I got a small flask of Paphiopedilum bellatulum from Equatorial Plant Co in 2008 and deflasked them in August the same year. I have since traded all the seedling but one plant that I kept for myself and it is now blooming for the very first time, 3 years and 7 months later. I am like a proud momma! You really have to be patience when you raise orchid seedlings, but in this case it was more than worth the wait. The name is derived from the Latin word bellus (meaning beautiful), a fitting name I would say. I adore the voluptuous shape and vanilla ice cream coloring against the mottled leaf backdrop, marvelous.

Paphiopedilum bellatulum is a small terrestrial or lithophytic species from China to Indo-China where it grows at 900 to 1500 meters in shady locations on limestone cliffs. Flowers grow as large as 5-8 cm wide, mine measures about 6 cm, and blooms from a short, dark purple inflorescence that just clears the beautifully mottled green leaves with a deep purple underside. It is reputed to be a difficult species to grow, but perhaps this is because the growing recommendations for it found online can be rather contradictory. Some say to grow it warm to hot, other cool to intermediate. I say it does best in intermediate growing conditions in medium/low light and kept evenly moist all year, only slightly drier November through April. It supposedly prefers a slightly calcareous medium, but I grow mine just fine in a mix of medium bark and volcanic rocks without any added calcium.

Edit: As it turns out, this is probably a primary hybrid with P bellatulum in the mix, not a pure species… so I still need to get the pure species for my collection.  

Paphiopedilum bellatulum (Rchb.f.) Stein, Orchid.-Buch: 456 (1892).

Paphiopedilum bellatulum
Paphiopedilum bellatulumPaphiopedilum bellatulumPaphiopedilum bellatulum