Lady Slipper Rescue

Lady Slipper orchid on forest floor
Lady Slipper is a terrestrial orchid native to the New England region.

By KMHS Intern Sofia

This past week was a pretty exciting one for the gardens, Ms. Lisa, and me. I had never heard of a plant rescue; I simply knew we were going on a field trip.

We arrived at the property of a garden volunteer who was moving. She found a very special plant in her backyard. She thought the plant might be rare and wanted it to be saved. So, Ms. Lisa, Jared and I went on a trip to “save the plant.”

Two people transplanting a Lady Slipper orchid
It is important to transplant carefully. Include a generous amount of the soil the plant was originally growing in.

Saving a plant consists of digging it out with the roots, then replantingit to a field or garden where it will be preserved. Master Gardeners or other plant enthusiasts often do rescues. Many native and rare plants can be preserved through a rescue before clearing land for new homes or similar projects.

Our mission was to rescue a Lady Slipper orchid. The name comes fom the resemblance the plant has to delicate and feminine slippers in pink, white, or variegated colors. They are a hardy perennial from the New England region, but have very specific growing requirements.

When we were digging the orchids, we madesure to leave the roots intact and to keep as much of the healthy mycorrhiza, a fungus on the roots, as possible. The symbiotic relationship between mycorrhiza and Lady Slipper orchid roots helps keep the plant alive.

Two people in the woods preparing to transplant orchids.
A job well done.

I learned a lot about rescuing plants and Lady Slippers that day. I am excited to see if the plant will flourish in our garden (hopefully it will). Have you seen any Lady Slippers in your backyard?