Saturday, September 5, 2015

Stanhopea impressa

This species is native to the western foothills of the Andes Mountains and is found in moist montane forests in Colombia and Ecuador.  The orchid grows at elevations between 1,640 to 6,000 feet (500 to 2,000 m).  The 4 inch (10.2 cm) wide flowers are cream colored to white and have a few sparse reddish spots along the petals and more on the sepals, hypochile and column. The center portion of the flower is infused with an intense yellow-gold color. The fragrance of the flowers is similar to basil and is slightly herb-like, but with an undertone of moth balls.

Stanhopea impressa inflorescence

This is the first to bloom of three clones that I have, so there may be more variation in the species than at first glance. Stanhopea impressa is a mid summer bloomer and tends to bloom after a related species S. embreei which has a fantastic fragrance.  Stanhopea impressa is easy to care for here in southern California and requires cool to intermediate temperatures to perform well.  The horticultural requirements are similar to other Stanhopea species such as S. tigrina, though the species tends to perform better with more shade and water.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Stanhopea gibbosa

This orchid is native to wet and humid forests of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama and grows best in intermediate temperature conditions .  It grows from 1,640 to 4,920 feet in elevation (500 to 1,500 m).  The 4.5 to 5 inch (11.4 to 12.7 cm) flowers are yellow to cream colored and have several reddish spots on the sepals, petals, and hypochile.  The flowers have a nice scent of Eucalyptus, menthol, and pine mixed together.  This species is often confused with Stanhopea costaricensis, but this species appears to have a more prominent and consistent form with two bulges at the back of the hypochile which is different than S. costaricensis

This Stanhopea appreciates shade and an abundance of humidity and water.  It tends to perform poorly without these cultural requirements and is shy to bloom.  I tend to water it every day during the summer, and even that seems to be insufficient.  I think it would prefer to be constantly moist and humid at all times.

Stanhopea gibbosa inflorescence

Stanhopea gibbosa single flower

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea

This form of Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea is a recently flowered plant that I received in a trade.  The original plant was grown in Germany and this doesn't seem to be a form that is common here in California.  It has flowers that are medium sized at approximately 5 inches across. The yellow color on the petals and sepals is rather intense and the reddish brown stripes are uneven on the upper dorsal sepal.  It will be interesting to see how consistent the flowers are from one year to the next.  Perhaps this plant has more variation in the flowers than I have seen up to this point, since this is the first flowering I have had of this form.

Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea

Friday, August 1, 2014

Stanhopea oculata 'Two Eyes'

This form of Stanhopea oculata is very similar to the standard form we see in many nurseries in southern California, that has buff to yellow colored flowers and many reddish brown spots on the petals and sepals.  However, this form has brighter yellow sepals and more spots on the sepals than the other form I have. This form also only has two eyes spots on the hypochile unlike the other form that has four.  This isn't that noticeable of a difference, just something interested I noted.  The fragrance of this form is still the same intense mint and chocolate that the species is noted for.

Stanhopea oculata 'Two Eyes' side view

Stanhopea oculata 'Two Eyes' hypochile detail

Stanhopea oculata with four eye spots hypochile detail

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea 'Glory of Mexico'

This form of Stanhopea tigrina has a soft yellow or buff background and less of the reddish brown markings on the petals and sepals than some other forms like 'Predator'. The yellow markings on the upper hypochile are also more intense in this form.  The flowers are as large as the other forms with a width of 6.1 inches (15.5 cm).  The fragrance is very similar to the others with a chocolate and vanilla scent, but this has a slight mothball fragrance as the flowers age.

For me this has been one of the most rapidly growing and rewarding of the S. tigrina var. nigroviolacea forms.  It has flowered from a 3.0 inch (8 cm) pot in two years with five inflorescences, and in that time the plant has doubled in size.  It always seems to be in growth and takes very few breaks throughout the year.  I will continue to monitor this variety and see how it performs against the eleven other forms of this species that I have growing in my yard.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stanhopea hernandezii

This species is native to Mexico in a narrow range on the southwest side of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt at lower elevations from 5575 to 7220 feet (1700 to 2200 m) in moist forests with a seasonal dry period.  The range includes the states of Guerrero, Mexico, Michoacan and Morelos.  This Stanhopea grows as a semi-terrestrial and lithophyte in shallow soil over rock or in decaying leaf litter.  Because of the decrease in winter rainfall and growth with little cover, this orchid tends to dry out a bit over the winter and this initiates flowering in late spring and summer.  However, reducing water in the winter without sufficient humidity will often lead to leaf drop, so never let this species completely dry out.  This leaf drop will often occur on younger pseudobulbs.  I grow this species outside on the north side of the house with full shade to dappled sunlight.  This species is a cool to intermediate grower for southern California.

Stanhopea hernandezii inflorescence

The flowers of this species are approximately 3.7 inches (9.4 cm) across with large reddish spots throughout the petals and sepals over a background color that can be a cream to buff or yellow.  The species is included in the Saccata section of Stanhopea that have inflated hypochiles that are sack-like.  The inflorescence holds typically 2 to 3 flowers and is rather short 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) long.  The leaves of this clone are also short 5 to 6 inches (12.7 to 15.2 cm) long, while other clones have leaves 8 to 9 inches (20.3-22.9 cm) long.  The pseudobulbs are 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) wide and are oval and smooth, lacking many of the ribs seen in other Stanhopea.

Stanhopea hernandezii flower

The fragrance of this orchid is a bit difficult to describe but is a mixture of vanilla, herbs, peppermint, and cinnamon. The fragrance varies throughout the day and even has a similarity to bubblegum at times, very different than S. tigrina which this species is sometimes confused with.

Stanhopea hernandezii close up showing the inflated hypochile

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spring 2014 Inflorescences

This past winter was warm and dry which made it difficult to keep the Stanhopea watered and fertilized.  This warmer weather continued through spring when temperatures were averaging a few degrees above normal for several weeks.  The warmer weather has prompted inflorescences to grow and mature a few weeks earlier than normal.  I expect blooms to open  in the next few days.

A Small division of Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea 'Glory of Mexico' that has waited the last two years to bloom and is producing five well spaced inflorescences!

Stanhopea hernandezii with three inflorescences.  This will be the first time I get to see this plant in bloom though I have owned it for three years.  The first year it bloomed I was on vacation and missed the flowers opening.  Last year the buds blasted. This year may be the year the flowers open when I am present.
Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea getting ready to open.  Unfortunately one inflorescence went unnoticed and was stuck between two wires, so only three will bloom this year.