Mexipedium xerophyticum

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Grand Chupacabra
Dec 26, 2012
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Central North Carolina
Mexipedium xerophyticum

Mexipedium xerophyticum is one of those rare plants that can be considered a succulent and an orchid. In the most strict sense of the word, I suppose that these aren't truly succelents despite the implications of the species name, xerophyticum -- the base word xerophyte is a term that's usually used for plants that grow in in very dry dessert conditions. These ladyslipper orchids are actually found in relatively moist oases in the Oxaca region of Mexico.

The Ladyslipper Orchids are comprised of the following genera: Phragmipedium, Selenipedium, Mexipedium, Paphiopedilum, and Cypripedium. Most genera are tropical, except Cypripediums, which grow in temperate regions (and some subtropical areas) throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

At one point Mexipedium xerophyticum was thought to be extinct in the wild because the only known location that they grew succumb to wild fire, but they've recently been rediscovered. This is a fairly recently discovered species, and Mexipedium is a monotypical genus (there's only 1 species of Mexipedium). It was initially classified as a Phragmipedium (another tropical South American slipper genus), and is now believed to be a bit of an evolutionary "missing link" between the old world slippers (Paphiopedilum) and the new world slippers (Phragmipedium).

The individual growths (fans) are quite small, but emerge on long stolons. It's tough to keep this species in a pot. I'm growing mine in a bonsai pot, and I have to work hard to persuade the growths to stay inside. The potting mix is mostly fine grade fir bark, mixed with charcoal and perlite. I've added lots of egg shell and aragonite to increase the calcium levels. The flowers appear on dainty spikes that emerge in Spring. Spikes can be branched, although this plant has yet to produce branched spikes. The flowers are extremely small compared to all other slipper orchids. These bloom sequentially like most Phragmipediums, where individual flowers only last a week or few, and drop off after the newest bloom opens.

I am no expert in growing this species, but I keep it drier in the winter, and water frequently this time of year (summer). Nevertheless, rot is an always present threat for a perpetual over waterer like myself. They like bright light. I grow this plant indoors under 4 foot LED shoplights, and that seems to be sufficient to get the plant to bloom. Growing indoors, my plants don't receive extreme temperatures. However, in the winter, things tend to be 10F - 15F cooler at night than during the day, and in summer, temps fluctuate around 5F or less day and night. Average daytime temps are between 70F (21C) - 80F (27C). I fertilize regularly from Spring to mid Fall (March - October in northern hemisphere).

In winter, this plant gets slightly cooler temps, significantly reduced watering, and no fertilizer.

Mexipedium xerophyticum is not too hard to find, but can be quite expensive. It's not uncommon to see a single growth mature sized plant going for $35 USD to $50 USD. Outside of North America, prices can be even higher. If you're buying one, don't bother with young seedlings unless you're an experienced grower. These can be very finicky and tricky to grow. Mature, blooming sized plants are much more forgiving.

These aren't the best photos. Unfortunatly, I didn't take any better pics. These are from mid May 2017, and the plant just dropped its last flower today. There were 2 spikes.



Great - well done. I wouldn't dare. Always nice to see successful growers of this endangered species.
Very nice and thanks for the info. Which clone is this?
Great idea growing in a bonsai pot!!
Thanks for the info.
Has anyone tried this s/h?

I'm guessing it would do okay in s/h, but I'm not sure how/if the technique needs to be adapted for Mexipedium's needs.

Both of my plants have been very prone to rot and/or bacterial infections in the winter, so I cut way back on watering and I'm really careful to keep water off the leaves & stolons for several months.
Nice flower count. I can't get mine to flower (yet):(

I was actually surprised to see the spikes show up starting in March or April (note: these photos are from May). When I bought this plant last summer it was in bloom, but that was closer to mid-July or mid-August.

I've got a smaller plant that I've had for about 2 years now, and it seems to be hesitant to flower as well. I grow them more or less side by side so they're receiving the same care. I think Mexipediums mostly just need to be nice and large multigrowth plants before they start to bloom reliably.