Over the years, I’ve looked at lots of pictures of Stanhopeas to try to figure them out. It’s easy to see that the blossoms are large, showy, and unusual. It’s harder to make sense of their incredible shapes. They could be fantastic birds, weird bugs, or strange humanoids. So if these photos leave you somewhat mystified, you’re not alone.
These flowers don’t last long, only 2 or 3 days. They have a strong, sweet fragrance. Blooms descend from the bottom of the plant. That’s not a problem when growing as epiphytes, but in cultivation, Stanhopeas require a basket or mount. They need fairly bright light, heavy water, regular fertilizer, and winter dormancy. I haven’t been able to grow them myself (the first 6 photos are from the Conservatory of Flowers, 2 are from local orchid shows, and the last one is from Phipps Conservatory.) Most are large plants, and they’re best suited for growers with a greenhouse, or those who can keep them outdoors in tropical areas.
Different Stanhopea varieties below show more diversity in the family. They’re native to Central and South American rainforests, from Mexico south to Brazil. Most types want intermediate temps, but there are also warm and cool growers. If these flowers have left you a little befuddled, explore more Stanhopea photos online, and maybe you can figure them out.
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