Lepanthes sp., commonly referred to as Babyboot orchid, is a genus of short, flowering plants native to the forests of Central and South America. Grown in USDA Zones 9-11, they are small shrubs typically reaching no higher than 5 ft in height. Lepanthes thrive in light shade areas and semi-shade environments, making them a great choice for terrarium-keepers and anyone looking to spruce up the dappled shade areas of the garden. However, some species are epiphytes, meaning that they are adapted for growing on trees and need to be planted within bark mounted onto a board in order to simulate the natural setting.
Lepanthes sp. flourishes in moist conditions and require regular watering. In hot and dry areas, it is best to increase the watering frequency or use a humidity dome/shelter during germination and growing stages. Certain species may require a cold shock, dip the plugs in water for a couple of hours, before planting to trigger embryonic development.
These small shrubs display an array of amazing colors, boasting pink, white, off-white, yellow, orange and crimson to vinous red flowers. The foliage of the species sports attractively patterned foliage with a certain pop of both richness and hue. The unique foliage makes them an ideal choice for decoration and display purposes.
Lepanthes are relatively hardy plants, however, special care needs to be taken if grown in cold hardiness zones. The plants need to be kept warm and humid in the winter months, prune deciduous tips in order to protect them from winter frost. During colder months, they should be placed in sheltered areas of the garden, or indoors if necessary. Allow their soils to dry between watering, and water carefully, making sure that the plant is never overwatered, especially if kept in warm and slightly humid environments.