Lady’s slipper orchids are members of the Cypripedium genus, which includes over 350 species of this special flowering plant. About 12 species of lady’s slippers are native to North America. All are relatively rare and some are protected because of their endangered status, such as the showy lady’s slipper, which is Minnesota’s state flower. They are hardy and can tolerate cold temperatures, such as two species that occur in Alaska. Check with local ordinances before you dig any plants from the wild; the law prohibits digging or picking this orchid on federal land.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Transplant only nursery-grown lady’s slippers. It is nearly impossible to dig the entire root system of a lady’s slipper orchid growing on your property, and without it, plants will not survive.
Transplant potted lady’s slipper orchids only during their dormant season, in fall or early winter, according to an article on the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau’s website. Begin by carefully removing the plant from its pot and gently shaking the old soil from its roots.
Mix an acidic-based potting soil, such as that used for azaleas, with a handful of leaf litter and pine needles for each 1-gallon pot you are using.
Place a small amount of your potting soil mixture into the bottom of the pot into which you will move your lady’s slipper plant. Gently place the orchid in the new pot and fill it to within ½ inch of the lip with additional potting mix.
Water your plant well and keep it in an area where it will receive filtered sunlight; lady’s slippers do not thrive in either deep shade or full sun.
Do not transplant lady’s slipper orchid plants from the wild. State and federal laws prohibit this practice in most areas and your attempts will rarely be successful.
The New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau cautions that transplanting the native pink lady’s slipper orchid is rarely successful. Attempts will fail in all but about 5 percent of the cases it has studied.