Stanhopea, a native to South America, is one of the most fragrant orchids.

The genus of around 60 species, some lithophytes and some epiphytes. The pseudobulbs are relative small but the leaves are large. The inflorescence is pendulous, the flowers are few and sometimes very odd looking, but large. Unfortunately, the flowers don't last long.

In “captivity”, Stanhopeas will grow best in baskets with large holes all around. That is important because most flower spikes will come out from the bottom of the plant and the “holes” must have enough space for the spikes to get through or find a way out; however, flower spikes may also come from the base of a mature bulb.

Lining the basket is a challenge.

The requirements are: The lining cannot be waterproof, should not rot or decompose easily and must let the spikes get thought with minimum resistance. Some growers use the bark of the paper-bark tree, others use newspapers, I believe coconut fiber maybe a better product to use. Have a look around what others do in your area and gain some experience before you spend any money. Any good orchid compost that provides good drainage, and does not rot easily is suitable.

Stanhopea loves good air movement and therefore it is important to hang the basket in a good location. Some people say: “If you can grow Cymbidiums you can grow Stanhopeas too”. I cannot answer that.

From mid-spring, keep an eye on the bottom of the basket for the first signs of a flower spike. Unfortunately, the flowers are short lived and last only a day or two. Fortunately, a plant may produce more than just one inflorescence through the year.

Stanhopea needs bright light, humidity and moisture in summer and normal weak fertilizer. In winter, like all orchids, they don’t need much watering.

Stanhopea attracts red spiders and some fungal diseases. Full sun may burn the leaves.