Stanhopea inflorescences either grow down through the growing media, or along the top of the media and open as a pendent inflorescence. Therefore, it is highly recommended to grow Stanhopea in a basket. There are some individuals who have been successful in blooming Stanhopea grown in plastic pots with holes in the bottom. However, as the plant grows larger, and the inflorescences increase in size, it becomes more difficult for the inflorescences to make their way out of the pot and the inflorescences often die. Some fortunate individuals have been able to successfully grow and bloom Stanhopea mounted on wood, cork, or wood rafts when the growing conditions provided are moist and humid at all times. However, here in southern California where our summers are rainless and humidity is low, baskets seem to work best for growing Stanhopea. For seedlings and small plants, I grow these in 2-4 inch (5-10 cm) plastic pots before they can be transferred to a 6 inch (15 cm) basket.
You may be asking what kind of basket is best for growing Stanhopea? A basket that is durable and strong is a good start, and most Stanhopea grow best in baskets that are either 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) in diameter. Larger baskets can be used if you want to create a specimen plant. The baskets should be approximately 5-6 inches (13-15 cm) deep to allow the inflorescences a chance to grow completely through the growing media. In some species (e.g., S. trigrina and S. wardii) the inflorescences grow longer and these can accommodate deeper baskets up to 8-10 inches(20-25 cm) in depth. There are a variety of baskets on the market that are sufficient for growing Stanhopea. These include polyethylene plastic, wire or metal, and wood slat baskets. I have also seen Stanhopea grown in ceramic baskets, netted bags, and in almost any container that has holes large enough to allow the inflorescences to mature and grow out of the basket. I will discuss each of the three main types of baskets mentioned above and their advantages and disadvantages.
Plastic baskets are relatively inexpensive, durable, lightweight, and can be stored and transported easily. As my Stanhopea collection has grown, I have chosen this type of basket over the others because of the cost, however these are not the most ornamental of the baskets. These baskets can be obtained in sizes that range from 4-12 inches (10-30 cm) in diameter. I usually choose the 6 inch (15 cm) size as the minimum due to my dry environment, because this size basket dries out much less frequently than smaller baskets. Most of my smaller Stanhopea are placed in plastic baskets until they can be transferred to a larger wire baskets later. The holes in the plastic baskets are approximately ½ -1 inch (1.3-2.5 cm) in diameter and are sufficient in size to allow the inflorescences to pass through. One issue with plastic baskets is that as the Stanhopea grow larger, they will often send new pseudobulb shoots through the holes in the basket. Once this growth elongates through the holes and matures, one must cut the plant out of the container when it is time to re-basket. This situation can often lead to a frustrating time when re-basketing and an increased chance of damaging the plant.
|Plastic baskets in the 8-10 inch (20-25 cm) sizes (left). Stanhopea oculata growing in an 8 inch (20 cm) basket (center). An example of a Stanhopea gibbosa pseudobulb that has grown through the side of the basket (right).|
|Stanhope oculata in a 12 inch (30 cm) basket that I have grown for over 12 years (left). Newly divided Stanhopea florida in a 12 inch (30 cm) flat basket growing on lattice (right)|