|Cypripedium "Aki Light" blooming in my garden now|
'Aki Light' is a cross between C. macranthos and C. pubescens. Apparently, the flower color can vary somewhat from year to year and from plant to plant. 'Aki Light' is supposed to have large flowers for a cyp and this one certainly seems to be larger than some of my other cyp flowers. According to what I have read online, it is supposed to have twice as large flowers as another relatively commonly available hybrid called 'Gisela', which I also have in my garden.
Cypripediums are not cheap plants, and one of the reasons for this is that the nursery trade must grow baby cyps in flasks in laboratories--they are extremely difficult to grow from seed otherwise. I suppose this is true of many if not all orchids. While some orchids, such as Dactylorhizas, self sow in a garden, if one sets out to deliberately sow them, they are much more difficult. I suppose that given the right conditions even cyps would self sow, but that happy event has not yet occurred in my garden.
In any event, to grow cyps in large quantities, one must buy flasked seedlings from a lab, and then grow them on for several years before they are big enough to fend for themselves in a garden. This whole process is fraught with difficulties in keeping the plants alive, and hence, the high price of cyps.