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|