Phragmipedium besseae

Source: Felix

Phragmipedium besseae

Phragmipedium besseae is a ground orchid, a member of the genus Phragmipedium, which was not discovered until 1981 in the Andes.

Because of the unusual red color of the flowers, it quickly became a highly sought-after species. Excessive harvest and shrinking habitat resulted in the species being endangered and it is now the subject of protection.

It is often used to produce hybrids.

It is part of the family Orchidaceae, sub-family Cypripedioideae, genus Phragmipedium.


The leaves are 13-30 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, dull green leaves and keeled. The rhizomes are long.

The inflorescence is up to 50 cm long, brown, hairy and bears 1-6 flowers that bloom sequentially. The flowers are 6-9 cm wide with a bag of 4 to 6.5 cm long with translucent windows.


Andes in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

Phragmipedium besseae

Source: Own work

Phragmipedium besseae


Steep cliffs of volcanic rock in the vicinity of rivers, in humid mountain forests on the eastern slope of the Andes mountains at 1,400-1,800 m altitude.


Phragmipedium: from the Greek phragma (division) and pedilon (shoe), in reference to the trilocular ovary and slipper-like labellum.
Besseae: named after Mrs. Besse, American botanist who discovered Phragmipedium besseae in the 20th century.



It is an orchid that prefers to stay cool: more than 30 °C can be fatal.

Day temperature: 20-25 °C
Night temperature: 15-17 °C

Provide a clear distinction between day and night. In its habitat, the difference between day and night temperature is greater than the seasonal differences.


In its habitat it enjoys bright indirect sunlight. A place on a window facing east where the hot midday sun is avoided, is ideal.


Should remain moist moist but ensure good ventilation of the roots to avoid rotting. Is very sensitive to salts in the water, so do not use a water treated in a water softener or tap water.

Tap water can be decalcified with 1 ml of vinegar (8%) per liter of water. You can also use distilled water.




Usually grows along rivers. Sometimes the roots grow through the carpet of moss to hang in running water. The soil is slightly acidic, pH 6. Grow in a mixture of sphagnum so that sufficient water is retained but with bark for sufficient air circulation.


Give universal liquid fertilizer for houseplants, but diluted to 1/8 compared with the recommended dilution.


Repot every two years when the substrate is digested.



The plant has a long rhizome. When the plant is mature you may cut the rhizome in parts and pot them separately.