Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How do you know your Stanhopea is happy?

 


Stanhopea shuttleworthii in bud
Other than the rather easy answer that your Stanhopea blooms consistently for you every year, there are other signs to observe that can help you understand how well your Stanhopea is growing.  A flowering Stanhopea is usually a content Stanhopea. I have noticed that they will not flower if they are severely stressed or not in the correct environment.  A Stanhopea that consistently produces several inflorescences every year is large enough and being provided the right care in order for it to put a great amount of effort and resources into flowering well.






Stanhopea insignis exhibiting older robust
pseudobulbs and new growth.

A plant that has several new and mature growths is doing well and will have the energy reserves to flower the following year.  A plant that has large pseudobulbs (this varies according to the species) is more likely to produce larger growths and more inflorescences.  Large and firm pseudobulbs are a sign that the plant is doing well.  Some species have folds or wrinkled surfaces such as S. insignis that may look like they are desiccated.  However, if you gently press the pseudobulb between your thumb and index finger and it is firm, then the plant is doing well.  However, if the pseudobulb is spongy or soft, then the plant may be getting either too much or too little water. 



Stanhopea tigrina var. nigroviolacea
producing several inflorescences

Once you have grown your Stanhopea for a few years, you may want to make a trophy plant out of it, re-basket it into a large basket and let it fill the entire container. This will provide you with a massive plant that will produce several if not dozens of inflorescences and bloom for several weeks. These trophy plants are very attractive and show stoppers. However, your orchid cannot remain in the same container forever, and it will eventually decline unless it is divided and re-basketed. Several growers have reported that a Stanhopea that was in decline and not blooming well was invigorated by dividing it and re-basketing the pieces.






















Stanhopea gibbosa new root growth
Another sign that a plant is doing well is that it is producing new roots with green growth at the tips, this signifies a growing and elongating root.  The roots should be produced around the base of new pseudobulbs and also throughout the basket. In fact, I usually consider a Stanhopea is doing very well when you can see root growth around the outside edge of the basket.  This signifies that the plant is growing well and producing enough root growth to encompass the entire basket.  This root growth takes advantage of all the water and nutrients in the growing medium every time you water.  Root growth is most evident in the spring and summer months. If roots are not actively growing at this time, you may want to check your plant and make sure that it is receiving the correct amount of water. 

A plant that is not getting enough water will have a growing medium that is dry and the basket will be very light.  Your plant should always be moist, but not sopping wet.  An over dry plant will have roots that will turn gray in color and the roots will begin to die and become desiccated.  If your plant is receiving too much water the roots may not be receiving enough air for gas exchange.  In this last case the media will be soggy and the roots will look very dark brown to black and may be rotting in the anaerobic environment.








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