil should be able to drain water well.

Not getting enough water, on the other hand, is a potential risk. Orchids tend to not have a great ability to store water for themselves, so they can dry up quickly when supply is cut off. Having soil that retains moisture is ideal. 

If you have the right soil, watering once per week should be good enough. However, you might want to water them more often during hotter summer temperatures.

Again, while you want to retain moisture, you do not want stagnant water that can damage the root system. Humus-like soil is suitable due to its excellent balance between water retention and drainage.

Soil and Repotting

The ideal soil type for lady slippers is well-drained, moist, light, and crumbly. Hard, dense soil is undesirable and should be treated with organic matter to make it more suitable for lady slippers before planting.

People tend not to like the idea of repotting a plant. The more knowledgeable gardeners may also object to repotting delicate plants, such as lady slippers.

However, keeping your lady slippers in the same pot for an extended period of time can restrict necessary root growth. The soil mixture also tends to break down as time goes by, so repotting becomes important. 

The question is how often you should replant them. The answer is every one or two years. Every two years should suffice as long as you don’t see any aerial roots. These are roots that have extended out of the soil and into the air. Seeing them coming out of your plant is a good indication that it’s about time you repotted your lady slipper.

The ideal time to repot your lady slipper is right after the blooming season. This will allow the plant ample time to adjust to the new pot and grow adequately for the next blooming season.

The Lady Slipper and Endangerment

If you have been into gardening for a while, you might have heard that lady slippers are endangered and that it is actually against the law to pick them. 

While it is true that some species of lady slippers are indeed endangered, it would be more accurate to say that lady slippers, in general, are especially at risk for endangerment. To be more precise, the wild species of lady slippers are endangered.

There are several reasons for their endangerment, but one of the more prominent ones is that they have an extremely low transplantation success rate. Transplanting a wild lady slipper orchard into another location seldom works out. 

The main reason for this is that they rely on a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship with the fungus in the soil to germinate. When moved to different soil, such as rich garden soil, they cannot re-establish this relationship and, consequently, do not survive very long.

In addition, they have special climate requirements and have unfortunately faced a significant loss of habitat over the years.

As for it being illegal to pick them, it is now considered for that to have been a myth. While you are unlikely to get in legal trouble for picking a lady slipper, it is something still frowned upon and should be rightfully discouraged.

Final Thoughts

Lady Slippers typically bloom annually and live for a pretty long time. Varieties such as the Paphipedilum tend to bloom annually. However, some varieties, such as wild Cypripediums, might not bloom as frequently.

When they do bloom, they tend to bloom during April, May, and June. They are usually in full bloom by June. Their flowers then slowly fade away in the following few months.

To improve the quality of their bloom, improve their year-long health by providing appropriate water, sunlight, and soil conditions. It also helps to repot them whenever necessary.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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